Nissan Pathfinder

Test venue: North Yorkshire

August 2005

Nissan has been at the forefront of four-wheel drive car development for many years and the Terrano, initially launched as an equivalent to Ford's Maverick, was a successful all-terrain model for the Japanese manufacturer. But the company is understandably excited about the all-new, Spanish-built Pathfinder which goes on sale in September 2005.

Nissan has found a niche in the market for 4x4 cars and now offers six brands in the European market. Management in the UK are convinced that the Pathfinder will offer realistic competition to the Land Rover Discovery, Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Landcruiser, much as the Nissan X-Trail has done with the Freelander and its competitors.

The company chose the delightful location of Hackness Grange, near Langdale forest in North Yorkshire, for the on and off-road launch of the new model, with a powerful new four-litre V6 taking pride of place at the top of the range of eight trim levels.

Nissan's PR Manager Wayne Bruce claims that the seven-seater V6 is the most powerful model of its kind on sale in the UK, but if you don't fancy frightening fuel consumption as low as 15 mpg on the urban cycle for the throaty 269 bhp engine, then you could always opt for the torquey and effective 174 bhp, turbodiesel engine.

The full-specification Pathfinder T-Spec V6, with optional metallic paint and a host of luxury accessories, carries a price tag of 34,360. For your money you would be the proud owner of a deliciously-sounding 4x4 performance vehicle with a top speed of 118 mph that would reach the speed limit in under nine seconds. The range-topper would be equipped with leather upholstery, satellite navigation, traction control, alloys and all the usual extras you would associate with a modern luxury car of its type.

If you opted for the capable diesel unit with a six-speed manual transmission, on-the-road prices start at 24,500, rising to 32,460 for the T-Spec automatic. The V6 falls into insurance group 16E, with the diesel option fitting into groups 13E and 14E.

The Pathfinder is available with a new six-speed gearbox, an All-Mode 4x4 system with low ratio and either five or seven seats. Dual zone climate control and a full set of air bags are available on all models. Pathfinder was modelled on the Dunehawk show car and there is no questioning its rugged styling and striking features.

The new Pathfinder, particularly in V6 guise, is a comfortable and purposeful family car, which packs a powerful punch. Press the throttle and rev the V6 up to around 5,000 rpm and it will push you back into your seat in an impressive fashion as you are catapulted forwards with the growl of that V6 throbbing menacingly under the bonnet. The engine is based on the unit from the Murano and 350Z sports car and is perfectly suited to overtaking and spirited cross-country drives.

An excellent seating position, responsive brakes and firm suspension ensure that the car performs admirably on narrow country lanes and the power of the V6 enables you to make swift progress on A roads where conditions permit. In an off-road environment the car is equally at home. In atrocious muddy conditions in Langdale forest the Pathfinder performed faultlessly and was equally at home mud-plugging through deep pot holes, as it was on steep and treacherous muddy descents.

If you can overcome the exhorbitant fuel bill for the V6, then the new range-topping Pathfinder is a serious on and off-road rival for the Mitsubishi and the Land Rover. The diesel version is obviously more economical, but you lose that driving appeal of the V6. The latter goes on sale this month and is sure to chip away at sales of the Discovery and the Shogun in the coming months.


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