Nissan Navara NP300 Road Test

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Around since 1997 Nissan’s Navara has generated the ability to haul around as many awards as it does cargo. The one obvious aspect that has changed even over just three variations is the Navara’s dimensions, from a relatively standard Japanese 4x4 pickup the Navara significantly gained in physical size in many ways due to its American equivalents the Tundra and the Frontier. Both boasting far larger engines than their European siblings, whilst Nissan resisted the urge to fit the American sized power plants, both the second and now third generation units exhibit a more SUV take on what remains a commercial 4x4.


The Navara’s other overriding influence is of course its close relationship with the Renault Alaskan, Nissan and Renault now conjoining many of their models, the Alaskan in particular as much a recreational vehicle as it is a working off-roader. The end result is the new Navara has in compared to its competition developed a broader appeal across two differing markets that share a variety of things in common. For the lifestylers it’s as much about looks and perceived way of life as it is durability and out and out ability for those buying a Navara as a working vehicle that can double up as family transport.


Unless you opt for the King-Cab that is available with a pickup back or chassis cab that allows the buyer to attach a custom body style of their choice, the new double-cab NP300 combines both SUV and utility personas in one vehicle. Sat high on a box section ladder frame chassis with double wishbone suspension on the front, rigid leaf or 5-link and coils on the rear in the case of the double-cab.


The now more sculpted body is noticeably elevated, a large chromed grille and tapering lighting flow rearwards past the swept over wings and clamshell-style bonnet, a tapering bulge transferring into the front doors. The high waist line and four almost square doors provide easy access to the cabin whilst the deep, box cargo bed easily accommodates the one tonne payload. At 1,578mm long, 1,560mm wide apart from between the wheel arches and a depth of 474mm or an overall approximate of 830mm with the integrated canopy fitted. Similarly, the elevated body means a tailgate lift height of 474mm which is about average for this type of vehicle, the Navara’s cargo capabilities expanded with a further 3,500kg towing capacity and 56kg roof load.


Riding on in the case of the N-Connecta as tested 18” alloys shod with 255/60 Continental rubber, the Navara has a ground clearance of 223mm, a standard 60mm wading depth plus approach and departure angles of 30.4 and 25.6 degrees with 870mm and 1,310mm front and rear overhangs. One word of note, if you’re likely to be venturing off-road, these predominantly road orientated tyres will need upgrading to a more aggressive tread pattern, slick surfaces defeating them remarkable quickly.


Inside the cabin the new Navara has taken on a more car like personality and whilst leather is an option the dark flecked fabric trim is considerably warmer and more welcoming. Textured but hard surfaces line most areas whilst black piano inserts highlight the central 7” screen whilst the main instrumentation is clear and easy to read. And whilst rear legroom isn’t as commodious as some others five passengers can travel in comfort.


Under the bonnet the 4-cylinder 2,298cc turbo diesel delivers 190hp along with 450Nm of usable torque mated to a 7-speed automatic transmission or as seen here a 6-speed manual gearbox. Fed from an 80 litre fuel tank, buyers need to be made aware of what appear to be two fuel flaps. The one on the right is for Adblue, the one on the left the diesel filler. Confusion is eliminated by the fact the dash mounted fuel flap release only opens the diesel’s flap. Initial confusion aside, the new spec Navara returns a reasonably respectable 30.1mpg average which equates to around 450 miles under mixed driving conditions.


Behind the wheel the new NP300 Navara does feel big, emphasizing the design’s SUV-Utility combination. Similarly, the Navara is laid back to drive, each gear change best unhurried. The view is commanding the Nissan’s overall bulk easily manageable even in tighter spaces. On the road with the integrated canopy fitted, whilst the lack of a load does allow for the inherent rear end bounce, it’s nowhere near as pronounced, the more advanced rear suspension adding considerably to rear end stability.


When venturing off road, the transfer system is simplicity itself. Controlled from a rotary switch to the rear of the gearlever, one click changes the system from rear or 2WD to 4x4 high the next position 4x4 low ratio. Once again the weight and tyres come into play, the Continentals as fitted more than capable of traversing rutted, muddy tracks but the moment the average field was encountered the tyres more or less surrendered traction. With a more suitable off road pattern fitted the Navara is more than likely to be a far more capable machine. More than adequate on normal road surfaces where the Navara and others of its ilk will more than likely spend the majority of their time, anything other than tarmac and they hobble the Nissan.


The power assisted steering is noticeably well weighted, the ABS brakes even and well distributed. Traction and stability control work well, even on damp surfaces whilst the overall gearing is sensibly ratioed. If a point had to be made and once again its tyre related, low ratio is to be preferred when crossing field or rutted field surfaces, the high ratio whilst well suited to road use is at time a little to long for off-road purposes.


Nissan’s Navara has always been an extremely capable commercial 4x4, the new MP300 N-Connecta no different. Its undemanding to drive, will do everything you could ask of it whilst, haul decent amounts of cargo along with a full compliment of happy passengers all the while returning an acceptable miles per gallon. And once you’ve become accustomed to the Navara’s sensation of physical size, you’ll then be able to capitalise on the design’s recreational and utility combination.


As tested the NP300 N-Connecta will cost you £27,795 plus vat, various other specification and cab configurations considerably less. The new Navara also comes with Nissan’s comprehensive 5-year, 100,000 mile warranty along with 24,000 miles or 18 months service intervals. All in all, with maybe the odd concern, Nissan’s new NP300 is more than worthy of continuing the Navara name, the design now adding an alternative meaning to the term crossover.        


                

By; Mark Stone





Nissan Navara NP300 Road Test