From Japan to Europe, Nissan has been playing around with camper, digital nomad and adventure van concepts for the past few years. Now it’s getting a little more serious, working with the RV specialists at Dethleffs to create a small, configurable camper van made to bridge the gap between city commuting and open road exploration. The Primastar midsize van serves as the base of the Seaside camper, which uses adjustable rail-mounted captain’s chairs, a pop-up roof and two beds to transport and accommodate four adults in full comfort.
Prized for its boxier dimensions as compared to vans that taper in more above the belt line, the Renault Trafic has long served as the base for many creative camper vans, from those with in-van movie theaters to tightly packaged leisure vans complete with corner bathrooms. The Nissan Primastar/NV300 has been less common in the camper van market but not non-existent, as we saw with Nissan’s 2018 introduction of a Spanish-market camper van family and that year’s launch of the Westfalia-converted Michelangelo.
The success of the now-retired Michelangelo served as the inspiration behind Nissan’s collaboration with Dethleffs. Nissan says it sold more than 400 units between 2018 and 2020, when the Michelangelo was an attractive alternative to other Westfalia-designed midsize-van campers, such as the Ford Nugget or Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo.
After a short stint as the NV300, Nissan’s midsize European-market van bounced back to the Primastar name during a refresh last year. In transforming the van into a camper, Nissan and Dethleffs stick closely to the formula that set the Michelangelo apart from the competition, eliminating the rear bench common in the midsize camper van market in favor of two captain’s chairs, each independently mounted to floor rails. These seats can be removed or moved around as necessary, making additional space for cargo. As in the Michelangelo, owners can position the two seats on one side, making room on the other for long cargo such as surfboards, bicycles or skis. Owners can also purchase two extra seats separately, creating a six-seater ready for everyday passenger-carrying duties.
The Seaside includes a driver-side kitchenette with two-burner gas cooktop and sink combo, 36-L refrigerator and plenty of storage. A removable dining table attaches to the kitchen, accommodating the full family, who sit on the rear seats and swivel cab seats.
At night, the Seaside quickly transforms into a dual-bed hotel room. The 79 x 49-in (200 x 125-cm) lower bed folds out in the cabin, and the 74 x 49-in (189 x 125-cm) upper bed drops into place in the pop-up roof. The van sleeps four comfortably, making it an excellent family camper option.
The 200-in (508-cm)-long Seaside comes built on a Tekna-grade Primastaree and is powered by a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine that puts out 150 or 170 hp (110 or 125 kW). It includes an 8-in touchscreen-based infotainment and navigation system.
Nissan will launch the Seaside by Dethleffs camper van this summer at select dealerships in Germany and is exploring additional European markets like France. The Seaside will come with a Nissan five-year/160,000-km warranty on both van and camper conversion. We expect pricing to be announced closer to launch.
The Seaside, of course, is another European camper van with no hopes of an American counterpart. Not only does Nissan not offer the Primastar in the US, but it discontinued its existing American-market vans, the NV and NV200, in 2021.