Rebadged: Nissan Selling Badge-Engineered Mazda5 in Japan

When is a Mazda5 not a Mazda? When it’s sold as a Nissan, apparently. The two automakers announced yesterday that they’ve inked an agreement that will allow Nissan to sell a variation if the mini-minivan through its own dealer network in Japan.

Details on both the agreement and the   are still scarce, but in a joint press release, both firms insist Nissan’s 5 will be “clearly differentiated,” suggesting it won’t simply receive unique emblems, grille inserts, and other minor trim pieces. We wouldn’t be too surprised if Nissan moves to tone down the prominent Nagari-inspired waves that stretch across the Mazda5’s side sheetmetal.

Nissan hasn’t released any  volume predicitions, but we wonder how the 5 -- restyled or not -- will fit into the company’s domestic lineup. In Japan, Nissan already sells a number of small MPVs, including the similar-sized Serena C26, which was revamped for the 2010 model year.

Regardless, this isn’t the first time the two companies have shared product. Presently, Mazda’s compact Bongo commercial van is rebadged by Nissan, who sells it as the Vanette. Conversely, Nissan’s Versa-based AD/AD Expert panel wagon is also sold as the Mazda Familia Van.

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