ON A prom­ise

Re­cent changes to the Navara D23 haven’t helped it gain any more trac­tion in the mar­ket place

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Ute Review: Nissan Navara -

The Navara is the sec­ond of the best-sell­ing 4WD utes to ac­tu­ally lose sales in the first half of 2018 com­pared with the same time last year de­spite a ris­ing mar­ket.

In the first six months of 2018 Nis­san sold 6,722 Navara 4WDs, some 651 fewer than the same time in 2017. This may not look like a big drop but comes de­spite two up­grades since this gen­er­a­tion Navara (the D23) first ap­peared in late 2015 and in light of gen­er­ally dis­ap­point­ing sales along the way. When you con­sider the pre­vi­ous D40 Navara was sell­ing twice that five years ago – in a 4WD ute mar­ket that was 20 per cent smaller – and was sec­ond only to the all-con­quer­ing Hilux at the time, the D23 hasn’t been what Nis­san would have wanted.

The D23 (or NP300 as it was ini­tially known) came with the fan­fare of coil-spring rear sus­pen­sion, a the­o­ret­i­cally bet­ter ar­range­ment than leaf springs, and a so­phis­ti­cated bi-turbo en­gine and ac­com­pa­ny­ing seven-speed au­to­matic gear­box.

While the en­gine pro­vided plenty of per­for­mance, helped by the seven-speed auto and rel­a­tively short gear­ing, the coil­spring rear sus­pen­sion, es­pe­cially for heavy load car­ry­ing or tow­ing, was prob­lem­atic right from start. The front-to-rear sus­pen­sion match wasn’t great ei­ther, nor was the too-heavy and too-slow steer­ing.

Within 12 months Nis­san ad­dressed this via the Se­ries II model with new rear coils, new dampers front and rear, and re­vised sus­pen­sion bush­ings.

More sus­pen­sion changes were im­ple­mented for the 2018 model with a sec­ond new set of rear coils, new rear dampers and a re­vised steer­ing rack.

Thank­fully, the Navara is bet­ter for all th­ese changes, es­pe­cially in its gen­eral on-road hand­ing, ride and steer­ing, which is now very ac­cept­able in fact. But it’s still not great at tow­ing its claimed 3,500kg max­i­mum tow weight or car­ry­ing its full the­o­ret­i­cal pay­load of around 1,000kg. Nor is it a gun off-road ute where its lack of wheel travel and low-ish stance puts it at a dis­ad­van­tage com­pared with the best of its ri­vals.

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