Nis­san Navara

NIS­SAN NAVARA All Nis­san Navara NP300 du­al­cab pick-ups, bar one basespec vari­ant, have coil rather than leaf springs at the rear

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

LOAD TEST

An­other new ar­rival for 2015, the Navara NP300 – also known as the D23 – has re­placed both the (two gen­er­a­tion old) D22 and the last gen­er­a­tion D40 in Nis­san’s ute line-up. In­ter­est­ingly, the NP300 will also pro­vide the ba­sis for up­com­ing utes from Renault and Mercedes Benz.

The NP300 stands out here for a num­ber of rea­sons. Firstly, all bar one NP300 dual-cab pick-ups come with coil springs at the rear, and the NP300 is the only ute here to have two tur­bos rather than one. The so­phis­ti­cated bi-turbo ar­range­ment fea­tures a smaller and a larger turbo ar­ranged se­quen­tially on a 2.3-litre en­gine of Renault ori­gin.

You can get a Navara dual-cab 4x4 with leaf springs at the rear, but only in the base-spec RX cab-chas­sis, and only with a sin­gle­turbo ver­sion (120kW) of the 2.3.

The Navara has ad­justable tie-downs, but the eyes need to be big­ger to be truly use­ful. The Navara’s rear dropped by 100mm with the 800kg pal­let in the back, a lot more than all the other utes here bar the Tri­ton.

Like the Tri­ton, the 800kg pal­let also causes prob­lems for the Navara’s le­gal pay­load when you take into ac­count the ex­tra weight of the driver, ob­server and tow­bar.

The lighter ST is okay, but with the heav­ier ST-X, the ob­server is again tech­ni­cally obliged to walk!

Un­der­way and up the wind­ing hill, the Navara doesn’t feel great chas­sis-wise with the 800kg on board. It bot­toms out fre­quently over the bumps, and the sway from the rear is far more an is­sue than with the leaf-sprung ve­hi­cle. All in all, it doesn’t feel happy.

Far bet­ter news with the en­gine, how­ever, which dis­misses the 800kg in the tray, read­ily get­ting on with the job in more than ad­mirable fash­ion. It’s still a bit nois­ier un­der load than what you ex­pect of a mod­ern-de­sign Euro­pean diesel, but, then again, it was orig­i­nally de­signed for com­mer­cial-ve­hi­cle ap­pli­ca­tion, which will hope­fully bode well for longevity.

The Navara is also un­usual in this com­pany with a seven-speed au­to­matic, which does most things well and is an as­set to what the punchy en­gine has to of­fer. No auto down­shifts, how­ever, on the de­scent with the load on board, which means re­sort­ing to the se­lec­tor’s tip-shift func­tion given the en­gine brak­ing from the small, low-com­pres­sion diesel isn’t great.

TOW TEST

The coil sprung multi-link rear end of the Nis­san was the sub­ject of much spec­u­la­tion in the lead-up to the tow test. The NP300 was launched with an em­pha­sis on tow­ing prow­ess. Un­for­tu­nately, our worst fears were con­firmed. The rear of the Navara plum­meted with a 3500kg load be­hind it.

The twin-turbo 2.3-litre en­gine is an­other donk that does a lot with what it’s got. Se­quen­tial tur­bocharg­ing keeps the com­bustibles flow­ing in at a de­cent rate to make the most of the rel­a­tively small en­gine ca­pac­ity. Again, it has to be held back to stop rpm run­ning away on down­hill runs, but with enough right foot it still has the grunt to have a go. The auto needs to be stirred to get the most out of the driv­e­line, but the big­gest area of con­cern is the chas­sis.

I don’t say this lightly, but this sus­pen­sion should not be rated at 3500kg tow­ing. It’s dan­ger­ous. Un­der load, the NP300 bump steered like no other ve­hi­cle in this test. The nose points sky­wards and the rear end squirmed more than a politi­cian dur­ing a travel ex­pense au­dit. I wouldn’t want to head to the lo­cal Bun­nings like this, let alone around Aus­tralia.

The Navara’s hitch had a ball down­force rat­ing of 300kg less than the 10 per cent of load usu­ally used as a yard­stick for a towed load at 3.5 tonne. Luck­ily, us­ing a fork­lift and pal­let as a coun­ter­weight meant we could move it around to get down­force and weight dis­tri­bu­tion to its op­ti­mum level. It would be hard to find a more bal­anced load to put be­hind a ve­hi­cle than the one we used.

The sin­gle-cab and ex­tra-cab N300 in the Navara range sit on leaf springs and are solid work­horses. There is one dual-cab vari­ant that sits on leaf springs, but it is only avail­able with the lower­out­put sin­gle-turbo en­gine.

The bulk of ev­ery­day dual-cab buy­ers are lean­ing to­wards the higher-spec vari­ants of all th­ese utes, and it stands to rea­son that pun­ters want­ing to tow are go­ing to head to­wards the high­er­out­put en­gine.

Given the loaded per­for­mance of the coil-sprung rear end, I’d sug­gest its tow rat­ing should be down­rated and leaf springs of­fered across the range as a heavy tow pack op­tion. The coils are way too com­pro­mised for hard work un­der load. It’s also worth men­tion­ing the NP300 doesn’t fea­ture trailer sway con­trol as a part of its sta­bil­ity pro­gram.

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