Carving your own path and going against conventional thinking is never an easy thing. It often means you need to go against the wave and still be convincing enough that your thought process is towards the right direction. One car manufacturer that has carved a path that has seen other manufactures follow suit on the exact path is Nissan, with its latest Navara. The car was launched here in South Africa in March 2017… and already the Navara’s architecture will be used for the Mercedes X-Class and the Renault Alaskan. This is testament to the new architecture of the Navara.
Whilst this is a review solely for the Navara, it would have been a worthy exercise to see by how much are the claimed improvements on the other bakkie’s based on the Navara actually stack up to the original.
What we had on test was the Navara 2.3D LE 4X2 AT DC, which is priced from R575,500 comes with a 3 year/60,000km service plan and a 6 year/150,000km warranty. This model and trim comes with a reverse camera and reverse sensors. More detail on the reverse camera in a bit. You also get hill start assist and hill descent control, 7 speed automatic transmission, front heated seats, roof rails, 5-link coil rear suspension and 18 inch allow wheels. Complementing the list of specs is the fit and finish of how well interior is put together. Yes, the materials are plastic – but everything from the dash to the doors is solidly put together. You do get the feeling that everything will take the abuse that bakkie’s are built for. Ergonomics are also great despite the busy but functional infotainment. The cabin is really a lovely space to be in and space is aplenty.
The exterior was also impressive. I am not a bakkie person by any measure – but I liked how the Navara looked. Without getting too much into the looks, as these are subjective – my opinion of the overall aesthetics were in line with a few colleagues in that it actually looked good and did not give off that tough or nothing image. It exuded some class which made it easy on the eye.
With very little fault to find thus far – I was wondering how the drive and daily use of what seems to be a behemoth compared to my previous reviews, would fair. The 2.3D engine is frugal. Admittedly, at first it did not seem like the case. The fuel gauge seems to be configured in such a way that the mileage covered and what is remaining doesn’t correlate. So in short – just look at the trip odometer and avoid any mini heart attacks. So I ultimately managed an average of 8.2l / 100km during the review period. This is commendable when you consider the adequate pulling power of 140kW and 450NM. And speaking of pulling power. The Navara is claimed to have a towing capacity of 3,5 tons (braked) and a load of a ton. We were unable to test this during the period when we had the vehicle for test. What we were able to test to a degree is the off-road capability. Being a 4X2, with a ground clearance of 229mm – going over gravel and rocks is not an issue. At speed, there was a slight but noticeable understeer which got a bit trickier due to the Navara’s lack of steering feedback. For the roads we took the car on – the gravel was not intrusive in the cabin and the car remained composed.
Any major obstacles were avoidable by utilizing the reverse camera, which had switchable views of the rear, and front tires. So you can place and/or squeeze the car in really tight spots and ensure you miss any rocks that may scratch the rims. This was a very good feature to have – but its location is on the rear view camera. So the actual view is rather small and means that you can’t just glance at it – but need to actually focus on it to see it properly. This would be better on the infotainment display as this is a much bigger display.
Either than that small (pun intended) issue, there is plenty to like with the Navara. Reasons why its architecture is being utilized by other manufactures is evident in many areas. Barring its size – there aren’t many reminders that you’re in a bakkie. Refinement is good and there are lots of luxuries too.
Definitely one to be short-listed for buyers in the market for a bakkie.
Leave a comment