MIC’S MEMOS

Can the new Navara’s fancy sus­pen­sion still take a big load?

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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.”

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