It was a little over two years ago when AfriSki Mountain Resort hosted a Pop Bottles event. This was the first time I came across the (Pop Bottles) movement and Nissan South Africa was one of the sponsors.
The Navara Stealth had also been introduced into the market recently, with all sorts of creature comforts, and my assessment was that the brand was trying to keep up with the ever cruel and competitive bakkie segment.
The idea was to have patrons to the event book a test drive in the Navara Stealth, of which myself and another off-road instructor were assigned to do the actual test drive, with the prospective buyer in the passenger seat and experiencing what the Stealth could do in its element.
This was great fun for me and whoever came along, especially to those who have never had the opportunity to be properly off-road. And just for the record, in its true essence off-road does not refer to driving on bad gravel roads, as some people would think.
Unfortunately, the Nissan Navara Stealth had a hunting gearbox (experienced especially on the road), which I want to believe made a few people shy away from the brand offering in the Stealth guise, though its off-road capabilities could never be questioned. But, those perspectives (and experiences) are about to change, thanks to the launch of the new Nissan Navara.
Appearance (exterior and interior):
When I first laid eyes on images of the new Nissan Navara, I could not help but have long debates in my mind as to whether this is the bakkie aimed for our local markets. Initially, I felt like the brand made a mistake and it was destined for overseas markets. It was when I received an invite to be part of the team that will be working on the new Navara virtual launch shoot that my many questions were eventually answered.
The Navara packs a few new features in the front and these are as eye catching as spotting an oasis in the middle of the desert. On either end of the fresh interlocking front grille are bold headlights, each comprising of four LED projectors.
Not only are these also giving the Navara a bold and fearless stance, but they also offer 38-percent improved visibility. Add to these, are also LED fog lamps at the lower end of the front. From the front end alone, the new Nissan Navara is intimidating, looks the rugged part and lets anyone approaching that it is in the business of unsettling the already tough bakkie market.
The front lines flow seamlessly on the sides, are very pleasing to the eye and culminate perfectly at the rear. The new C-shape tail lamps really stand out. The tailgate itself has received some mechanical upgrades in the form of a torsion spring, which makes lifting heavy tailgates a thing of the past.
The rear step has also been refreshed and blends in with the rest of the rear end. The load bin itself has been raised slightly and fitted with Utili-tracks, lower attachment points and even a 12-volt power point, and has a load carrying capacity of 1090kg.
The Nissan Navara is made locally in South Africa and available in the following colour options: White, Silver, Techno Grey, Infinite Black, Red, Forged Copper and Warrior Grey. It is also available in double cab and single cab options, and I want to believe that companies who have been waiting to invest in some work horses will be relived, to date there has not been any offering from Nissan South Africa to replace the old NP300 range.
Stepping inside the cabin, one is greeted with new trim power leather seats (and these offer spinal support), dual air-conditioner with rear vents, new sports designed steering wheel with enhanced operation. The new steering wheel offers fewer turns lock to lock, 3.4 turns versus 4.1 of the predecessors. An 8-inch multi-touch colour display infortainment system is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple Carplay, available from the LE grade and upwards.
Thanks to the deployment of cabin insulation and absorption and acoustic glass that road noise can be cancelled almost completely. This is also achieved by reduced vibration as a result of new suspension enhancements. The new cabin also boasts more head room and shoulder room, 8mm and 42mm respectfully.
Performance (on and off-road):
Throughout the entire range a third generation 2.5 DDTi diesel engine is used, and this reliable powerplant has been mated to a 7-speed automatic gearbox in higher specification derivatives. You will be happy to know that gear changes are now very smooth, and the hunting tendencies have been done away with. There are two power options available, 140 kW/450 Nm high power fitted in the Pro4X and LE options and the mid power fitted in the SE+ (120 kW/403 Nm).
Nissan South Africa have kept the dual rate 5-link rear suspension, and this is responsible for less body movement, 5 percent improved body toss when loaded, 33percent improvement when 500 kg is loaded. So huge are these suspension improvements that it makes it difficult to spot the difference between a loaded and unloaded bakkie, without having to check physically.
The road performance of the Navara is very much car like and thanks to Nissan Intelligent Mobility features like: Driver Attention Alert, Blind Spot Warning, Intelligent Forward Collision, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Lane Departure Warning that your safety is held in great regard.
On the off-road side of things, you will be treated to decent approach and departure angles, 32.5 degrees and 26.4 degrees respectively in 4×4 and 31.7 degrees and 28.4 degrees in 4×2 guise. The inclusion a Diff-lock and an electronic braking limited slip feature, you will be tempted to play much further from civilization. Other off-road features are hill start and hill descent control.
The new Nissan Navara does not only look bold but redefines ruggedness with its off-road capabilities.
|LE||2.8 Raider||XLT||300 LX|
|SE Plus||2.4 Raider||XLS||X-Rider|
My final thoughts:
To say that the new Nissan Navara is a well put package, would be an understatement. As I have always mentioned before, the bakkie segment is very tight and cruel with some brands enjoying a monopoly of the top 5 bakkies. I want to believe that this time around the Nissan brand will have a fair chance of redeeming itself.
A further consideration and inclusion of the lower spec work horse will also see the brand enter the light commercial truck division with so much confidence, the NP300 range has long reached its market contribution sell-by date, and to date Nissan had not offered an alternative.
The perfectly matched gearbox will also contribute to a decent fuel economy of which is a huge plus for someone in the freight sector. All in all, the new Nissan Navara is bold, rugged, unapologetically capable and beast like, something the bakkie segment has been long crying for.