Pickup, trucks, utes… they were once the bastion of the bush and tradies in Australia, but increasingly, they are finding their ways into the suburbs due to their versatility and “macho” image.
The Nissan Navara was one of the first full-size utes to hit the market, with the other being the venerable Toyota Hilux. It was one of the more popular ones before newer and more accomplished models, such as the increasingly popular Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, relegated it to the back seat.
Enter the new 2015 NP300 Navara – the first new Nissan Navara in a decade – tasked to meet the increasingly diverse requirements of the market, from Nigel the banker to Hayden the surfer and large mining corporations. Crucially, Nissan also hopes the new Navara will claw its way back up the sales ladder currently dominated by the Hilux and Ranger.
Available only as a dual cab with either rear- or four-wheel drive and powered by either a petrol or diesel engine, the NP300 Navara kicks off from $26,490 plus on-road costs and tops out with the ST-X 4WD diesel automatic, as tested here, from $54,490.
Design and comfort
Like most full-size utes – or pickups, as they are known these days – the NP300 Navara looks tough and more truck-like than before, featuring Nissan’s V-motion grille at the front that flows into the bonnet through to the front guard. The V-motion motif continues in the tailgate supporting the Nissan badge.
There’s also distinctive LED daytime running lights (ST and ST-X only), roof rails and chrome window moulding for a more upmarket look. At the back, the edge of the tailgate resembles a built in spoiler.
Inside, our range-topping ST-X is decked out more like a luxury SUV rather than an austere cargo hauler. The large, comfortable seats, steering wheel and door trims are all covered in leather, while cabin comfort is taken cared of by dual-zone climate control and electric front seats.
Nissan takes comfort one step further by giving the new Navara an SUV-like coil-spring rear suspension instead of the traditional leaf springs favoured by pickups.
The result is a crafty compromise between ride quality as demanded by Nigel and his young family, and a superior level of load lugging and durability as required by Aaron the tradie.
What they will both welcome is the Navara’s spacious cabin, thanks to a 3,150mm wheelbase – one of the longest in the segment. The journey is also made more enjoyable for rear seat passengers with a less vertical rear seat cushion, rear vents and more room all-around.
There’s even a rear power-sliding glass window for improved ventilation or carrying long, slender objects, although we suspect it would hardly get used.
There are four front row and two rear row cup holders, and two bottle holders for both front and rear rows. Storage options include the glove box, large concealed bin in the centre console, overhead sunglasses holder and flip up rear seats with concealed storage underneath.
Dual-cab models also feature three 12-volt power sockets in the dashboard, centre console tray and centre console storage box. A fourth, weather-proof 12-volt power socket resides in the rear tub.
Performance and Handling
Underneath the ST-X Navara’s bonnet lurks a twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder double-overhead camshaft diesel engine delivering 140kW at 3,750rpm and a healthy 450Nm of torque between 1,500rpm and 2,500rpm.
It features a two-stage turbocharger, 200MPa injector system, thermal management system and electrical variable displacement oil pump.
Power is transferred to the wheels via a seven-speed automatic transmission (or standard 6-speed auto) with expanded gear ratio, allowing for a wider range of speeds along with smooth acceleration and shift changes.
To satisfy its intended off-road market, the NP300 Navara’s dual-range gearing has a deep 2.717:1 ratio giving it superior off-road performance, especially mud and sand.
Its engine is responsive and pulls strongly, although can be a little vocal.
At the core of the Navara is a tough and capable fully boxed lightweight ladder frame chassis. The five-link rear suspension endows the large pickup with an almost SUV-like handling and ride comfort.
Like most pickups, the Navara’s steering is slow and requires a few more twirling of the steering from lock to lock. It takes some getting used to if you have never driven a pickup, but is characteristic of the segment. This is done to minimise sudden steering wheel kickback when encountering obstacles off-road.
Fit and finish in the Thai-built NP300 Navara is good, although still not quite up to Volkswagen Amarok standard.
While the dashboard is made of hard plastic, Nissan has done a great job in disguising the less expensive material with a semi-matte appearance. The same can’t be said about the alloy-look trim that appears to have come from a children’s toy gun.
Our week spent with the Navara ST-X returned a combined average of exactly 10L/100km – against Nissan’s claimed of 7.0L/100km.
This includes both city and freeway traverse with two on board.
Equipment and Features
Being the flagship of the Navara line-up, our ST-X is suitably well equipped. Standard features include a 7-inch colour touchscreen with Satellite Navigation (with 3D mapping), side steps, electric sunroof, heated and electrically adjustable front seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, keyless entry and push button start and auto dimming rear view mirror with compass.
On the safety front, all models come with 7 airbags (including driver’s knee airbag), ABS, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Vehicle Dynamic control with Brake Limited Slip Differential andTraction Control. Our ST-X also gains Hill Start Assist and Hill Descent Control.
If you’re in the market for a full-size pickup with SUV-like handling and comfort, the 2015 Nissan NP300 Navara should be on your shopping list.
It is well equipped, comfortable, yet has lost none of its off-road ability.
Whether you are Nigel or Aaron, the new Navara will happily accommodate your needs.
|Price (Excl. on-roads):||From $26,490 to $54,490|
|As tested: $55,405* *includes: Tow bar – $915.00|
|Service Intervals:||20,000/12 months|
|Engine:||2.3-litre four-cylinder common rail direct-injection twin turbo-diesel: 140kW @ 3,750rpm, 450Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm, 4WD Dual Range (tested)|
|2.3-litre four-cylinder common rail direct-injection turbo-diesel: 120kW @ 3,750rpm, 450Nm @ 1,500-2,500rpm, 4WD Dual Range|
|2.5-litre four-cylinder multipoint injection petrol: 122kW @ 6,000rpm, 238Nm @ 4,000rpm, rear-wheel drive|
|Transmission:||6-speed manual/7-speed automatic|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (Auto)(L/100km):||2.3 TTD – Claimed: 7.0/Tested: 10.0|
|2.3 TD – Claimed: 6.8|
|2.5 MPI – Claimed: 9.7|
|Body:||Dual Cab Pickup, 5-seats|
|Dimensions: L/W/H/W-B (mm):||5,255/1,850/1,840/3,150|
|Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM)(kg):||2,550 – 2,910|
|Gross Combined Mass (GCM)(kg):||4,138 – 5,910|
|Tare Mass (Auto)(kg):||1,618 – 1,921|
|Payload (Auto)(kg):||880 – 1,106|
|Approach Angle (degrees):||29.5 – 32.5|
|Departure Angle (degrees):||24.0 – 26.7|
|Towing Capacity (kg):||Braked: 1,588 – 3,500/Unbraked: 750|
The Competitors: Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok, Mazda BT50