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