Ute en­joys French li­ai­son

Turbo diesels a welcome ad­di­tion to Nissan’s up­graded work­horse, writes PETER BARN­WELL.

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

WE turn the spotlight on the car world’s new­est and bright­est stars as we ask the ques­tions to which you want the an­swers. But there’s only one ques­tion that needs an­swer­ing — would you buy one.

This is Nissan’s re­place­ment for the long-serv­ing D40 one­tonne ute, a favourite with Aussie buy­ers. Called the NP300, the new model is a ground up ef­fort com­plete with Re­nault-sourced en­gines and coil spring sus­pen­sion.

They start at $30,000 and go to $59,000. We drove the RX dual cab diesel auto and the range-top­ping ST-X dual cab diesel auto.

The RX is pos­si­bly go­ing to be the most pop­u­lar model based on its kit and price of $42,490.

Hilux, Tri­ton, Amarok,

Ranger, BT50, Colorado, D-Max.

The petrol is a 2.5 four lifted from X-Trail that would strug­gle in this ap­pli­ca­tion, par­tic­u­larly when loaded. The diesel is a 2.3 Re­nault de­sign, one with a sin­gle turbo and the other with twin tur­bos.

The sin­gle is good for 120kW/403Nm while the twin achieves 140kW/450Nm — al­most as good as Ford’s Ranger 3.2-litre five-cylin­der. The man­ual is a six-speed, the auto a seven.

The twin turbo goes great and hardly no­tices a load but the sin­gle turbo is al­most as good and uses less fuel.

The sin­gle turbo is the one as it can achieve mid 6.0s in gen­eral driv­ing. Nissan says the twin turbo is as good but we didn’t see that — pos­si­bly be­cause you tend to use the

avail­able power more of­ten.

Gets a 3.5-star rat­ing.

Five stars, though only some mod­els get a re­verse cam­era as stan­dard equip­ment.

Very much so. The two ve­hi­cles we drove — dual cab diesel autos — had coil springs all round and sway bars to keep the beast level around corners. Ride qual­ity is im­pres­sive for a ute, es­pe­cially when com­pared with other brands with leaf rear springs.

The in­te­rior is well ap­pointed but has a hard plas­tic dash — OK for a work truck.

It looks good and has a pretty good Blue­tooth hook-up with six-speaker sound. The seats have what Nissan calls spinal sup­port and they work — no prob­lems on a long trip. Plenty of kit is in­cluded in the ST-X and RX.

There’s an old D22 in the fam­ily and it was in­ter­est­ing to drive the two back to back. The old D22 ain’t half bad but the NP300 rides bet­ter, has stronger per­for­mance and is much safer.

At $42,000-plus for the RX diesel auto dual cab, it’s on the money.

Maybe, the styling is fairly generic and it’s safer than be­fore. Ride qual­ity — even un­laden — is im­pres­sive and the en­gines go well, par­tic­u­larly with a seven-speed auto be­hind them.

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