Can the new Navara’s fancy suspension still take a big load?
There has been a lot of interest in the new Nissan D23 Navara recently launched in South Africa. Social media has been abuzz with comments, both positive and negative, regarding the new vehicle. Some of the more common discussions centre around the fact that this is a joint NissanRenault project with many of the opinions relating to the Renault connection. It would seem that few people are aware of the fact that Renault has owned Nissan for almost a decade and a half and that the two companies have a long-standing partnership in developing and sharing vehicle platforms across a broad spectrum of models. Even fewer are aware of the fact that Renault has owned Dacia Automotive since 1999, with several Dacia vehicles on our roads badged as Renault or Nissan. These include the popular Renault Duster, the Renault Sandero and, most significantly, the Nissan NP200 half-ton bakkie, which is essentially a Dacia Logan pickup. There is talk that Renault themselves will launch the Renault-badged version of the D23 here in the near future as well. Of even more interest is the fact that Mercedes-Benz is set to launch an upmarket double cab bakkie in South Africa in the future, which is also to be based on the D23 platform. This is a result of the fact that Renault-Nissan and Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz) own a small stake in each other’s companies.
Suspense about the suspension
One negative comment that naturally caught my attention was around the Navara’s new rear suspension. The D23 features coil springs as opposed to the conventional leaf springs found on just about every other bakkie currently on sale in South Africa. Specific comments related to concerns about the loadcarrying ability of the new bakkie with the coil-sprung rear axle. There is certainly a perception that coil springs cannot carry as much load as leaf springs, so I went digging. A little bit of investigation revealed that, according to the Nissan Australia website, the leaf-sprung D23 double cab has a potential to carry a payload of 1147kg as opposed to the coilsprung models, which can carry up to 1031kg. Bear in mind, however, that the leaf-sprung model is a cab-chassis offering, which means it doesn’t come standard with a load bin or tub but only with a passenger cab as well as a naked chassis at the back. This is preferred by tradesmen, who fit a flat tray onto the rear instead of the conventional load bin. They do so since these flat trays are designed to accommodate various modular steel boxes for tools and equipment. But, since the payload difference between the leafand coil-sprung variants is only 116 kg, you’ll probably end up with very similar load capacities if you add the weight of a conventional load bin to the leaf-sprung cab-chassis model.
It’s not that new, actually
Though the new Navara’s rear coils have been big news in the bakkie industry, it isn’t actually the first utility vehicle to sport this difference in suspension offerings. There have been other bakkies that have had coilsprung rear ends as an option alongside a leaf-sprung version, including the Nissan Patrol Y61 in Australia. Locally, the Land Rover 110 and 130 Defender were only ever offered with rear coil springs, and both these vehicles could certainly carry a heavy load. What is also certain is that coil-sprung bakkies and SUVs have better ride comfort than their leaf-sprung counterparts, especially in the rear. In next month’s issue I will delve into the technical aspects of coil versus leaf springs on the rear of bakkies, and highlight the differences in load carrying and ride comfort between these two types of suspension.
There is certainly a perception that coil springs cannot carry as much load as leaf springs.”