Is the new Nissan Navara capable enough to put up a competitive fight or will it run home to mommy? I went to the Western Cape to find out.
The Navara definitely looks like the modern rendition of the previous model with its bold front end featuring the brand’s signature V-shaped chrome grille. Flowing into the creased bonnet line, this detail continues at the rear thanks to a stamped V-motif and extended tailgate, which Nissan claims helps improve fuel economy.
From the side, I noticed that the front overhang is short, helping approach and departure angles, while the upsweep of the rear window adds to the iconic design of Nissan’s more rugged offerings.
On the inside
When I first got into the Navara, I was pleasantly surprised by the overall look and feel. The designers and engineers have used quality plastics throughout with leather or cloth trim, depending on the specification. A big plus was space in the rear as well as passenger air vents.
There are however some issues. By far my biggest gripe is the infotainment system and display. It is really not the best. Our long term Nissan X-Trail has a better system. For starters, it is far too small, not user friendly and the reverse camera is useless. It also looks and feels like an aftermarket unit.
To redeem themselves of the horrible infotainment system, Nissan has given the Navara a gem of an engine. It is a brand new 2.3-litre dCi twin-turbo diesel which combines common rail direct injection with a small high pressure turbo and a larger low pressure blower for a total output of 140kW and 450 Nm.
Thanks to this newfound power, the Navara can tow 3.5-tons and the entry level model with 16-inch wheels can load just over a ton. It also weighs 77 kg less than the old Navara which, along with aerodynamic improvements, gives a claimed consumption figure of 6.5-litres/100km. Driven with the utmost care though, I managed 9.2-litres/100km.
The all important drive
This is where things get really good for Nissan. You see, the Navara features a coil spring five-link rear suspension, the first in the segment. What are the benefits? In a nutshell, it improves comfort as well as handling, especially on gravel. Add in Nissan’s proprietary four-wheel-drive system which combines a transfer case that features a host of electronic aids, and you have a formidable off-road machine.
After spending many, and I do mean many kilometres behind the wheel of the new Nissan Navara, I do think it has arrived guns blazing, and it's about time. It offers what could be the best ride quality in the segment and despite the infotainment system, the interior quality is noteworthy. Is it any good? I think so, and so does Mercedes-Benz and Renault because both have bakkies on the way based on the Navara platform.
Navara 2.3 dCi 4x4 SE Double Cab - R514 900
Navara 2.3 dCi 4x4 LE Double Cab - R565 900
Navara 2.3 dCi 4x4 LE Double Cab AT - R597 900
On the new Navara, the Nissan Assured warranty includes a mechanical warranty of six-year/150 000km and a three-year/90 000km service plan.