If we’re honest, the Nissan Navara once was a serious contender in the South African bakkie wars. It then gradually lost its voice amid the never-ending marketing exercise of being the best-selling pick-up in SA.
And now, Nissan has infused it with a brand-new spring in its step and besides its excellent value proposition, the Navara has always embodied the true values of what this segment of vehicle was intended to be. This, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t be a looker. The Navara Pro 4X is one of the most handsome rough-stuff products on the market today.
Then there’s the idea around bakkies that, well, they aren’t used for their intended purpose: We can say with confidence that while it is quite the looker, it’s also massively capable, not just on- and off-road, but also at being a bakkie. Then there’s the overall comfort factor – an area that can be hit and miss in this segment and the Navara is, quite simply, a hit.
Saddling inside, it is evident that Nissan has gone to great lengths to make the interior of the new Navara feel more like a passenger car, thanks to superb levels of build quality as well as shiny trim finishes – the glossy touchpoints aren’t exactly my favourite feature, though. As mentioned, the interior is well up to standards and that’s also true of the hard-wearing plastic material on the dash and door panels. The fact that it’s squeak-free is a bonus.
The new Nissan Navara comes with premium seats, a new multi-function steering wheel and a partial 7” digital instrument cluster. The interior space is generous with enough storage pockets for small items and what remains a favourite is the power sliding rear window that most drivers will come to appreciate.
There is an 8” touchscreen display that feels a bit outdated and can prove difficult to operate during the bright daytime hours. Most importantly, it works and it works with so much aplomb, from using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, Navigation as well as Bluetooth connectivity. The driver’s seat offers numerous adjustment settings and is enhanced by lumbar support adjustment, there’s an automatic air conditioning system with dual-zone climate control, and a steering wheel that offers rake and height adjustments.
If we’re talking bakkie numbers, the Navara’s 2.5-litre turbodiesel powerplant with 140 kW and 450 Nm of torque will not win any performance accolades but take my word for it, it’s more than enough to go about any business conferred upon it.
The Navara’s on-road manners remain compliant even at highway cruising speeds, thanks to the five-link coil spring set up at the rear. This unfortunately doesn’t mean the load bin loses its jittery character when unladed. Gear shifting comes courtesy of a 7-speed automatic gearbox that sends power to both axles plus an electronic rear differential-lock making the Navara an impressive bakkie for a stint off the beaten track.
With lovely peak torque available from low revs, the Navara’s engine is very refined and that works for the bakkie as an everyday all-rounder. Another irk that seemingly affects other competitors in this segment is the short-lived urgency under in-gear acceleration and, well, the Navara has no shortage of that urgency.
We can all agree that cars have become increasingly expensive and the R773,900 price tag that the Navara in its Pro 4X guise carries is also not exactly ‘cheap’. But I recon the combination of the truck’s looks and above-average (for a bakkie) levels of comfort will surely make the sticker price a considerably less bitter pill to swallow. On the efficiency side, the Navara has proven to be frugal during the entire evaluating romp returning 8.7l/100 km. It also comes with a six-year/90,000 km Service Plan and six-year/150,000 Warranty.
The Nissan Navara Pro 4X combines a tougher look, sensible load area, frugal powertrain plus a great cabin to make it a solid bakkie offering. Although not class-leading, the well-mannered pick-up truck offers more facets to make it deserving of a proper recommendation.