2012 Nissan Lafesta Highway Star – Click above for high-res image gallery

When is a Mazda5 not a Mazda5? When it's a Nissan. Only it's still a Mazda5 even when it's wearing a different badge.

The two Japanese automakers have entered into an arrangement whereby the latter supplies the former with lightly facelifted versions of its latest minivan, and presto! We've got the new Nissan Lafesta. Actually, it's full name is the Lafesta Highway Star, and is not to be confused with the Lafesta Joy, a separate model that will continue production at Nissan's own Kyushu plant.

The Lafesta Highway Star, then, is produced by Mazda for Nissan, and receives some slightly different styling touches to set it apart. Okay, it pretty much comes down to a new three-bar grille. Otherwise it's essentially the same as the Mazda5. And like the Mazda5, the Lafesta Highway Star offers flexible three-row seating, dual sliding doors and stop-start ignition.

One notable departure, however, is the availability of all-wheel drive on the Nissan, which Mazda offered for a time in the Japanese Domestic Market but has since discontinued. Of course, the Nissan is being offered only for Japanese domestic market consumption, so if you live anywhere else, don't go pestering your local Nissan dealer for an AWD Mazda5, because the closest you're gonna get is the high-resolution images in our gallery and the JDM launch video with press release after the jump.

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Nissan Releases All-New Lafesta Highway STAR Minivan

YOKOHAMA (June 15, 2011) - Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. has announced the launch of the all-new Nissan Lafesta Highway STAR minivan, which goes on sale today at Nissan dealers throughout Japan.

The redesigned Lafesta Highway STAR is a new minivan featuring stylish design, high functionality and strong environmental performance.

Its exterior features a horizontal chrome grille on the front and striking aerodynamic design - expressing sportiness and a bold presence - characteristic of the Nissan Highway STAR series. Enhanced features and equipment include the adoption of dual power sliding rear doors for easy entry/exit and easily operable, versatile seat configurations. The Lafesta Highway STAR is also equipped with Idling Stop, which helps it to realize best-in-class*1 fuel economy of 16.0km/L under Japan's 10-15 mode *2 testing cycle for emission certification and fuel economy performance.

Every new Lafesta Highway STAR grade achieves super-low emissions vehicle (SU-LEV) certification by emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards. Since the two-wheel drive (2WD) grades achieve improved fuel efficiency by adopting a direct injection engine, many of them qualify for the tax exemption for environmentally friendly vehicles*3, with automobile acquisition and weight taxes reduced by either 75 percent, or 50 percent, depending on the grade and options.

In 2010, Nissan introduced its two-pillar strategy to reduce CO2 emissions: "zero emissions" and "PURE DRIVE." PURE DRIVE vehicles are designed to achieve best-in-class fuel economy for mass-production models by equipping them with optimal next-generation eco-technologies such as Idling Stop, clean diesel and hybrid systems. In Japan, the new Lafesta Highway STAR*4 is the sixth in the series of PURE DRIVE vehicles with the idling stop system to be introduced. The new Lafesta Highway Star will only be offered for sale in the Japanese domestic market.

Key features of the new Lafesta Highway STAR include:
1. Stylish Highway STAR design
2. Excellent functionality that responds to various customer needs
3. High levels of driving and environmental performance

Nissan Lafesta Highway STAR Overview
1. Design

The sporty Highway STAR design projects a strong presence with its signature horizontal chrome grille, which is widely adopted in Highway STAR models. Additionally, a front aero bumper, side sill protector and rear bumper color that matches the body, all help to emphasize the vehicle's wide stance and low center of gravity. The side panels combine strong character lines and surfaces flowing from the nose to the side, while the rear license finisher is mounted on a chrome horizontal bar embossed with the vehicle name. The new Lafesta Highway STAR is available in five exterior colors, including Sparkling Black (P) that highlights its sportiness.

Extensive use of black in the refined interior design provides a sense of elegance and sportiness.
With the edge of the meter hood as the starting point, the instrument panel is designed to embrace the driver, for a cockpit-like feel. Use of chrome-plated and silver-colored finishers accentuate the sportiness of the interior. The available black jacquard seat cloth with brown piping and stitching adds to the interior's quality feel (Highway STAR G).

2. Packaging, Seating and Sliding Doors
The Lafesta Highway STAR's refined interior features theater-like seating, where each row of seats is slightly elevated so that each passenger's hip point gets gradually higher from the front seat to the third-row seat. This helps to improve visibility for all occupants. Although it provides the ample interior space of a three-series grade vehicle (according to the Japanese taxation classification system) its small minimum turning radius of 5.3 meters is equal to that of a five-series grade car.

Flexible seating has been adopted, with captain seats that can quickly be turned into a bench seat by placing a seating surface (retracted into the underseat tray of the second-row passenger side seat when not in use) in between the second-row seats. Versatile seating configurations are available, depending on the number of passengers and the amount of luggage, with the use of flexible seating features and the third-row, 50/50 split seat. The third row seats can also be reclined. A special seat cloth with a cleanable feature - both fluids and oily stains can easily be removed - is adopted for the Highway STAR G.

Dual Power Sliding Doors
Spacious dual power sliding doors, with an opening width of 686 millimeters, offers more convenience when getting in and out of the Highway STAR in small parking spaces or for those accompanied by small children or infants. The power sliding doors can be easily operated with the Intelligent Key, or the switch on the instrument panel (standard on Highway STAR G, factory-installed option for other grades). A touch sensitive, auto-retract function has been adopted for the power sliding doors to help prevent anything from getting caught in the door.

3. Driving and Environmental Performance
An advanced 2.0-liter direct injection engine is offered with 2WD grades, combining strong driving performance with high fuel efficiency while delivering high torque. Fuel economy is rated as best-in-class. For 4WD grades a 2.0L engine is adopted, which provides agile and smooth driving.
An electronic five-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode is adopted for 2WD grades, while four-wheel drive (4WD) grades feature an electronic four-speed automatic transmission.

The Lafesta Highway STAR utilizes a four-wheel independent multilink rear suspension, providing sporty drivability and secure straight-line stability at higher speeds. High body rigidity also assists with stability and comfort for passengers.

Idling Stop System
Standard on Highway STAR G (2WD) and Highway STAR (2WD) grades is the idling stop system. The idling stop system automatically stops the engine when the car is stationary, such as when waiting at a traffic light, for improved fuel efficiency. When the car is not moving when driving on a gentle slope while the idling stop system is in operation, the Idling Stop Start Assist function prevents the car from moving backward, even if the driver takes his or her foot off the brake.
While Idling Stop is engaged, the air conditioner works only as a ventilator. If it detects an increase in cabin temperature, the engine restarts and the air conditioner comes on again to ensure a comfortable cabin space.

Other Key Safety and Environmental Technologies
Automatic headlight system (Standard on Highway STAR G, factory-installed option on other grades)
Halogen headlights (projector type with low beam/manual-control)
Xenon headlights (projector type with low beam/auto-control) (Factory-installed option)
Halogen foglight-equipped front bumper (Standard on Highway STAR G)
LED High-Mount Stop Lamp
VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control) with Traction Control system (TCS) functionality included (Standard on Highway STAR 2WD and Highway STAR G 2WD)
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System), EBD (Electronic Brake force Distribution), Brake Assist
Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) curtain airbags, driver and passenger seat SRS side airbag system (Factory-installed option on Highway STAR and Highway STAR G)
SRS airbag system for driver and front passenger seats
Body construction for pedestrian protection
Every grade achieves SU-LEV certification, emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards
ECO Indicator installed on the instrument panel, which feeds the driver information for improved fuel-efficient driving, judged by how much the accelerator is pressed and the vehicle speed

The new Lafesta Highway STAR is supplied to Nissan by Mazda Motor Corporation on an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) basis. Lafesta JOY X, which has been popular for its complete range of equipment and affordable pricing, will continue to be available and produced at Nissan's Kyushu Plant. With the Lafesta Highway STAR and Lafesta JOY, Nissan strives to provide attractive minivans to meet a wide range of our customers' needs.

Sales Target 1,200 units/month
Price Range 1,991,850 yen to 2,483,250 yen, including consumption tax
Sales launch events Sat., June 18 - Sun., June 19 and Sat., June 25 - Sun., June 26, 2011

*1: 2.0L gasoline engine class minivan for seven passengers (As of Mar. 2011, Nissan internal figures)
*2: Fuel economy of Highway STAR (2WD)
*3: By achieving both SU-LEV certification by emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards and 25% improvement in fuel economy over 2010 standards, the automobile acquisition tax for new vehicles that are registered by March 31, 2012, will receive a 75% reduction. Automobile weight tax for new vehicles registered by April 30, 2012, will receive a 75% reduction.
By achieving both SU-LEV certification by emitting 75% fewer exhaust emissions than 2005 standards and 20% or 15% improvement in fuel economy over 2010 standards, the automobile acquisition tax for new vehicles that are registered by March 31, 2012, will receive a 50% reduction. The automobile weight tax for new vehicles that are registered by April 30, 2012, will receive a 50% reduction.
*4: Highway STAR G (2WD) and Highway STAR (2WD)

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      Mazda Premacy (5), current generation, is still available with a 4WD system mated with a 4-speed auto in two trims starting at 2,109,000 yens. Source: Mazda's built-to order site: www.w-tune.com
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll take mine painted deep purple. "Ain't nobody gonna take my car..." Seriously? Nobody else picked up on the seriously ridiculous trim-level name? Anybody? I'm old. :(
      • 3 Years Ago
      Looks way better than that pathetic Mazda smiley front end
      • 3 Years Ago
        • 3 Years Ago
        You make it sound like the Chevy Forester and the Saab 9-2x made Subie GM's bitch...
        Frankie Rose
        • 3 Years Ago
        Suzuki and Kawasaki build each others dirt and cruiser bikes, and Suzi builds Chevys. Toyota and Subaru have a entry level sports car and own parts of each other, and many Corollas were build by GM workers. Lotus and McLaren don't make it's own engines, and Yamaha tunes everybody elses. VW owns Italian and British Super-Marks. The Mustang front suspension comes from the C1 platform, the Mazda. Truth is nobody stands alone in the global market anymore. And if there is to be life after Ford, Mazda needs to sell vehicles and make profits. Ignorance can be a bitch, too.
          Frankie Rose
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Frankie Rose
          on the C1 platform, I meant to say "the Mazda3/Focus"
      Drew Fields
      • 3 Years Ago
      That front end looks a hell of a lot better than Mazda's current grin.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it funny... Nissan's best looking vehicle is a Mazda. Mazda's best looking vehicle is being sold as a Nissan. Nissan... rogue and quest and Moron-o are hideous. Mazda... loose that silly grin.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Okay, it pretty much comes down to a new three-bar grille. Otherwise it's essentially the same as the Mazda5." Aren't the door stampings unique? They don't have the ridiculous Nagare lines like the Mazda.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It looks good with the Ford grill and the Nissan logo. I want to like Mazda but that corporate smile motif loses me.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I find it interesting that a car company as large as Nissan would need to rebadge a Mazda. One would think that between Nissan and Renault they would have some platform that they could use to build their own mini-minivan.
      • 3 Years Ago
      That's more like it! They got rid of the swoopy lines on the doors and this makes it look much nicer. Now they need to get rid of the horizontal taillights and go back to vertical ones and they got it made.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Its a normal thing in Japan. Mazda has several Suzuki keicars as Mazda's and they use the Nissan AD/AD Expert as Mazda Familia Van. The Nissan looks way much better without the smilieface and the Nagare lines on the side
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'll buy it simply for the name. Nissan "The Party" Joy Highwaystar!
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