Tag: Nissan

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’s new Qashqai has big shoes to fill!

It is hard to believe that the most popular segment in South Africa’s automotive market (and many other countries for that matter) is only 14 years old. With abundant offerings in luxurious and affordable packages, the compact crossover SUV market is a booming industry that all brands want a piece of. However, it wouldn’t be in its existing form if it wasn’t for the pioneering first generation Nissan Qashqai, credited to have created this segment when its blueprint was originally drawn up in 2006. 

Now, Nissan has unveiled the third iteration of the original trendsetter to a global audience. The new generation is claimed to be an evolution of both of its predecessors, building on what Nissan’s customers claimed they loved most about the popular SUV. 

Its exterior is bold with a visually striking front grille tying in the ‘boomerang headlamps’ which wrap slightly around the top corners of the bonnet to create an illusion of added width. Its prominent shoulder lines conjoin the front to the rear, while the rear retains a familiar Qashqai design language. It is also now available in 20” alloy wheels while the bodywork can be finished-off in a selection of two tone colour combinations. 

The interior appears to be a massive improvement over its predecessor, through the simplification of tools and a particular emphasis placed on the drivers ease of use. The clean, minimal interior has focused on presenting a driver with the least distraction during driving as possible. Filled with other tech, the Qashqai features a modifiable 10.8” adaptive display (HUD), 12” configurable drivers screen and 9” infotainment display in the center console. In car wifi, multi-USB charging and wireless charging are other available options.

One of the key features Nissan has incorporated into the new Qashqai is spaciousness, and while the boot will have a volumetric capacity of 504 liters, they claim that there is more head, knee and shoulder space available for occupants. This may be due to the fact that all overall dimensions of this car have increased, with an extended wheelbase of 20mm and a 25mm height raise. 

Nissans newly developed e-Power powertrain system will feature in the Qashqai – which incorporates constant electric motor drive for instantaneous acceleration while being connected to an evolved 1.3 liter turbo-petrol motor offering 103kW and 240Nm mated to a 6-speed manual transmission. There is also another option with increased power ratings at 116kW and 260Nm which is coupled to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox.

While the order books for the new Qashqai have opened across Europe, South Africa can anticipate the arrival of the trailblazing SUV towards the final quarter of 2021, with the local specification and pricing to follow in due course. With 3 million car sales since its inception in Europe alone, it is likely the new Qashqai will follow suit!

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 Qashqai Driven Review in South Africa

We test drive the Nissan Qashqai

Once upon a time, a manufacturer decided to make a 4×4 that wasn’t actually a 4×4 and the rest became history. Few people could have predicted the success of the crossover when the Nissan Qashqai supposedly invented the segment in 2006. Well over a million Qashqai’s and a bajillion other crossovers later, the second generation Nissan Qashqai takes over from where the benchmark in its segment left off, building on its many strengths.

When replacing the original Qashqai, Nissan certainly had their work cut out for them but thanks to much improved build quality and styling, the Qashqai now gives off a much more premium feel than its predecessor. Good quality materials and very few rattles make the cabin a very nice place to be and while you won’t be writing abstract poems professing the innate beauty of its swooping plastic features or nice-to-push buttons, everything works just as it should, all while giving a pleasing tactile feeling.

Power comes from an array of motors, ranging from 1.2-litre turbo-petrols to 1.6-litre turbo-petrols and diesels. The model we had on test was the mid-range 1.5dCi Acenta Manual with 81 kW and 260 N.m although the laggy torque delivery and gear lever’s long throws came nowhere close to mirroring the vehicle’s sporty and dynamic looks. Frightfully economical, though, we averaged around 5.0 l/100 km over the period of a week which in the real world isn’t too far off the manufacturer’s claim of 4.2 l/100km.

Spec wise, the Acenta model we had comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a trip computer, xenon headlights, 6 airbags, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-lights and windscreen wipers and the usual electronic aids.

A 6 year/150 000km warranty comes standard across the range, as does a 3 year/90 000km service plan.

Nissan Qashqai pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R354 900 for the 1.2T Acenta and rises to R454 900 for the top-spec 1.6dCi Acenta Auto. The model we tested is priced at R382 900 and is definitely the sweet spot in the range.

While the second-generation Nissan Qashqai has been on sale in South Africa for roughly 3 years now, it is still a very relevant product, more than capable of competing with some of its newer competitors. Despite the fact that its sporty looks are a bit deceiving, the Qashqai as a whole is a good quality product that reminds us of why the world fell in love with the original in the first place.

Nissan, good job.

 

Who said a half tonner can’t be cool?: Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven

 Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven Review in South Africa

 

Never in a million years would’ve I have thought a half tonne bakkie would be something that appeals to me. Honestly these kind of cars are usually bought out of need, not want. Perhaps you’ve started a small business and you need something that’s going to keep going and going. Or you’re the kind of guy that loves to spend time outdoors? Either way a half tonner can solve all your problems.

For me to fully understand the appeal of this car, I had to put myself in the shoes of someone who needed one. The ICE version of the NP 200 is what we were given and honestly, at first I thought it looked corny. It was only after five minutes of driving the thing did I appreciate not being behind the wheel of a plain white one, as there are some many on the road.

 

How Does It Drive?

The ICE edition comes with some nice features such as a front nudge bar to end move taxis out your way. It then has a sporty looking set of wheel, leather seats and blue paint to show the world how “cool” you are. It also comes in silver paint if the blue is too out there for you. The best thing about driving such a bakkie is that the size of it makes it very “get up and go”. It’s really a car that you don’t think too hard about driving because it’s so small. The ICE edition we drove was the 1.5 litre DCI engine which is like a little Jack Russell, it nips at the heels of other drivers in traffic. With only 62kW/128Nm, the lightweight body of the car makes it feel like more. It also seems to run on magic as I battled to get the fuel gauge to move, despite running around aimlessly trying fill the load bin. The ICE is also available with a 1.6 litre petrol engine which should be quite good, but won’t have the great torque spike that the diesel has.

 

In my attempt at trying to be a half tonne bakkie owner, I found myself with the urge to move stuff. I became a pest to my friends, offering to move a desk, dispose of the trash etc etc, to see how much stuff I can fit in. I do occasionally cycle so even my worn out ride bike got a chance to see how effective the NP200 ICE. The rubberised bin is a nice standard feature from Nissan as a scratched up load bin is the equivalent to a grandmothers cracked heels, not nice to look at and difficult to fix

Final Thoughts

Overall I can say I was quite pleased with this little bakkie. It’s the bakkie you’ll want if during the week you run a small business and in the weekend you need to live with the car. The NP200 has a  decent radio and air-conditioning system and a punchy little engine. It’s still very much a no frills car even though it offers all the frills in the range.

For those business orientated guys, you’ll be happy to know that you have a 6 year/150 000km warranty on the car, so you can put this little workhorse to work. I for one can see why some families have one of these half tonners in their garage. From a practicality perspective, it’s always handy having something small with loading capacity at your disposal. The NP200’s father, the iconic Nissan 1400 would be proud to see it’s kid following in daddies footsteps. It’s a great little thing indeed.  

 

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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).

 

NISSAN GT-R 2017

Way back in 2007 a car came along which changed everything. Performance wise, this vehicle destroyed almost anything that was put against it, its acceleration was blistering and it’s on track performance was mind blowing. This vehicle was probably one of the most technically advanced cars of that era, many called it “the supercar slayer”. Yes, I’m talking about the Nissan GT-R R35. Recently at the SA Festival of Motoring, the new 2017 Edition was released with some slight adjustments and Refinements.

 

Performance

In the performance area, the hand built 3.8L V6 twin turbo has a power increase from 397 KW to 408 KW and a small torque increase of 4nm, bringing the total to 632 NM. This power increase comes from increased turbo boost and individual timing control on each cylinder, Nissan say these upgrades will also provide more performance in the mid-high rev range.

Along with the performance upgrades, the gearbox and gearshifts have also been improved.  These two factors added with Nissan’s state of the art launch control system gives a 0–100kph time of under 3 seconds, that’s Porsche Turbo S territory. Nissan has also added a new titanium exhaust system which unfortunately is “enhanced” by Nissan’s Active Sound Enhancement System, fake sound does not do it for me.

Handling upgrades have also taken place with a more rigid suspension structure and chassis to further improve track performance, Nissan also claims they have improved the everyday drive and comfort of this 2017 model.

 

Interior

Nissan has also worked on the interior with their aim to make it more  “upmarket” and simplified. The upmarket feel has been introduced with Nappa leather and “real” carbon fibre,  sound dampening and an acoustic glass windshield has also been installed to keep unwanted exterior noises out. I do wonder though if the acoustic glass will improve my wife’s in car singing voice ? after all, it is acoustic.

In their aim to simplify, Nissan has reduced the number of buttons in the cabin from 27 to 11 with most of the functions moving to an 8” touchscreen display. As long as the audio and A/C controls are not digitally controlled then I’m happy, that really gets on my wick.

 

Pricing

The 2017 GT-R will be available from September with the first batch already sold out. The Premium Edition comes in at a price of R1 950 000 and the Black Edition at R2 050 000. The supercar slayer is edging towards supercar prices!

 

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