Nissan has announced that its new 4×4, the Pathfinder, will start from £24,000 when it goes on sale at the end of March.

Engineered in Cranfield, Bedfordshire and built at Nissan’s NMISA factory in Spain, the Pathfinder is a seven-model range aimed squarely at the active, get-up-and-go family, and becomes the sixth offering in Nissan’s expanding 4×4 portfolio. Its rugged styling is derived from the 2003 Dunehawk show car.

The Pathfinder features a robust body-on-frame design with the latest version of Nissan’s ALL-MODE electronic four-wheel drive technology. As well as incorporating ESP and traction control, the new system has added dexterity thanks to a low ratio mode for added grip and manoeuvrability in mud or snow.

At 4.74m long, the Pathfinder is shorter than a typical seven-seat MPV (Chrysler Voyager, 4.8m) and is shorter even than a family estate such as the 4.82m long Vauxhall Vectra.

The entry-level S version has five seats, although Nissan expects most Pathfinders will be sold with seven seats in three forward-facing rows. In the Pathfinder, rear access is achieved by folding and flipping the middle row of seats forwards in a one-handed, single action. In addition, the rear side doors open to an unusually wide angle of 85 degrees.

Both middle and rear seats fold completely to provide a flat load area and folding the third row of seats can also be undertaken from outside the vehicle. Each seat has a simple release handle which when pulled allows the backrest to be folded forwards onto the seat squab. The front passenger seat also folds, giving a 2.8m long uninterrupted load area.

When it comes to equipment, alloy wheels, climate control, CD audio and a full set of airbags – front, side and curtain – are standard on all versions. Moving up the range adds privacy glass, Bluetooth phone compatibility, trip computer, leather upholstery, electric front seats, rear heating controls, Intelligent Key, xenon headlamps, DVD satellite navigation and a colour rear view parking camera.

Most Pathfinders will be powered by a new version of the turbocharged and intercooled common rail diesel that powers the X-TRAIL. For Pathfinder, the displacement of the four-cylinder unit has been increased to 2.5-litres (up from 2.2-litres) with power and torque rising to 174PS and 403Nm respectively. Top speed is 109mph, while 60mph arrives in 11.7 seconds and economy is rated at 31.4mpg over the combined cycle.

Later in the year, a petrol model will be added to the range, powered by a 269PS, 4.0-litre version of the V6 engine that drives the 350Z. Both diesel and petrol models will have the choice of manual or automatic transmission (in the case of the former, it’s a new six speed ‘box).

The diesel range starts at £24,000 for the five-seater S and rises to £30,660 for the top-of-the-range T-Spec seven-seater. Automatic transmission, available on all versions except the S, adds £1,300, so the top price to be paid for a Pathfinder is £31,960 for the T-Spec auto. Prices for the petrol models, which will only be available in T-Spec trim, will be announced when sales start in September.

S trim means ALL-MODE 4×4, 17 inch alloy wheels, dual zone climate control, front, side and curtain airbags, CD player, electric windows and heated door mirrors. The second row of seats (this is the five-seater remember) splits on a 40:20:40 basis.

Next up is SE trim. This adds £1,800 to the S price but also adds front fog lamps, roof rails, rear privacy glass, height and lumbar adjustable driver seat, compass, altimeter and trip computer, CD autochanger with six speakers, steering wheel audio controls, opening rear glass hatch and the third row of seats.

An extra £2,460 gest you the SVE model with side steps, leather upholstery, electric front seat adjustment with memory, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlamps, automatic dimming rear view mirror, separate air conditioning controls in the rear and Nissan’s Intelligent Key, which allows the driver to lock and unlock the doors and even start and stop the engine without having to fumble for a key.

Top-of-the-range is the T-Spec model, which adds £2,400 to the cost of the SVE, but adds an electric tilt and slide sunroof, xenon headlamps with headlamp washers, DVD satellite navigation system with new generation Birdview technology and a seven inch full colour screen and colour rear view camera, while the audio system has been upgraded with MP3 compatibility. Bluetooth phone integration is also standard, as is voice operation for the navigation and phone systems.