New Pathfinder: Polished performer
TAKING ON THE TRAILBLAZER: Nissan’s new Pathfinder range sets its sights on the SA 4x4 market. Does it match up to Chev’s new Trailblazer?
Author: DAVE FALL
Two new Nissan Pathfinder SE models feature in the new four-vehicle line-up for these accomplished and rather good-looking and highly capable 4x4s from the Japanese.
According to Nissan SA, the entry level Pathfinder SE is priced really keenly within its segment (starting at R450 900) and quite obviously aimed at competitors such as Toyota’s Fortuner/FJ Cruiser and Chevrolet’s Trailblazer.
The good news for those in the market for a Pathfinder-type of vehicle is that I can honestly report that this is no stripped-down parts-bin special – in fact potential buyers may well be intrigued by how Nissan managed the task of offering the well-specced SE Pathfinder.
WHY CHANGE IT?
The answer could well be that the Pathfinder to some may appear a little dated - it was launched back in 2005. I ask: Why change something if it’s still very capable and decidedly modern?
Over the past couple of days I’ve had the pleasure of driving this extremely competent newcomer over just about every terrain you could imagine – badly rutted gravel roads; a rocky 4x4 track – and even mixing it on the N1 north of Pretoria as far as Naboomspruit with vehicles of every type and description.
In a nutshell, the rugged and premium-looking Pathfinder SE's looks meet outstanding on-road comfort, thanks to all-round independent suspension (multi-link at the rear). This offers better ride quality and handling due to lower unsprung weight and the ability for each wheel to independently address the road surface undisturbed by the other three.
It also provides a lower centre of gravity and less vibration from impact shocks and prestigious off-road driving ability in a tailor-made package developed especially for the South African market.
The engine turns either a six-speed manual or five-speed auto with all-mode 4x4. The mode provides intelligent traction, a drive mode selector switch and Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS). The new Pathfinder SE models offer an ideal blend of on-road comfort and safety as well as off-road aptitude and control, powered by Nissan’s proven 2.5-litre, common-rail, turbocharged, four-cylinder diesel, which produces 140kW at 4000 rpm and 450Nm from 2000 rpm.
Ground clearance of 232mm might prove a bit of a downer for hard-core off-road enthusiasts but pick your route carefully through the rocky stuff and it will be perfectly adequate to compete with your mates. There’s very little chance of actually getting stuck with a Pathfinder because the above-mentioned drive mode selector takes care of that.
Both my driving partner and I were content to leave said switch in "auto" for the duration without resorting to four-high/four-low selections.
The SE's cabin has creature comforts such as privacy glass (dark windows) in the rear, power windows and external mirrors, power steering, central locking, cruise control, a multi-function steering wheel, a comprehensive trip computer, Bluetooth for hands-free cellphone use, automatic dual-zone climate control and 17" alloy rims, amongst others.
Safety equipment is, as expected from Nissan, top-notch – where six air bags are joined by anti-lock brakes with varying pressure distribution, dynamic traction control, hill-start help, gradient descent braking (auto only) and the aforementioned ABLS (both models).
In case you were wondering what ABLS is exactly, it’s a system that cleverly redirects power to the driven wheels which have the most traction, using wheel-speed sensors to detect a loss of traction in one or more of the driven wheels, applying braking force to the affected wheel or wheels to help slow them down.
Something one definitely needs when traversing in off-road conditions!
Nissan Pathfinder 2.5dCi 4 x 4 Man. SE - R450 900
Nissan Pathfinder 2.5dCi 4 x 4 A/T SE - R470 900
Nissan Pathfinder 2.5dCi 4 x 4 A/T Nav LE - R594 900
Nissan Pathfinder 3.0dCi 4 x 4 A/T Nav - R694 900
(Prices include VAT but are subject to a CO2 tax increase from April 2013.)
Sold with a three-year or 90 000km service plan and a three-year or 100 000km warranty.