Nissan SA has confirmed that the new Pathfinder will be based on the existing model, but there will be cosmetic tweaks.

Nissan South Africa has announced that it'll soon be launching a new Pathfinder that was developed specifically for our market and that the off-roader will have a more affordable price tag.

Contrary to popular speculation that we'll be getting the new Pathfinder 'softroader' that was launched in the US last year, our contact at Nissan SA has told us that the 'new' Pathfinder will be closely based on the existing model.

The source cited research that shows our market prefers a "more rustic" type of SUV. This is something that the sales figures of the Toyota Fortuner portray very clearly.

Nissan promises to "tackle the stalwarts of the medium SUV segment head-on" and that its 2013 Pathfinder will "tip the scales of the value equation firmly in its favour."

The current Pathfinder sells for between R531 150 and R646 150, which puts it out of contention with the Fortuner despite being a similar type of vehicle. Though the folks at Nissan remain tight-lipped about the pricing of the new model, logic dictates that they'd be looking within the Fortuner's price bracket, which falls between R345 700 and R493 300.

We can't squeeze any pictures out of them as yet, but when we asked how different the new Pathfinder will look, our contact said it would retain the current model's basic shape, but that there would be subtle styling changes.

Mechanically it'll be similar to the today's Pathfinder, offering a traditional 4x4 system and independent suspension to achieve a good balance between off-road ability and on-road comfort.

Nissan also boasts that its diesel engine will offer class-leading power and torque, translating into the best towing capacity in its class. They're not throwing any numbers at us yet but they have admitted that the engine will be based on the existing 2.5 dCi turbodiesel, which puts out 140kW and 450Nm in its existing guise.

But will the new Pathfinder, due in the first quarter of this year, "set the cat among the pigeons" as Nissan states? Looks promising so far.