Car reviews - Nissan - Navara - ST Black Edition
Comfortable unladen ride quality, all-terrain tyres, low-down torque, cool styling
Room for improvement
Noisy engine when accelerating, flat seats, dated infotainment, sluggish acceleration
Nissan tricks out Navara pick-up with limited-run ST-based Black Edition
27 Sep 2018
NISSAN sure does love a limited-edition Navara. In the past two years, the company has released two different N-Sport special editions, the latest of which dropped in August last year.
While the previous N-Sport was based on the top-spec ST-X, Nissan has used the slightly more affordable ST version as a donor car for its latest limited-run model, the Black Edition.
The Black Edition adds a number of visual enhancements over the regular ST, including a nudge bar, driving lights, chunky wheelarch flares and all-terrain tyres.
With 900 units available, can the Black Edition capture the hearts of Nissan fans?
The third special edition in as many years, the Black Edition is another way for Nissan fans to stand out from the crowd.
As the name suggests, it gains a raft of black-coloured visual enhancements including 18-inch alloy wheels, sports bar, wheelarch flares, nudge bar, front grille, mirror caps, foglight surrounds, body decals and bonnet protector. It also adds an LED light bar, phone holder, protective tub liner, soft tonneau cover and General Grabber all-terrain tyres.
The changes make little difference to the driving characteristics of the Black Edition, so for all intents and purposes, the car we drove at the media launch is a Navara ST dual-cab pick-up.
Of the changes, the phone holder is the only new interior feature, so the cabin of the Black Edition is largely the same as the ST.
The Black Edition has the same centre console as the ST, with a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system and simple button-operated A/C cluster.
While the infotainment system has all the features for day-to-day operation, the layout feels a bit dated, as does the sat-nav system. It is a problem found in many Nissan models, and we feel a range-wide multimedia system update would do the brand a world of good.
A digital instrument cluster screen adds extra functionality next to the analogue speedometer and tachometer, while plentiful cupholders and storage nooks add to a functional and sensible cabin.
Manually adjusting cloth seats are standard, which after a long day of driving proved to be a bit flat and unsupportive sitting low to the floor.
While the seats do not offer a great amount of comfort, the commendable ride makes up for it.
Ride quality has long been one of the Navara’s biggest strengths, and the Black Edition is no exception.
In a segment where unladen ride quality is often harsh and unforgiving, the Navara leads the way with a soft rear suspension calibration, no doubt helped by its five-link coil rear setup when the majority of its rivals rely on leaf springs.
It soaks up bumps without jarring feedback and keeps the vehicle settled through corners, going some way towards reducing the truck-like driving feel of some utes.
Impressively, it still retains a 3500kg braked towing capacity, which is standard across the range.
The Navara’s steering ratio was tightened in the February update for a more responsive feel, however is still a bit light and vague – normal for a pick-up – but not as sharp as segment leaders like the Ford Ranger.
No changes have been made to the Navara ST’s engine, a 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel four cylinder developing 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm between 1500-2500rpm, teamed to a seven-speed automatic transmission.
During our varied drive, consisting of long, back country roads and low-speed off-road trails, we recorded a fuel economy figure of around 9.5 litres per 100km, up from the official figure of 7.0L/100km.
Performance from the relatively small mill is perfectly adequate with plentiful low-down torque, however engine noise can be quite intrusive.
While it’s no surprise that diesel pick-ups tend to be noisy, the Navara is especially so, particularly when accelerating and revving hard. When cruising at low rpm, the engine is suitably quiet, however using a bit of the right foot results in a significant amount of engine noise coming through the cabin.
Aside from its noisy mill, the Navara has generally commendable noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) measures, and the fitment of General Grabber all-terrain tyres do not negatively impact road noise.
However, the new tyres are the only feature of the Black Edition to have an impact on the way the car drives, helping improve traction on surfaces such as sand and mud.
Low-range gearing and a rear differential lock help the Navara get through the rough stuff, but the ST-based Black Edition does not score hill descent control, which is reserved for the top-spec ST-X.
While the Black Edition features do not add a tonne of functionality to the Navara, they do a great job of making an already handsome ute look even more striking. The black alloy wheels, sports bar and nudge bar with LED light bar all contribute to making the Black Edition look tougher than its donor vehicle, and makes for a great demonstration of Nissan’s genuine accessories catalogue.
Nissan’s Navara 4x4 sales have taken a slight hit in 2018, down 6.9 per cent, however the 900 examples of the Black Edition, along with another special edition based on the SL called the Silverline, should help close the gap.
The Black Edition will primarily appeal to fans of the Navara who want to stand out against the crowd, and for that purpose it does a great job. The all-terrain tyres enhance its off-road credibility while the blacked-out elements help to turn heads on the road.
For those who do not want their ute to look like every other one on the road, the Navara Black Edition is worth a look.
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