Take one look at the new Nissan Primastar and it becomes clear that the Japanese got their inspiration from the French. Whatever side you look at it from, the new Primastar looks just like the Renault Trafic.
The Primastar is Nissan South Africa's latest addition to its already strong commercial vehicle range.
Roel de Vries, Nissan's director of marketing and sales, said: "We are expanding our range of commercial vehicles and with Primastar we are entering a new market segment and offering our commercial vehicle customers more options.
"The expansion of our commercial vehicle range coincides with positive macro- economic trends and business confidence, which have created a stable environment for sustainable growth in the South African automotive industry."
Vinod Thomas, product manager for the Nissan commercial vehicle range, said: "The successful bid for the 2010 Soccer World Cup and the Gautrain project in Gauteng have created further opportunities for growth in the building, tourism and service industries."
Which is where the Primastar comes into its own: boasting a 1,9litre diesel engine, it was designed to move people and luggage economically and reliably in the kind of comfort associated with a passenger car.
It offers spacious accommodation for up to nine people on its three bench seats, each of which is fitted with a head rest.
The chassis is reinforced to cope with South Africa's extreme conditions and road surfaces.
The vehicle has been designed to suit a variety of passenger and luggage configurations.
It offers up to 1,2m³ of luggage space when configured for a full complement of nine occupants.
With four or five occupants, it offers up to 2,5m³ of space.
A large glass area provides for excellent visibility.
Driver ergonomics were also taken into consideration. Standard are an adjustable steering wheel with power assistance, a height-adjustable driver's seat and independent front suspension, which gives car-like handling and comfort.
Air-conditioning in front and rear, power-operated windows in the front, dual exterior rearview mirrors, a radio-CD player with front-end loading, and dual sliding doors and sliding windows all combine to offer the kind of comfort and convenience not usually found in a commercial vehicle.
Outside there are front fog lamps, wide external side protection mouldings, heated rear window and three- speed windscreen wipers with intermittent function.
The Primastar is powered by a 1870cm³ four- cylinder eight-valve diesel engine with direct common-rail injection that meets the requirements of Euro 4 Compliance, a European directive intended to limit the emission of polluting gases from diesel engines.
The diesel engine delivers 74kW of power at 3500rpm and 240Nm of torque at 2000rpm. The power is delivered to the wheels through a six-speed manual gearbox.
Safety features include ABS braking, electronic brake distribution, dual airbags in the front, an engine transponder immobiliser, three-point seat belts for all occupants, remote central locking and remote dead locking.
Owner peace of mind is provided by a three-year or 100000km warranty, a three-year corrosion warranty with unlimited kilometres, and 10000km service intervals with the countrywide backing of Nissan's 126 dealers.
Thomas said: "Primastar will fill an gap in the market for a versatile people and luggage carrier that offers car-like comfort and convenience, driver enjoyment with an overall performance and low cost of ownership that will meet business objectives."