Nissan has given three of its key models a facelift...we put them to the test
Three keys to vehicle sales in today's still sensitive market are fresh product to get folk walking through the door; models in popular brackets; and a line-up that offers choice - without costly complexity.
Nissan might be short a large car but it holds some keys, with last year's five-vehicle launch blitz followed by a facelift for Pathfinder, now represented by just one model variant; a facelift for Navara; a grunty diesel update for both; and changes to the popular Qashqai, which replaces a medium hatch in Nissan's portfolio.
Our launch involved a two-day drive odyssey, with Qashqai put through its paces round Canterbury's Banks Peninsula before the long run to the upper Rakaia, where we ditched the front-drive cars for the bush-bashers and headed off seal.
Qashqai's attractive new look delivers a more rounded face and extra features, like Bluetooth; with a panoramic glass roof, dual zone air, 18-inch alloys, and keyless start for the top-spec Ti.
There's one reasonably efficient 2.0-litre engine matched to a CVT auto, in two wheel drive only and two spec levels, with a seven-seat variant due in August. All get six airbags, ABS and stability control, plus cruise control.
Qashqai delivers a good all-round view families will appreciate. It's a comfy cruiser, though the CVT sounds slightly coarse under hard acceleration and there's some SUV-style body roll, a trade-off for the benefits of a higher-riding stance. Qashqai opens the bidding at $35,900.
Navara also has a new face, which adds length and improves aerodynamics, to cut cabin noise and fuel use.
The interior finish is more car-like, as is the spec for the ST-X we drove, with Bluetooth, six airbags, stability control, ABS brakes, dual zone climate air and more - embarrassing some passenger cars. You can lift the rear seat bases for extra in-cabin luggage space, too.
The 2wd diesel gets a power boost to 120kW/403Nm and better economy, but it's the range-topper that's the big news, with the $59,950 ST-X 4wd motor's common rail 2.5-litre diesel now serving 140kW and 450Nm.
And you do notice that extra grunt, particularly on road. Meanwhile Navara's ride is still very much work truck - though you could live with it every day, provided you need the tray enough to make the compromise.
The $76,800 Pathfinder gets Navara's 2.5-litre diesel, plus the facelift and Xenon lights, keyless start, an iPod port and Bluetooth. There's just one spec, with seven seats standard.
Its extra weight means Pathfinder doesn't respond as eagerly to the throttle as the ute - but ride is more comfy as befits its more family-car focus.
Both SUV and ute switch from two to four-wheel-drive at the twist of an in-cabin dial; low range is equally easy to access though you do have to stop.
Neither proved as frugal as their 8.5 and 9.0l/100km claim, not surprising given the off-road component of our drive; mind you they weren't overly thirsty either.
Speaking of thirsty - Nissan hopes to add the 3.2-litre V6 diesel sold in Europe to Navara and Pathfinder next year.
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