NIS­SAN NAVARA ST-X 550

Volk­swa­gen has en­tered the lu­cra­tive ute mar­ket. But how does its small-en­gined Amarok spar with Nis­san’s new pow­er­house? NEIL DOWL­ING com­pares

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Value

This is the top-of-the-line Navara. The 550 flicks the 2.5-litre turbo diesel four in favour of Re­nault’s 3.0-litre V6 diesel with 170kW/550Nm. It’s mated this to a sev­en­speed se­quen­tial auto and elec­tric part-time 4WD sys­tem with low range. Fea­tures in­clude a six-speaker, six-CD au­dio with Blue­tooth and dual-zone air­con­di­tion­ing.

Tech­nol­ogy

This is the first show­ing of the V6 in a 4WD but maybe not the last. That, and the seven-speed auto, are the techno high­lights. The rest is, like the VW, pur­pose­fully con­ven­tional to re­main rugged, durable and to­gether over the rough stuff. This and the Amarok have neari­den­ti­cal coil-over sus­pen­sion.

De­sign

Un­like the Amarok, the Navara doesn’t win many hearts. It looks old-fash­ioned. But the dash­board is eas­ier to use than the VW’s and the steer­ing wheel con­trols are ex­cel­lent. Seat­ing is rea­son­able at the front but the cramped po­si­tion in the back is poor. VW is a lot bet­ter here. The lock­able ute lid is a great idea.

Safety

This rates un­der the Amarok de­spite hav­ing two more airbags. It adds sta­bil­ity con­trol and ABS with an off-road mode. As in the VW, it has rear drum brakes. Brak­ing per­for­mance is still great but a tad quaint. Navara also has five lap-sash seat­belts.

Driv­ing This can out-ac­cel­er­ate most cars on the mar­ket. It’s also smooth and very quiet. The seven cogs in the box suit the en­gine and the fact it’s an auto makes it fine for the fam­ily. It’s also com­fort­able. What lets it down is the un­com­mu­nica­tive steer­ing, which re­duces pre­ci­sion while cor­ner­ing.

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