UTE THAT DRIVES LIKE A CAR
DIESEL NAVARA OFFERS SEATING AND POTHOLE SURPRISES
YOU can make a ute as smart and comfy as you like, but there will always be a call for a basic one.
Nissan’s Navara NP300 launched a while ago with some of the handsome models featuring coil-sprung rear suspension. A big step forward in ute-world, we reckoned.
But quite recently it boosted its considerable Navara range to 27, with the newest ones in single-cab, king-cab and dual-cab; all with leaf springs.
Most are also available in several levels of spec and then there’s the choice of petrol or diesel power, the latter with single or dual turbo.
And two or 4WD, manual or automatic.
It’s a bewildering line-up, but somewhere among the 27 is a model for every taste and application, from tradie to deliveryman to weekend adventurer and family conveyance.
Prices start from $19,500 to $55,000.
We had a single-turbo diesel (120kW/403Nm) king cab RX with 4WD, six-speed manual and an aluminium tray and a price tag of $35,500.
What’s a ‘king cab’? One with the usual two front seats, with a pair of jump seats behind. The latter are OK for adults for a short distance, but better suited to kids, pets or for extra cargo.
To get into the back seats, a hidden lever inside opens the back doors. It leaves some people stunned, because visually the smart cab appears to be solely a two-door.
Standard equipment includes seven airbags, six-way adjustable driver’s seat, single CD player with four-speaker AM/FM radio, AUX and USB/iPod connectivity, Bluetooth hands-free phone with steering wheel controls, audio streaming and some power sockets.
It runs on 16-inch steel wheels and has a full-sized spare wheel.
The dash is pretty straightforward with clear dials and visibility is tops in all directions.
The seats are quite impressive, comfortably firm, but the big surprise was how well the leaf-sprung beastie handled bumps and potholes.
Most with that kind of suspension give a jarring ride, but the Navara, possibly helped by its 3150mm wheelbase, was a model of comfort.
In fact, it was probably the most car-like ute we’d had in a long while.
Performance was strong, the diesel emitting a pleasant thrum at cruising speeds, and fuel economy was good too at an average 7.0litres/100km.
Airbags apart, the Navaras come with stability control and several more electronic driver aids and score a five-star safety rating.
Verdict: Well-built (in Thailand), well-equipped, stylish and competent.
The handsome Navara King Cab. The one on test had a tradie tray. And yes, the panel behind the driver’s
door really is another door.