Of city streets and (light) gravel roads

Driven - - Contents - Re­port by MABUYANE KEKANA | Im­ages © NIS­SAN SOUTH AFRICA

With many of us hav­ing grown up with bakkies that reg­u­larly formed part of our ev­ery­day lives, the af­fec­tion that South Africans have for them is not mis­placed. These work­horses are not only trusted all-rounders, but they also serve an im­por­tant pur­pose in the agri­cul­tural in­dus­try and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. And when the dust set­tles at the end of a long day, they re­turn home to be the trusty fam­ily ve­hi­cle for many, or even a per­for­mance ma­chine for some (see the ROUSH Ranger on page 48 of this mag­a­zine). Af­ter years of si­lence on the bakkie-front, Nis­san fi­nally launched its Navara on lo­cal soil in 2017, and now, a lit­tle over a year later, Nis­san South Africa has in­tro­duced its 4x2 model to sup­ple­ment its grow­ing model port­fo­lio.

Why the 4x2? Well, for starters, not ev­ery­one might have an in­cli­na­tion for bundu-bash­ing, and even with two driven wheels, it can still tow a car­a­van with rel­a­tive ease and swal­low a load of busi­ness tools or kids’ sport­ing goods.


I had the op­por­tu­nity to drive the Navara 4x2 dou­ble cab over a re­spectable dis­tance to the Wel­gevon­den Game Re­serve in the Water­berg re­gion of Limpopo. Hav­ing ex­pe­ri­enced the 4x4 model in the past, and un­der­stand­ing its strengths and short­com­ings; I knew the 4x2 would likely not be too dif­fer­ent at its core.

While it might be a fan­tas­ti­cally good ve­hi­cle on some fronts, while lack­ing tal­ents in oth­ers, I had to sit up and take no­tice, and pos­si­bly even erase any pre-con­ceived ideas I might have had.

The near 250-kilo­me­tre drive took us on some high­ways, bumpy B-roads and even sec­tions of gravel, and in my opin­ion, the Navara 4x2 achieves what it set out to be. It feels en­tirely at home on the tar­mac, and while you’d be cor­rect in think­ing it lacks some sta­bil­ity over gravel sec­tions, it did not feel all that out of place. On the black­top, the two-wheel-drive Navara feels light and nim­ble, al­most car-like with none of the

typ­i­cal heavy-handed han­dling as­so­ci­ated with some off-road ve­hi­cles.

Over the du­ra­tion of the route, I drove both the six-speed man­ual and the sev­en­speed au­to­matic de­riv­a­tive, and while both gear­boxes do what they are sup­posed to, it is the man­ual that out­shines the auto on the per­for­mance front. Gearshifts in the man­ual are smooth, light and pre­cise, al­though, given my per­sonal pref­er­ence, I’d ul­ti­mately pick the auto. The gear­box is mated to a 2.3-litre tur­bod­iesel pow­er­plant that pro­duces 140 kW and 450 Nm.

In a seg­ment that is get­ting tougher and more com­pet­i­tive by the day, the Navara brings an ar­se­nal of mod­ern fea­tures. Step­ping in­side, you are greeted by a rel­a­tively mod­ern in­fo­tain­ment screen that fea­tures all the en­ter­tain­ment bells and whis­tles you could need. Nav­i­ga­tion, USB con­nec­tiv­ity and Blue­tooth func­tion­al­ity come stan­dard across the range.


Since this is such a com­pet­i­tive seg­ment in the South African mar­ket, man­u­fac­tur­ers have dou­bled down on their ef­forts to get an ever-de­mand­ing cus­tomer base into their ve­hi­cles by of­fer­ing ex­cel­lent value for money. As such, the Nis­san Navara is fac­ing ex­tremely stiff com­pe­ti­tion in the form of the Toy­ota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu KB and Mit­subishi Tri­ton that con­tin­ues to present cus­tomers not only with va­ri­ety, but also in­creas­ingly good value.


While Nis­san’s 80 years of car-build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence shines through in the Navara, the moniker might have sim­mered a bit in-be­tween gen­er­a­tions, re­sult­ing in many buy­ers opt­ing for one of the com­pet­ing

bakkies. So, would I per­son­ally buy the new 4x2 Navara? In a heart­beat, pri­mar­ily thanks to the long list of life­style ben­e­fits, and over­all good value it of­fers.

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