The new Nis­san Navara is upon us, and Damien O'Car­roll has a pre-launch look at it.


The all-new NP300 Nis­san Navara is al­most here. Damien O'Car­roll gives us the run-down in his ex­clu­sive prelaunch re­port.

The Nis­san Navara has long been a main­stay of the ute seg­ment here in New Zealand, with the last model in par­tic­u­lar prov­ing it­self to be a strong seller and solid per­former, even as it aged, par­tic­u­larly when com­pared to its younger com­peti­tors. But now a new model is about to go on sale in New Zealand and is set to take the fight right back up to the likes of the Ford Ranger, the re­cently re­leased Mit­subishi Tri­ton, and the soon-to-be-re­leased all­new Toy­ota Hilux. The new Navara now joins the ma­jor­ity of other utes on sale in New Zealand by be­ing built in Thai­land, where the pre­vi­ous ve­hi­cle was built in Spain. Go­ing against the arena in the ute seg­ment ( and, in­deed, the en­tire car in­dus­try), the new NP300 Navara hasn’t ac­tu­ally grown very much over the last model, even shrink­ing a bit in one area; en­gi­neers re­duced the wheel­base slightly ( by 50mm) to im­prove the han­dling and turn­ing cir­cle.


De­spite this wheel­base re­duc­tion, over­all length is up by 30mm ( for the dou­ble cab), while width is the same and the height ac­tu­ally drops by 10mm or raises by 5mm depend­ing on the model. Over­all this makes the new Navara only slightly smaller than a Ford Ranger, mean­ing it is still a large ve­hi­cle. The new Navara will be of­fered in New Zealand across four grades – DX, RX, ST and ST-X – with a to­tal of 14 dif­fer­ent mod­els avail­able. The model range comes from a com­bi­na­tion of driv­e­trains ( 4WD or RWD), tray op­tions ( well­side or cab/ chas­sis), cab op­tions ( sin­gle cab, king cab and dou­ble cab), trans­mis­sions ( six- speed man­ual or seven- speed au­to­matic) and en­gines ( t wo diesel op­tions and one petrol). Un­der its newly-sculpted bon­net, the Navara packs an all-new Re­nault­de­vel­oped 2.3-litre in­line four-cylin­der diesel en­gine that pro­duces 140kW of

power and 450Nm of torque in top-spec twin-turbo guise. The 2.3 does duty across the en­tire Navara range, with two power out­puts avail­able – the pre­vi­ously men­tioned 140kW/ 450Nm ver­sion and a lower-pow­ered 118kW/ 403Nm ver­sion. Also avail­able will be a 122kW/ 238Nm 2.5-litre four-cylin­der petrol en­gine. All three en­gines will be avail­able with a choice of a six-speed man­ual or sev­en­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.


Un­der­neath the Navara’s sleek new body sits a heav­ily re­vised ver­sion of the pre­vi­ous ute's chas­sis ( with the afore­men­tioned 50mm taken out of its length), but whereas pre­vi­ously the Navara sat on an ex­pected-for-the-seg­ment leaf spring sus­pen­sion set-up at the rear, the new model in­tro­duces five-link coil-spring sus­pen­sion to the rear. While the tra­di­tional leaf spring set-up will still be avail­able on cab/chas­sis mod­els, all dual cab well­side mod­els will come with the multi-link set-up, with Nis­san claim­ing the same axle ar­tic­u­la­tion and load-bear­ing ca­pac­ity for both sus­pen­sion styles. On the road th­ese big changes have led to a ute that is re­laxed and re­mark­ably com­fort­able. The new sus­pen­sion gives the Navara a far more con­fi­dent feel to its han­dling, es­pe­cially with­out a load in the tray, while the ride is im­pres­sive.


Off- road the Navara is equally im­pres­sive, with the new sus­pen­sion again prov­ing to be a mas­sive ad­van­tage in off- road com­fort. Nis­san claims ap­proach and de­par­ture an­gles of 31 and 25.6 de­grees re­spec­tively for the Navara, and the torquey en­gine and seven-speed auto coped par­tic­u­larly well in off road sit­u­a­tions. Back on the road the en­gine and auto trans­mis­sion work equally well to­gether, while the six-speed man­ual we drove later was a sim­ply mas­sive im­prove­ment over the cur­rent man­ual, which al­ways felt like you were stir­ring a bucket of sand with a pool noo­dle. In­side, the new Navara boasts a new in­te­rior, with far higher qual­ity ma­te­ri­als than pre­vi­ous mod­els. The top-spec ST-X gains re­mote key­less en­try and push but­ton start, while the ST-X and mid-grade ST model also get the Nis­sanCon­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The RX, ST and ST-X king and dou­ble cab mod­els also gain a rear power slid­ing win­dow. Dou­ble cab well­side mod­els of the new Navara go on sale this month, while the king and sin­gle cab mod­els go will be avail­able in the third quar­ter of this year.

Im­prove­ments are no­tice­able on and off the road

Five-link coil-spring rear end sets new NP300 apart from other utes

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