The Nissan Lafesta was a 5-door minivan and multi-purpose vehicle produced from 2004 to 2017.
Nissan Lafesta Introduction and Design
The first unveiling of the Nissan Lafesta happened in September 2004 and the release followed shortly after in December. The name is reported to stem from the Italian word festa, meaning festival or party, and was aimed at marketing itself as a vehicle to enjoy with family and friends. As the successor to the Nissan Prairie, also known as the Liberty, the Lafesta was built to be a multi-purpose vehicle. It competed with other vehicles in the segment such as the Subaru Exiga, Toyota Isis, and Honda Stream. The Lafesta was built at the Kanda, Fukuoka, Japan factory which used to produce the larger Nissan Presage minivan. By offering the mini-van-like ability to haul people while also being able to serve as a spacious cargo van, the Nissan Lafesta is a practical vehicle. When you add in the fuel-efficient engine, the result is a sensible option for both personal and commercial use. Another useful characteristic of the Lafesta is the dual sliding doors. When opened, people or cargo could be easily accessible from either side. To make it even easier, one of the sliding doors was power-assisted, incredibly useful for those times with full hands.
Engine and Available Features
The only engine choice available on the first-generation Lafesta was a 2.0L MR20DE inline-4 engine, producing around 145 horsepower. It was paired was a continuously variable transmission for smooth acceleration and ease of use. Keeping in line with the utilitarian approach, the Lafesta was available in both front-wheel and four-wheel drive variants, allowing those who deal with click roads due to snow, ice, or other slippery surfaces to be confident this peppy little MPV could be up to the task. While practical in many ways, the Lafesta still offered several included features and available options. A GPS navigation system, oversized sunroof, and reverse camera were available. It also used Nissan’s Intelligent key system as found in many other Nissan models from the era. The front-wheel drive versions utilize a torsion beam suspension design, while the four-wheel drive versions had a trailing arm multi-link setup.
Second Generation Update
In mid-2011, the second-generation Lafesta was released. Production moved to the Mazda Hiroshima, Japan plant, allowing the first-generation to continue production until late 2012. The first generation was rebranded as the Lafesta Joy during this overlap period. This second-generation Lafesta was a rebadged Mazda Premacy built on the Mazda CW platform but sold under the Nissan brand. The wheelbase was slightly shorter than the original Lafesta, down from 110 inches (2,800 mm) to 108 inches (2,750 mm), but the overall length grew slightly from 180.1 inches to 181.7 inches.
Engine and Transmission
The engine options changed dramatically, as it used Mazda 2.0L inline-4 options. Four different engine types were used throughout the production span, all 2.0L inline-4 ranging from the MZR LF-VD to the SKYACTIV-G PE VPS. Both front-wheel and all-wheel drive options were available, and the all-wheel drive model came exclusively with the LF-VE inline-4 engine and a 4-speed automatic transmission. Other two-wheel drive models had an available 5 or 6-speed automatic transmission. Eventually, the Mazda Premacy was discontinued, leading to the demise of the Nissan Lafesta as well. While both automakers still produced capable minivans and multi-purpose vehicles, the time had come for a renewed design.