The Nissan Rasheen was a compact five-door SUV produced from 1994 to 2000.
Nissan Rasheen Design and Introduction
The first sign of the Nissan Rasheen was at the 1993 Tokyo Auto Show where Nissan introduced the prototype model. It was a smaller crossover SUV, set to take on a growing market segment. While some SUVs had been around for decades, they were usually more truck-like or focused on a military application. That was all changing as some families, young professionals, and others grew to demand a vehicle that was capable, offered plenty of cargo space, yet could still drive well around city roads. At the Nissan Rasheen's production release in 1994, the body proved to keep the incredibly angular appearance that gave this model a distinctive look like nothing else. The front end somewhat resembled a small truck, but the platform was actually shared with the popular Nissan Sunny four-door sedan. It also sourced some components from the Nissan Pulsar, specifically the four-wheel drive powertrain.
Inspiration and Body Characteristics
Some saw the design as heavily influenced by European vehicles of the era, including the Wartburg 353, but also featured some characteristics from Nissan's own "Pike" car lineup, such as the Figaro and S-Cargo. It was a unique look that stood apart from the crowd. The square design allowed for a maximized interior cargo space, but was at the cost of aerodynamics and fuel efficiency, which were not a priority many of the people interested in the larger SUV-like models. It was more about cargo space and capability. The Rasheen could seat five passengers fairly comfortably, offering more spacious front-row seats. The dashboard featured analog gauges, somewhat behind other vehicles with digital instrument clusters at the time.
Engine and Available Options
At its release, a 1.5L GA15DE inline-4 engine was offered, production 105 horsepower. It was made with four-wheel drive standard, giving those who desired a vehicle that could conquer slick roads and more challenging terrain a good option. It used a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. In 1997, a larger 1.8L SR18DE inline-4 engine with 125 horsepower was available in the Nissan Rasheen. It retained its four-wheel drive capability and the same transmission options. In 1998, a larger 2.0L SR20De inline-4 engine was added to the lineup as the most powerful engine with 145 horsepower. This still kept within Japan's restrictions on engine displacement sizes, with anything 2.0L and under getting favorable road tax treatment. This larger engine model went by the Nissan Rasheen Forza and included some changes. One was that it was only available in the automatic transmission. But it also changed the exterior appearance, adding some features not seen in other Rasheen models. The four round front headlights were among the most distinctive, but another major change was plastic fender extensions that gave it an even more angular, square, and bulky appearance, especially on the front end. Some Nissan Rasheens had a spare tire mounted to the rear door, which sung open to the side, not up as many modern crossover SUVs tend to have. Other models had the spare in a different location, giving the rear end a drastically different look.
End of the Road for the Nissan Rasheen
As Carlos Ghosn took over the helm at Nissan, the Rasheen was phased out in accordance with Mr. Ghosn's Nissan Revival Plan, which took out many existing models in favor or refreshing the brand. Eventually the Nissan X-Trail, also known as the Rogue in some markets, took its place and continued forward in a growing segment that would eventually become more of the world's most sought after body styles, the compact crossover SUV.