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
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.
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.
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.
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.