Re­vised sus­pen­sion puts new springs in its step

Wheels (Australia) - - Contents - TOBY HAGON

Bloomin’ hell! It’s springs time

IT’S A case of blink and you might miss it when it comes to the lat­est up­dates to the Nis­san Navara dual-cab. From the out­side, there are no changes to the D23, the bluff dual-cab sol­dier­ing on with­out so much as a new badge.

The grunty 2.3-litre twin-turbo four-pot diesel matched to a de­cent seven-speed auto is also un­changed, which is no bad thing. A six speed-man­ual con­tin­ues to be avail­able on much of the line-up for a sav­ing of around $2500.

But any­one who crawls un­der­neath may no­tice some nifty new springs in the back-end, the first of nu­mer­ous chas­sis changes aimed at mak­ing the Navara bet­ter at do­ing things that utes do, namely tow­ing and car­ry­ing loads.

Re­mem­ber, un­til the im­mi­nent ar­rival of the Mercedes-benz X-class, the Navara is the only pick-up with coils in­stead of leaves out back. Hey, in the ute world, it’s a big deal. It was also some­thing of a flop, as the coils were un­able to deal with a de­cent load, all but guar­an­tee­ing way­ward han­dling.

Now Nis­san has be­come se­ri­ous and sent out a team of en­gi­neers to li­aise with the lo­cal prod­uct spe­cial­ists for an Aus­tralia-spe­cific tune aimed at re­turn­ing the Navara to some of its for­mer glory.

It’s worth men­tion­ing that Nis­san has built 200m of Aus­tralian-in­spired road into its Tochigi prov­ing ground in Ja­pan with the aim of en­sur­ing fu­ture mod­els are bet­ter en­gi­neered for our roads. How­ever, en­gi­neers say they will still head Down Un­der for lo­cal test­ing to en­sure the D23 Navara saga is not re­peated.

Ac­com­pa­ny­ing the new pro­gres­sive ‘dual-pitch’ rear springs is a re­vised tune for the front sus­pen­sion in­clud­ing new dampers, and tweaked steer­ing, the lat­ter down from 4.1 turns lock-to-lock to 3.4.

The steer­ing alone makes the Navara a much nicer thing to pilot on a back road, the sharper re­sponse unlikely to be mis­taken for any­thing other than a ute, but vastly more palat­able than the keep-turn­ing ap­proach that was pre­vi­ously re­quired.

Un­laden, there’s still plenty of shak­ing and jig­gling on any­thing but per­fect hot­mix – that’s par for the course in this class. But once you throw a hefty pay­load in the back, the re­vised sus­pen­sion is trans­formed. The body is much bet­ter con­trolled and there’s less chance of reach­ing the ex­tremes of travel, all of which makes the up­dated Navara a much bet­ter jig­ger for those who plan to ac­tu­ally use the tray.

As for pric­ing, the move­ment is min­i­mal; up by be­tween $200 and $500, de­pend­ing on model.

But the real pay-off is un­der­neath, where fi­nally, the D23 Navara has the chas­sis set-up it should have re­ceived in 2015.

Model Nis­san Navara En­gine 2298cc 4cyl, dohc, 24v, TTD Max power 140kw @ 3750rpm Max torque 450Nm @ 1500rpm Trans­mis­sion 7-speed au­to­matic Weight 1969kg 0-100km/h 10.8sec (es­ti­mated) Econ­omy 11.7L/100km Price $54,490 On sale Now

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