Three cabs on of­fer in Navara range

Southern Telegraph - - WHEELS - Alis­tair Kennedy

The big news in the Aus­tralian new car scene in re­cent years has been the rapid growth of SUV sales which led to them over­tak­ing con­ven­tional pas­sen­ger cars for the first time in 2017.

Only slightly less spectacular has been the jump in sales of pick­ups/ util­i­ties, with the Toy­ota HiLux and Ford Ranger oc­cu­py­ing the top two spots in over­all ve­hi­cle sales last year and cer­tain to do so again this year.

While Nis­san Navara sales lag a fair way be­hind HiLux and Ranger, it still ac­counts for al­most 30 per cent of the com­pany’s to­tal sales and as such is of vi­tal im­por­tance.

Sales of the cur­rent Navara, which ar­rived here in 2015, would have been much bet­ter but for some is­sues with its ride and han­dling caused mainly by the use of car- like rear coil springs rather than the truck- like leaf springs favoured by most brands.

En­ter Nis­san’s Aus­tralian en­gi­neer­ing team who came up with a new dual- pitch rear spring sys­tem in­cor­po­rat­ing an in­te­grated lower and higher spring rate. The re­sult is a ve­hi­cle with a no­tice­able im­prove­ment in over­all driv­ing dy­nam­ics — a more com­fort­able un­loaded ride and a more sup­port­ive one with a load in the tray.

The Navara comes with three cab op­tions: Sin­gle Cab, King Cab ( with two fold- down rear seats) and Dual Cab.

Bod­ies are cab- chas­sis and pickup. Two en­gines are avail­able, both in­ter­cooled turbo- diesels with a 2.3- litre ca­pac­ity. One is a sin­gle turbo with max out­puts of 120kW and 403Nm, the other a twin- turbo with 140kW and 450Nm.

Peak torque from both en­gines runs from 1500 to 2500 rpm.

Trans­mis­sion op­tions are sixspeed man­ual or seven- speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

Touch­screens are smaller than is the norm nowa­days, 5- inch in the lower spec mod­els and 7- inch in the ST and ST- X to cater for satel­lite nav­i­ga­tion. Hav­ing said that, both are easy to nav­i­gate and quick to re­spond. We’ve pre­vi­ously had Blue­tooth pair­ing is­sues with Nis­san and again it took some time to ini­tially con­nect up but had no sub­se­quent prob­lem. Nei­ther Ap­ple CarPlay nor An­droid Auto are avail­able.

Stan­dard safety fea­tures through­out the Navara range in­clude seven airbags; sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol; ABS brakes with elec­tronic brake­force dis­tri­bu­tion and brake as­sist; day­time run­ning lights; LED high- mounted stop light; au­to­matic head­lights; and rear- seat IsoFix child seat mount­ing points.

The Navara RX pick- up has a re­vers­ing cam­era dis­played in the rear vi­sion mir­ror which also has an au­to­matic dim­ming fea­ture. Other vari­ants have the cam­era dis­play in the in­fo­tain­ment screen.

The top- spec ST- X also gets hill start as­sist and hill de­scent con­trol; rear park­ing sen­sors; and a 360- de­gree Around View Mon­i­tor. Au­ton­o­mous Emer­gency Brak­ing is a no­table omis­sion.

Our test ve­hi­cle was the range­top­ping ST- X au­to­matic and we found a much bet­ter bal­ance be­tween laden/ un­laden per­for­mance. De­spite the tauter rear sus­pen­sion, it still cruises com­fort­ably to the ex­tent that it’s easy to for­get that you’re driv­ing a light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle rather than an SUV.

There’s lit­tle road noise in­tru­sion and the cabin has a re­fined feel. Over­all there’s a more re­as­sur­ing feel to the Navara’s han­dling and cor­ner­ing.

We were able to co- or­di­nate the tim­ing of our Navara road test with some over­due spring­time gar­den ren­o­va­tions, ad­ding some bal­last to the tray as we trans­ported a cou­ple of dozen bags of top­soil and 10m of buf­falo turf.

The tray is marginally higher than be­fore, which made load­ing a tad more dif­fi­cult.

We didn’t need to use the $ 1000 tow- bar kit fit­ted to the car which al­lows for up to 3500kg to be pulled with a braked trailer.

Steer­ing has also been im­proved and is now faster, heav­ier and more di­rect than be­fore. In ad­di­tion, the steer­ing ra­tio has been re­duced for im­proved ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity.

We’ve de­tailed a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant changes to the Navara but one thing that has re­mained un­touched is the twin- turbo en­gine which is right up with the best in its class. In­deed it was the one cho­sen by Mer­cedes- Benz for its re­cently re­leased X- Class.

Fuel con­sump­tion of 6.5 litres per 100km on the com­bined ur­ban / high­way cy­cle is listed for the Navara ST- X. We av­er­aged 7.7L/ 100km dur­ing our week- long test.

Im­prove­ments to the Nis­san Navara Se­ries 3 have now lifted it to the ex­tent that it can be seen as a gen­uine com­peti­tor against its bigselling ri­vals. It can eas­ily dou­ble as fam­ily trans­porter and week­end work­horse.

As with most pick- ups, the model range is large and di­verse so make sure to do some home­work and set aside plenty of time when you get to the deal­er­ship. Stan­dard war­ranty re­mains at three years and 100,000km.

The Nis­san Navara of­fers af­ford­able trans­port for both fam­ily and work.

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