Unashamedl­y ma­cho, the Nis­san Navara boasts a host of gad­getry as well as pro­vid­ing all of the space and con­ve­nience of a tra­di­tional pickup, says Neil Lyn­don

Scottish Field - - CONTENTS -

The Nis­san Navara dou­ble-cab pickup is unashamedl­y ma­cho

“To be frank, you don’t meet many girls who thrill to the al­lure of the pickup

Pick­ing a dou­ble-cab pickup used to be as sim­ple as choos­ing be­tween a Mars Bar or a Milky Way. Now the ex­er­cise has be­come so com­plex, you could spend a month swith­er­ing.

For decades, the choice was largely be­tween one Ja­panese-built work­horse of the world, Toy­ota’s Hilux, and an­other, Mit­subishi’s L200. Both were much the same. Hardier and more durable than the stoutest brick out­house, they were purely functional 4x4 vehicles which were pur­chased solely for work – on the farm, in the for­est or on the build­ing site. No­body ever cared about the looks or the colour of a pickup and most own­ers left it to the rain to wash them clean. They were an at­trac­tive busi­ness propo­si­tion be­cause they were cheap and they al­lowed pur­chasers to re­claim com­pany car tax and VAT.

In re­cent years, how­ever, many man­u­fac­tur­ers have tried to worm their way into the mar­ket for pick­ups – not least be­cause lots of peo­ple choose them in­stead of an SUV for lug­ging bulky kit for recre­ations like surf­ing, paraglid­ing and such. Ford got into the game early with the Ranger; then VW with the Amarok and SsangYong with the Musso; more re­cently Mercedes has come out with X-Class. In the course of this com­pe­ti­tion, pick­ups have be­come in­creas­ingly gen­tri­fied with ex­pen­sive ac­ces­sories such as al­loy wheels, leather up­hol­stery, air-conditioni­ng, top-notch au­dio sys­tems, sound-proof­ing and flash chrome rodeo bars at the back. You can even get me­tal­lic paint.

They have also been made far more com­fort­able and less of an or­deal to drive. Pick­ups used to be built

on the chas­sis of a hay-cart, with leaf springs and agri­cul­tural shock ab­sorbers; and they were as ac­cu­rate to steer as a flat-bot­tomed barge in a hur­ri­cane. Now, all the kit and ca­boo­dle of ad­vanced au­to­mo­tive tech­nol­ogy has been brought to bear on the hum­ble pickup with the result that some of them drive al­most like a car.

Th­ese char­ac­ter­is­tics are to be found most com­pletely in the Mercedes X-Class; but, for thou­sands of pounds less, you can buy largely the same box of tricks – in­clud­ing five-link rear sus­pen­sion – in Nis­san’s Navara which is built in the same Barcelona fac­tory as the Mercedes.

The un­com­pro­mis­ingly ma­cho ap­pear­ance of our test car had been ac­cen­tu­ated with a Sa­fari Snorkel ex­haust pipe stick­ing up be­side the cab and mak­ing it look as if we were go­ing to de­liver sup­plies to a war­zone when we were simply run­ning out to the vil­lage shop. I liked this show-off de­vice but the ladies in my house­hold unan­i­mously de­cried it as ridicu­lous. To be frank, you don’t meet many girls who thrill to the al­lure of the pickup.

The 2.3 litre twin-turbo en­gine in the AT32 Dou­ble Can ver­sion we bor­rowed gen­er­ates a stout sup­ply of torque or pulling power (enough to pull a 3.5 tonne tow­ing load) and can push this large and heavy lump at per­fectly re­spectable road speeds, with 0-60mph ac­cel­er­a­tion of around 10.5 sec­onds. More sur­pris­ingly, av­er­age fuel con­sump­tion is gen­uinely not far off the 40+ mpg the man­u­fac­tur­ers claim. Off-road abil­ity – with hill de­scent and hill start as­sist as stan­dard – can be matched only by Land Rover prod­ucts.

Our test car came with a flab­ber­gast­ing list of equip­ment that cov­ered an A4 sheet of pa­per in small, close-set type. I have driven pick­ups in the past that were fit­ted with heated seats and leather up­hol­stery but never one with a re­vers­ing cam­era which projects its im­agery in colour in the rear view mir­ror and all-round mon­i­tors that give a bird’s eye 360° view of the ve­hi­cle.

Cruise con­trol has been a stan­dard fit­ting in pick­ups for decades but this was the first I have found with a high res­o­lu­tion 7” touch­screen for the sat­nav and en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem. But then this was also the first pickup I have ex­pe­ri­enced which, at £45,225, I couldn’t eas­ily af­ford to buy. What hap­pened to the work­horse of the world?

Car or submarine: the Nis­san Navara with its sa­fari snorkel ex­haust.

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