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Let me begin by inserting a disclaimer * l, Daniel Calbacho, car lover, have little passion or depth of knowledge about leisure vehicles, also known as bakkies. * 

 

With that statement out of the way, I'd like to begin my assessment of Nissan's long-awaited Navara. First off - It's the winner of the 2016 International Pick-up Award. It also shares its chassis with its affiliated motoring partners, Mercedes-Benz and Renault. Both are venturing into the pickup market for the first time, using the success and knowledge from Nissan. Their pickups are named the X-Class and Alaskan respectively. 

 

Logic would suggest that pick-ups are trending. Locally, the pick-up, more appropriately termed the 'Bakkie', has captured the hearts and wallets of us locals for many years. They are the workhorse and business-buddy to many companies.

 

The new Nissan Navara promises to be something special. It's a lot lighter than its predecessor; it features a smaller, yet frugal 2.3-l twin-turbocharged diesel engine and has fancy rear suspension geometry - more in line with what you'd find in a luxury SUV. It is also more luxurious - with niceties such as leather upholstery, an electrically adjustable driver’s seat as well as heated seats. The list continues. Despite its rugged appearance, the Navara’s softened by its comforting and cosseting interior. 

 

So, how do these modern engineering features translate in function? By comparison to its rivals? I’ve reviewed the Ford Ranger and driven a Hilux for a bit. So, comparatively speaking, my knowledge isn’t in the league of my passenger car experience. 

 

The new fancy suspension didn’t feel too fancy - the ride is like other utility 4X4s and less like a luxury Sports Utility Vehicle. I must say that over more challenging road surfaces I note a better assimilation than other bakkies I’ve driven.  Handling is pretty good too. I’d link its new suspension set up to this improvement. 

 

What was impressive is the Navara’s engine: despite its modest capacity of 2.3-l, its performance is both prodigious as well as frugal. It does have its downside: it’s vocal. As a result, it’s better to drive with the windows closed in an attempt to block its swoosh and clattering sounds. 

 

I reviewed the manual LE model. It’s gearbox - a 6-speed - is easy enough to drive, but I’d opt for the 7-speed Automatic. Everything is going auto these days, and our roads are busier than ever. Every other aspect of the Navara points towards effortless driving so, get the auto to close the circle of easy-going transportation. 

 

The interior is clad in an array of quality materials that adds to the luxuriousness of car. It’s hard to fault with my only gripe being its infotainment system. In isolation, it’s not bad. When compared to others, like the system in the Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux, it’s not as easy to use. 

 

Overall the Navara is a highly competent workhorse, able to carry loads of 1061kg. It feels solid and stable on the road. Aesthetically, it’s polished and sits comfortably in a parking lot amongst fancy folk. 

 

P.S remember my opening line. If you’re a bakkie lover, you’ll know more about them than me. So, take my review with a pinch of salt!

 

PLUS +

Handsome.

Solid.

Comfy interior.

Frugal.

Strong workhorse.

 

MINUS -

Choppy ride.

Average infotainment system.

 

Competition 

Toyota Hilux, Isuzu KB, Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, VW Amarok, Mitsubishi Triton and Fiat Fullback.

 

Pricing

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 SE R518 900

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 LE R567 900

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 LE auto R587 900

 

Service and warranty 

The Nissan Navara comes standard with 3-year/90 000 km service plan. 

 

My choice

Navara 2.3 D Double Cab 4X4 LE auto R587 900

www.nissan.co.za

 

 

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