Tag: Navara

Built in Africa for Africa, the Nissan Navara PRO-2X

The Nissan Navara might not produce the same reverence in the bakkie game as its Toyota and Ford counterparts do, but the new locally-produced facelift may mount a more formidable opposition in the premium double cab segment. We spent a few days with the PRO-2X derivative and put it through its paces both on and off the beaten path.

Depending on how you look at it, the Mercedes-Benz X-Class may not have been the most successful product proposition from the famed German automaker. It was simply priced too far out of the reach of the typical bakkie buyer yet was still too rudimentary a vehicle for the average Benz aficionado, despite all the luxury bits added on. It doesn’t change the fact that they ventured out into an unknown market in the attempt to fill a niche. If you didn’t already know, now would be a good time to inform you that the X-Class was a badge-engineered version of the Navara (also known as the Frontier on the other side of the Atlantic).

The platform and chassis were essentially the same as its Japanese counterpart with a good aesthetic overhaul to make it seamlessly blend alongside the rest of the 3-pointed star range. That being said, Mercedes-Benz has done their utmost to elevate their brand even higher than it has been before, upholding a reputation which is synonymous with premium build quality and a plush driving experience. What I am trying to get at is that if the Navara platform was good enough to pioneer Mercedes’ first bakkie, the actual Navara is in with a shout to give the popular bakkies a run for their money.

If that isn’t enough reason to consider this as an equal if not superior to the opposition, the fact that it is now locally produced might be. As of mid-June the first batch of the Japanese designed off-roader rolled off the production floor at the Nissan manufacturing plant in Rosslyn.

Tuned for local conditions and suited to the needs of local bakkie buyers, an additional bonus of this agreement of built in Africa for Africans means that the overall pricing of the range is some of the most competitive in the country, undercutting the likes of Ford, Toyota, Isuzu and GWM for certain derivatives.

The Navara range starts from R311 000 for the base petrol powered single cab 2.5DE XE 4X2 while the range topping PRO-4X 4X4 AT double cab will set you back R740 000 and all include a 6-year/150 000km warranty with a built in service plan for 6-years or up to 90 000km.

While the range is comprehensive with workhorse single cabs and crew cabs, we spent time driving the premium derivatives including the suitably styled 2.5D PRO-2X for a few days on test as well as the 2.5D LE 4×4 on launch too. While our skill and lack of off-road adventuring meant that neither of the bakkies ventured onto hardcore trails, we still managed to put them to good use on dirt roads and some slightly technical off road surfaces.

Both managed with ease which leads me to believe that not all bakkies need to be four wheel drive to be a viable and capable option for most consumers. Sure, that extra capability may be beneficial in exclusive situations but as a whole the limited rear wheel drive performance did not hinder us. For context, the PRO-2X costs R686 000 while the PRO-4X which is identical save from a four wheel drive system costs significantly more at R740 000. 

The PRO-2X comes equipped with components that enable it to appeal to adventure orientated individuals that need both utility and comfort in a single offering which it does very well. It includes mounted rails and anchor hooks in the loadbin which can be used for hauling a whole lot of things around or to neatly secure a mountain bike (or something a with a bit more power) for a weekend morning outing.

Either way, it would be wise to spec a rubberized bin so the cool looking Warrior Grey paintwork does not get scuffed. While SUV’s and crossovers so often try to appeal to the adventure within ourselves, this bakkie does… and it does it in a stylish manner too.

The overall visual appeal of the facelifted bakkie has been improved with a more menacing, angular front end, not that its predecessor was an ugly duckling by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, Nissan bakkies have always stayed true to this mantra from as early as the Hardbody, so the updated Navara is a natural evolution of the existing aesthetic. Most importantly it looks like a bakkie should; formidable, wide and rugged which is compliments of its updated plastic trim and new lights.

The chunky aesthetic comes at the cost of brick-shaped aerodynamics which naturally limit any wallet-pleasing fuel economy. After a full week of urban dominated driving we returned 10.5l/100km from the updated 2.5-litre turbo diesel motor. An average of 8.1l/100 km is optimistically claimed by Nissan in mixed scenarios. The larger engine is a vast improvement over the old pre-facelift 2.3 litre power plant, with more torque and power than before suiting the model far better. Both the LE and PRO models incorporate this motor which produces a maximum of 140kW and a 450Nm. 

The low end still produces some turbo lag but the 7-speed automatic gearbox mitigates most of this through a smooth delivery of torque. The transmission competes with the suspension bits and chassis setup as the most refined mechanical component of the vehicle, but the intuitive gear selection and faultless operation during our test made the drive ever so smooth.

Speaking of chassis and suspension, the ride is supremely comfortable on all road surfaces in comparison to the competition. The naturally high centre of gravity (particularly on PRO models’ raised suspension) still makes it prone to the sway of Spring-time highway winds, despite its hefty weight. Road vibrations and wind noise have been diminished almost completely despite its hefty weight of over 2 tons. 

Jumping into the cabin, the look and feel of the materials and the design of the components still seem less luxurious and out of date. This is ever prevalent when interacting with the operating system on the 8″ touch screen display. While it has a more utilitarian theme about it, the overall impression is a let down in the context of a what has shaped up to be a great bakkie.

But that’s the thing, it is after all just a bakkie. It doesn’t really need to be incredible luxurious and as refined as an SUV for example – that is secondary to its purpose. Remember the X-Class from the beginning of the article? The antiquated OS is equipped with cable connected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Comfortable leather seats and plenty of room outweight the bland looking dash, which with its few recesses and details and would be easy to clean after a muddy weekend away.

While the eternal Ranger vs Hilux rivalry forges on, we forget that Nissan gave us the trustworthy Champ which made its way into the homes and hearts of many South Africans. Bakkies are an integral part of the Japanese brands heritage in South Africa and the updated Navara is a confident step in the right direction once again. With the highly competitive market constantly growing with options from manufacturers all over the world, my preference in owning less common vehicles would yield the Navara PRO-2X as my first choice. The price jump for the PRO-4X is just uneconomical for the things that I would use it for.

Nissan Navara Driven Review in South Africa

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara Driven Review

The South African double cab bakkie market is easily on of the most tightly contested vehicle segments in SA, with South Africans being one of the largest fans of the utilitarian aspects of being able to lug around nearing one tonne of payload and three times that via a tow hitch.  This has allowed the top contenders, in the form of the Ford Ranger and Toyota’s iconic Hilux to constantly shift in the realm of 3 000 units each month, both over 3 times that of the third and fourth placed Nissan Hardbody and Isuzu KB.

This is overall contrasted with tough economic times, that have resulted in the underlying fact that the utilitarian aspects come with the typical bakkie bouncy ride, noisy diesel motors and cramped rear seats that are not ideal traits for the every day, especially since the second daily small car is fast becoming a dream. The packages are improving in line with this shift to more of an everyday usage focused vehicle, but still hindered by the use of load-friendly leaf spring set up, in all but one – enter the new Nissan Navara. Understanding this fluid use of the vehicle that mainly encompasses traffic jams rather than the extreme off-road expedition, Nissan engineers have ditched the traditional bakkie setup for that of a more driver friendly multi-link coil over set-up.

This has set bakkie aficionado’s up in arms, with the general consensus being Nissan ruined the Navara. Admittedly after getting very well acquainted with the bakkie, I must share, that they have indeed ruined the Navara, ruined the choppy ride, ruined the rough engine and ruined the ‘old school’ feel of the bakkie, all gone and replaced with a modern cabin, and a versatile package. The Navara is incredibly good at the everyday ‘leisurely’ activity that is traffic, driving to and from work and even gravel roads. The ride is easily the best in class, better than even the exceedingly German VW Amarok.  

CABIN

The interior of the Navara is incredibly well-appointed with standard features on SE models including a touch screen Sat Nav system with CD player, AM/FM Radio, AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity with steering mounted audio controls. Top spec LE models get leather interior, electric & heated seats, keyless entry and start, reverse camera, rear PDC and LED daytime running lights.

Nissan Navara

The interior is upmarket and comfortable. It feels comparable to a premium SUV rather than a bakkie and offers very good space front and rear, the level of standard spec is really impressive and does a good job of helping you forget about the bakkie roots. It’s incredibly refined and cancels out wind noise, vibrations and harshness – easily class leading in this aspect

DRIVETRAIN

Powered by a twin-turbo 2.3-litre engine that has 140 kW and 450 N.m, it’s happiest when cruising along at freeway speeds. Overtaking power is good and the low down torque from 1 500-2 500 RPM offers incredible tractability and in town, builds speed very quickly with little effort. The only complaint is the noise when overtaking as the engine does get a little loud when pressing on, but this is a very small gripe. The claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.5 l/100km is rather optimistic with a best of 9.1 l/100km in the combined cycle being more realistic. The 7-speed Automatic is also smooth and feels like a good match to the engine, although some adjustment must be made when cruising as the gearbox will often gear down when accelerating with anything other than ¾ throttle, even when you don’t intend on such, likely more orientated to accommodate 3.5-ton towing capacity.

Nissan Navara

4X4 TOYS

The new Navara is again class leading in the approach and departure angles offering 33 degrees, on the former and  27.9 degrees the latter. Ground clearance sits at 226 mm, which is impressive but may be hampered by the standard side steps. Low range, diff-lock, and selectable 4WD are standard fair and the electrical goodies like hill ascent and descent control come with the territory.

The New Navara is an incredibly good bakkie and with a starting price for R514 900 for the Double Cab 2.3 SE, offers very good value for money for those not overly focused on the bakkie aspects of the vehicle.  The range will expand later to include other offerings but at this point, the pick of the bunch is the top spec 2.3 LE 4×4 Auto.

ALTERNATIVES

Top sellers in the form of the Ford Ranger in its 3.2TDCI D/Cab XLT 4×4 guise – R588 900 the 2.8GD-6 4×4 Raider AT Toyota Hilux – R576 400, are the most direct competitors, but the most “car like” offering and possibly the most direct comparison would be the VW Amarok D/Cab BiTdi 4Motion Highline Auto – R590 600, as it offers the most comfortable ride and most leisure orientated cabin .

 

Nissan Navara Pricing in South Africa

2.3 SE 4×2 ManualR514 900

2.3 LE 4X4 Manual  – R565 900

2.3 LE 4×4 AutoR584 900

 

Nissan Navara Launches In South Africa

We Drive The New Nissan Navara With Its 5 Link Suspension System.

Can you remember the type of person you were, or what you were doing in your life twelve years ago? In twelve years, I have left high school, dabbled in higher education, moved continents and tied the proverbial knot. I am a walking example, then, that a lot can happen in twelve years. That is the same period of time that has lapsed since the launch of the original Navara, so one could say that it was high time that they launch a new one.

Things are always on the move in the automotive world – from a brand’s perspective, being left behind can happen in the flash of an eye should the manufacturer decide to rest on their laurels or even just cease to remain relevant. This is the biggest threat to the new Nissan Navara in South Africa – have their previous customers moved on? Have consumers forgotten about the bakkie that was once considered one of the best? Making the situation worse is the fact that the South African launch on the new Navara has come nearly 2 years after it was launched to the rest if the world, so the all-new Navara certainly had a mountain to climb, so to speak.

According to Nissan, the reason for this is that South Africa has much harsher road conditions and as such, the new Navara needed to be adapted. Interesting, then, that this doesn’t seem to be a problem for every other manufacturer…

It’s fair to say then that the new Nissan Navara needs to be an excellent product in order to regain the attention of the South African market. Nissan knows this, which is why the Navara is not just newer and prettier, it also has a trick up its sleeve.

This trick is 5-link suspension system, which is a very clever trick indeed. Traditionally on bakkies, the leaf spring suspension system has always been the option manufacturers headed for. It’s an older system which consists of large steel bands which compress under load and when under this load, they also provide more brake pressure. This sort of system does decent job, but only really when the vehicle is under load.

Many can attest, however, to the rather unpleasant and bouncy nature of that conventional bakkie ride that we don’t really adore, with rearward instability being the rotten cherry on top.

Bakkies are no longer just work vehicles and have become lifestyle cars that need to tick more than just the rough and ready box. Single athletes, adventurous couples, camping families and owners of sandals all love the versatility and perceived safety as well as the spaciousness of bakkies. So it’s only right, then, that as the market for these vehicles evolves, so does the technology behind them.

The Nissan Navara is the first in its segment to feature this type of suspension system and there are many benefits, such as better handling and a more stability – we experienced this on a high speed dirt road at the Navara local launch and it felt very stable and most notable was the absence of the loose rear end.

If you’d like a little in depth detail on the 5-link suspension system, Practical Motoring explain it very well here.

Other changes to the Navara included an optional new 7-speed automatic gearbox, with the 6-speed manual being the standard option. These are both mated to a 2.3-litre 4-pot diesel, producing 140 kW/405 N.m. It’s not the most powerful bakkie on the market, but those figures are plenty, especially with the torque peaking low in the rev range at 1 500 rpm.

Overall then, the Navara is a very attractive vehicle and just as its predecessor did 12 years ago, impresses with its interior and exterior design. It’s also bigger than before, has more interior space and has a total weight reduction of 176 kg.

Having spent many hours behind the wheel of the new Navara during the launch which involved a beautiful coastal route from Cape Town to Lamberts Bay, we can confidently say that the Navara took it all in its stride. The overall dynamics, styling and feel of the car most certainly bring to mind the characteristics of an SUV.

With the pricing starting at R514 000, it is also very competitively priced within segment and I personally feel that even though there has been a very long wait for this vehicle, it has what it takes to recapture the attention of the market. This has already been proven by the fact that Nissan have sold over 300 Navaras since the launch in mid-march.

Full pricing is as follows, with the 4×2 double-cap expected to reach SA near the end of 2017.

Pricing and range

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 SE Double Cab MT – R514 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 LE Double Cab –MT – R565 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDT 4×4 LE Double Cab AT –R597 900 (incl. VAT)

 

Black leather seats with heater function optional on LE grade models for R13 000 (incl. VAT).