The Nissan Bassara was a 5-door minivan and multipurpose vehicle produced from 1999 to 2003.
Nissan Bassara Background and Naming
The Bassara was created as a Japan-only option for those who wanted a large multipurpose vehicle that could hold many passengers and a lot of cargo. It was designed and constructed to compete with other minivans from the era, including the Toyota Gaia, released just before the Bassara in 1998, and the Honda Odyssey, which began production five years before the Bassara in 1994. The name for this Nissan minivan comes from the word “Vajara,” part of the South Asian language Sanskrit. Vajara is directly translated as “the prize or object of desire that encourages someone to yield temptation,” showing that it is meant to be a practical car that performs well, focused on utility rather than pleasure. Japan had gone through an economic crisis in the 1990s. After many years of inflated real estate and stock market prices, the bubble burst in early 1992. For the car manufacturing world, this had lasting implications, specifically related to keeping size and cost to a minimum and withhold unnecessary and often excessive consumption.
Development and Sales Strategy
The Honda Odyssey was the front runner in the Japanese minivan world shortly after the economic crisis, bringing a new van design to the table that used a smaller frame and body yet still offered plenty of space for either cargo or people. Although the smaller minivan struggled in other markets, it was a hit in Japan, leading other car manufacturers to follow suit. That is why Nissan stepped in with the Bassara in 1999, using a similar makeup as the Odyssey and doing everything possible to keep cost and final price to a minimum. One way that Nissan was able to do so was by using the same platform which had been used on three other Nissan models. These included the Gloria luxury sedan, the R’nessa station wagon, and the similar Presage minivan. The main difference between Nissan’s two minivans at the time, the Bassara and Presage, was only the location they were sold at. The Bassara was only sold at Nissan Prince Store locations in Japan, while the Presage was sold at Nissan Bluebird Store dealerships.
Engine and Performance
The Nissan Bassara was a front-engine vehicle that could hold 7 or 8 people. It was available in both front-wheel drive and four-wheel drive configurations. The power plant under the hood included three gasoline options and one diesel. The two smaller gasoline engines were a 2.4L KA24DE and a 2.5L QR25DE engine with around 170 horsepower, both inline-4 designs. A larger gasoline engine was also available. It was a 3.0L VQ30DE V6 engine that produced around 190 to 224 horsepower. The final option was a 2.5L turbocharged diesel YD25DDTi inline-4 engine, producing around 207 lb ft of torque. All engines were paired to a 4-speed automatic transmission.
Trim Levels and Available Features
It was available in many different trim levels including J, V, X, and Axis, with different variations on most of these designations. The Axis was the performance image model with a body kit and sleek exterior styling, while the J served as the base model. The X had various leather and other luxury appointments. Safety features on the Nissan Bassara include an electronic braking power distribution system and anti-lock brakes as standard equipment. A large front bumper defined the style of the front end, while the rounded corners helped the somewhat boxy shape achieve slightly better aerodynamic qualities. In the early 2000s, Nissan consolidated their dealership network. Instead of the past five different types of dealerships, they would only use two sales chains going forward. As a result, the Bassara hit the chopping block so that the Presage could continue sales without a nearly identical competitor in the same store.