Similar but not quite identical to the Mazda5

Similar but not quite identical to the Mazda5

The second generation of a compact Nissan minivan has been launched in Japan. The new Nissan Lafesta Highway Star is a restyled Mazda Premacy (Mazda5 in overseas markets).

In an unusual step for a vehicle sold mostly in Japan, Nissan is choosing to keep the first generation model in production, changing its name from Lafesta to Lafesta Joy. It is built by Nissan at the company's Kyushu plant, having entered production there in 2005. The Lafesta Joy sits on the Renault-Nissan Alliance's P3 architecture.

The new Lafesta Highway Star is fitted with Mazda's 2.0-litre I4 petrol engine as standard, along with a five-speed automatic gearbox. As is almost always the case for domestic make vehicles sold in Japan, all-wheel drive variants are available as these are popular in the country's snowbelt.

Nissan says it hopes to sell 1,200 units a month of the Lafesta Highway Star. As well as the Premacy, the new model's main rivals are the Toyota Wish and Honda Stream.

Mazda builds the Nissan Lafesta Highway Star alongside the Premacy at its Ujina No.2 plant in Hiroshima.

Author: Glenn Brooks