The Nissan Mistral was a compact SUV produced from 1994 to 1999.
Nissan Mistral Background and Markets Offered
In 1993, Nissan launched a new compact SUV to meet the demands of a growing segment. The global company used its Barcelona, Spain facility under the Nissan Motor Iberica SA subsidiary to assemble the Mistral. The name Mistral comes from a specific local wind found in southeastern France. In a reversal from many other Nissan vehicles which were made in Japan and exported elsewhere, the Nissan Mistral was built in Spain and then exported to Nissan's home country of Japan. Sticking to Nissan's usual model name differences, the Mistral was sold as the Terrano II model name name in markets outside of Japan. On top of these two names, the same vehicle was also supplied to Ford under an OEM agreement. It was sold as the Ford Maverick in many European countries including the United Kingdom. While the Terrano II was sold up until 2006, the Mistral was only available in Japan from 1994 to 1999.
Engine and Design
The initial engines available in the Nissan Mistral included the 2.4L KA24S inline-4 gasoline engine producing around 99 horsepower, and a 2.7L turbodiesel option. In 1996, it was upgraded to a fuel-injected version of the 2.4L gasoline engine known as the KA24E. The diesel option was replaced with intercooled versions, including a smaller 2.4L and the same displacement 2.7L TDi diesel options. The exterior design of the Nissan Mistral featured many rigid lines with a boxy shape. This allowed it to have a tall and narrow stance, making it good for tight roads and city streets in addition to the rougher four-wheel drive roads it was designed to tackle. The headlights started off rectangular, but in 1996 it received a design update that included round headlights.
Available Body Styles and Drivetrain
The Nissan Mistral was built on the Nissan WD21 Terrano platform, and was first available in Japan exclusively as the five-door longer version. This offered significant interior space for both passengers and cargo, but a rear overhang made it slightly less capable off-road. In 1995, the three-door shortened model joined the Mistral options offered in Japan. Most of the changes hit the rear cargo area, while leaving the second row passenger seat area mostly intact. The reduction in cargo space allowed for a better rear overhang that would provide increased approach angle capabilities. It was available with part-time four-wheel drive that could be manually engaged when needed. The Mistral's design also provided significant ground clearance, creating a very capable off-road machine that could handle large obstacles and slick surfaces of all types. Many Mistral models were fitted with additional off-road aftermarket parts, including additional front lights and bumper guards or push bars.
Reflections on the Nissan Mistral
The Mistral wasn't Nissan's fastest or most luxurious offering. But it met a specific market segment in a world with a growing demand for smaller sport utility vehicles. It offered a reasonable balance between affordability and capability, making it an excellent option for those seeking a four-wheel drive vehicle that doesn't break the bank. The Mistral and Ford Maverick were both discontinued in 1999, but the Nissan Terrano II sold in Europe continued production. It eventually dropped the II part of the name and was sold as the Nissan Terrano in later years, before being phased out in 2006 and replaced with three other SUV offerings from Nissan, the X-Trail which had been around since 2001, the Pathfinder, and the UK-built Qashqai.