It has been an anticipated date, the launch of the all-new Nissan Navara. The 2016 International Pick-Up of the Year, and it arrived last week on the fairest Cape, and on the dunes of the West Coast. Nissan is a company that specialises in pick-ups, its in their DNA, and historically they have made them well. Always counted in the top three bakkies in SA, the Navara has lost a lot of traction on the local market by being absent for so long.
Toyota Hilux & Ford Ranger rule the roost now and there a number of other contenders right behind, such as Isuzu and Triton. However, the Navara has always been a proper bakkie, not a pretender, it hasn’t been known as Rugged for nothing. So it certainly looks the part, tough enough, without having to be tougherrer, as some competitors are aspiring to. It has been a workhorse in the past, but to fit in with its able competition, it has to bring more to the table now. It has to essentially drive almost like a car, and be as comfortable as well.
Thanks to its award winning coil spring five link rear suspension, this goes a long way to being the case with the Navara.
How it looks?
But we start with how it looks, based on its next generation V-motion chrome grille which flows into the creased bonnet and is resolved on the tailgate, which features a stamped V-motif. In side profile the Navara looks sporty with the new creases & folds, which are above the huge door fenders. With a 20mm lower roof and a blacked out B-pillar, side steps & rear privacy glass it paints a pretty picture. But the butch nature of the Navara is enhanced by 16 inch alloys on its low grade and 18inch on the High grade model.
Comments from colleagues about the rear of the Navara is that it looks very much like the older model, probably due to the Navara smile crease in the tailgate. With a capacity of 1061 L it has the biggest loadbox to date. Load carrying capacity has also been upgraded significantly. The new Navara can carry up to 1 002kg, depending on specification level, and thanks to its powerful new engine it can tow a braked trailer of up to 3 500kg.
The ground clearance of 229 mm seems to be a little short of what is needed, however going over steep dunes in the West Coast area did not lead to it hanging up on the dune faces. And the departure angles (27.9 degrees was also good enough that we did not take a front bumper off), when exiting a steep dune face.
Comfort in the Cabin?
I liked the bigger doors that allow easy access to the Navara. And the seats are comfortable as well. The brand-new cockpit design centres on the touch-screen infotainment and navigation system that is standard equipment across the range. Electrically operated rear window is cool. It has automatic dimming rear view mirror, auto LED headlights & 7 airbags for safety.
Does it have the Power?
Coming in three double cab models, with Mid or High specification and six-speed manual or seven-speed auto transmission. The Navara has the 140kw Twin-Turbo 2.3L diesel engine powering it. I found this engine to be responsive and had plenty of grunt- 450nm torque. However I much preferred the auto variant as the changes were smooth and in sync. The manual transmission seemed unsure and it also seemed to make the Navara a bit wallowy on the road.
Fuel consumption in a combined cycle has been claimed at 6.5 litres per 100km, allowing for a range of over 1 000km on a full 80 litre fuel tank. The award-winning coil, five link rear suspension, in the auto variant really works well, and the Navara felt smooth and easy to handle, even on a gravel road at speeds where it should have been tail happy. This was the case with the manual version though, and my choice would be a definite auto.
The 4×4 section of our route was enjoyable, and the conversion from 2H to 4H or 4L is done at the turn of a button, up to 100km/h which is very convenient. There were no awkward moments of getting stuck, and diff lock was not engaged. As long as you keep momentum you are golden. In four-wheel drive mode, either High or Low, the new Navara will engage its new Active Brake Limited Slip Differential system (ABLS). This electronic system actively manages power delivery and wheel braking between the front and rear axles and between the left and right of the vehicle, depending on traction and speed.
The High-spec models also add Hill-start Assist (HSA) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard features, and they, too, are connected to the ABLS-system when present.
The Navara comes with a full rrange of optional accessories and these can be tailored as your pocket allows.
The Navara will fit back into the bakkie fray with aplomb, and it should be on drivers list to purchase. I have always enjoyed Nissan pick-ups, and for me it was not a disappointment, however, there is a lot of competition out there and it depends on how much marketing Nissan do to keep it top of mind for buyers.
Nissan Assured warranty includes a mechanical warranty for 6 years or 150 000km and a comprehensive 3-year / 90 000km service plan.
Pricing and range
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 SE Double Cab MT – R514 900 (incl. VAT)
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 LE Double Cab –MT – R565 900 (incl. VAT)
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDT 4×4 LE Double Cab AT –R597 900 (incl. VAT)