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Car reviews - Nissan - Navara - ST-X 550 dual-cab utility

Launch Story

2 Nov 2010

By MATHIEU RAUDONIKIS NISSAN Australia has launched a fresh attack on the 4x4 utility and SUV markets in the form of a powerful new V6 turbo-diesel and seven-speed automatic transmission for its Navara and Pathfinder, rolling out both models for a first drive at a media event at Mount Cotton in Queensland this week ahead of their showroom arrival in January.

The range-topping Navara ST-X 550 and Pathfinder Ti 550 models will bring class-leading performance to the Nissan stable thanks to the new V9X engine, which comes as a result of Nissan’s alliance with Renault and offers 170kW of power at 3750rpm and 550Nm of torque from just 1750rpm – figures that are unmatched in the medium SUV wagon and 4x4 ute categories.

As GoAuto reported when the vehicles were first presented at the Australian International Motor Show in Sydney last month, the European performance comes at a price and the two Nissan variants will be priced from $60,990 (Navara) and $75,990 (Pathfinder) when they hit the streets early next year.

The new hero model will be a welcome boost for the Pathfinder, which has struggled in medium SUV wagon sales, trailing well behind the more popular and bigger Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero, as well as the Ford Territory, Holden Captiva and Toyota Kluger soft-roaders.

Last year, Nissan sold just 1780 Pathfinders compared to Prado on 13,180 and Kluger on 12,848, while Captiva (11,504), Territory (10,884) and Pajero (5271) were all well ahead.

It has been a similar story in 2010, with VFACTS figures to the end of September showing 1011 Pathfinder sales while Prado still leads with 12,882 followed by Captiva (12,086), Kluger (9399), Territory (8837) and Pajero (5239).

The Pathfinder Ti 550 will give the nameplate a point of difference with its performance and as a top-spec variant it comes with the works.

The 550 is based on the already loaded Ti variant, which includes leather seating for seven with heated power adjustable front seats, satellite-navigation with a seven-inch screen that also shows vision from the reversing camera, a rear-seat DVD system, Bluetooth phone compatibility, dual-zone climate-control, rear air-conditioning and a power sunroof.

In addition to the new engine and gearbox, the Ti 550 adds privacy glass, heated exterior mirrors, an eight-inch rear-seat entertainment system screen, a nine-speaker Bose sound system, rear foglamps, a bonnet protector, rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps.

While the Navara ST-X already has electronic stability and traction control as standard, the 550 adds a tub liner, satin black sports bar with LED brake light, a hard tonneau cover that locks with the remote central locking, a bonnet protector, front foglights, headlamp washers, privacy glass, roof rails and V6 badges.

In the 4x4 ute segment, Navara has run a constant second place in sales to Toyota HiLux, even with Navara sales bolstered by both D40 and D22 Navara models being sold side-by-side.

To the end of September 2010, Navara had sold 14,604 units to HiLux’s 18,540, with the Holden Colorado a distant third with 8533 sales.

Nissan Australia’s brand manager for SUV and 4x4 vehicles, Andrew Holbrook, said the company expects to achieve 22,500 Navara sales this year after 2009 showed a record 19,600 units. Of those 2010 sales, around 19,000 will be 4x4 diesel double-cab units and just 6000 will be the older D22 model.

The V9X engine is a 2991cc, 65-degree V6 with a single turbocharger and intercooler. V6 engines are commonly made with a 60-degree V but the wider 65-degree V of the V9X makes for smoother operation and allows the turbocharger to be mounted between the cylinder banks.

Further adding to the engine’s smooth running is the cylinder block, which is made from compacted graphite iron (CGI). CGI is lighter than traditional grey cast iron yet more rigid than aluminium so it does not require the stiffening braces of alloy blocks to get high levels of refinement.

A CGI block was recently employed by another auto manufacturing collaborative the TDV6 engine shared between Jaguar Land Rover and Peugeot-Citroen – and soon to be in the Ford Territory diesel – also uses this material for its engine block.

The top end of the V9X engine uses aluminium heads with DOHC and four-valves-per-cylinder in architecture similar to that employed by Renault in its 2.0dCi engine. Fuel injection is via high pressure (1800 bar) Bosch double common rail and Piezo injectors, while a catalytic converter and particulate filter are combined in a single unit in the exhaust system to clean out emissions.

The engine also uses cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to help it meet Euro 5 emissions standards but CO2 figures are yet to be released. In the Pathfinder and Navara applications it delivers a claimed 9.3L/100km fuel consumption.

Quiet operation and refinement are key attributes of the V9X engine. The engine is used in Europe to power the Renault Laguna and Infiniti EX, FX and M models and is also being considered as one choice for the diesel engine option in the new Nissan Patrol when it goes on sale in Australia in 2012.

The engine is manufactured in Renault’s plant in Cleon, France, while both the R51 Pathfinder and double-cab Navara are built in Nissan’s Barcelona, Spain, factory where the engine is fitted.

In the medium SUV market both Toyota Prado and Mitsubishi Pajero are powered by four-cylinder turbo-diesel engines that top out at 127kW/410Nm and 147kW/441Nm respectively.

In the 4x4 double-cab ute segment HiLux’s 3.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel makes 126kW/343Nm, Mitsubishi Triton’s 2.5 pulls 131kW/400Nm, the 3.0-litre engine in the Holden Colorado/Isuzu D-Max siblings makes 120kW/333Nm, and the Ford Ranger/Mazda B-Series twins get 115kW/380Nm from their 3.0-litre four-cylinder unit.

Even the current class leader on power and torque, Nissan’s own D40 Navara 2.5 turbo-diesel, which will be continued alongside the 3.0-litre V6, makes just 140kW/450Nm.

The seven-speed automatic transmission comes to Navara 550 at a time when many one-tonne utes are only just making the jump from four to five ratios, so again this will represent class-leading technology in a light truck.

“This exceptional engine – and in particular its wall of torque – sets new standards for the class, producing an iconic flagship model for both Navara and Pathfinder with unbeatable performance and refinement,” said Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson.

“The new engine, gearbox and additional equipment mean these two exclusive models represent the jewel in the crown for both the Nissan Pathfinder and Navara ranges.

“The high levels of performance and luxury features will also appeal to customers of prestige and luxury vehicles, while retaining traditional Nissan levels of affordability, and with so much capacity for effortless towing, both Navara ST-X 550 and Pathfinder Ti 550 models will become the default choice for customers who think big when it comes to outdoor activities.”

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