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Future models - Nissan - Navara

Geneva: Nissan Navara, Pathfinder get V6 diesel

Twins: The Nissan Navara covers both the premium and workhorse ends of the light truck market with twin models.

Renault V6 engine to give top-line Nissan Navaras and Pathfinders a push in facelift

Nissan logo2 Mar 2010

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

ARGUABLY Nissan’s most relevant Geneva motor show debutantes for Australia aside from the Micra are its revamped Navara one-tonne pick-up and Pathfinder mid-sized SUV.

To more ably face of the upcoming Volkswagen Amarok threat, the bestselling (in Europe as well as for Nissan Australia) D40 Navara gains a new V6 diesel option, overhauled four-cylinder diesel engine, an improved cabin presentation, more standard features and welcome safety upgrades.

The changes also apply to the R51 Pathfinder, but neither body-on-chassis vehicle will shout their respective physical changes with much gusto when both go on sale in May or June this year in Australia.

Strain your eyes and you may spot the reshaped bonnet, curvier bumpers, revised headlights (with a new type of washer and high-intensity discharge Xenon availability on upper-end Pathfinders) and more slanted grille, which collectively add 80mm to the D40/R51’s snout.

Different side mouldings, restyled alloy wheels (with an 18-inch option now on the Pathfinder), modifications to the tail-lights and rear bumper (for ‘a tougher appearance’) and two fresh hues in shades of blue also help give the game away, but existing owners will more likely appreciate Nissan’s attempts to boost quality inside.

In the name of aesthetics, tactility and/or functionality where applicable, the cabin makeover brings altered switchgear, door trims, seat fabrics, storage solutions and instrument dials, while Bluetooth connectivity is available as part of Nissan’s Connect Premium package that also includes a new high-res touch-screen, a 40GB hard-drive, music integration and satellite navigation.

12 center image There’s better night-time illumination for some switches, the all-wheel drive controls are now easier to operate, little luxuries like a variety of leather upholstery, heated seats and electronic instrumentation are now featured as options on higher-end versions, and a speed limiter function has been added to the cruise control system.

On the safety front (an issue on the D40 after a worrying initial NCAP result, although modifications were made later), stability control finally makes its debut on the Navara, as does a rear-view camera.

Top models gain V6 diesel power in the form of Renault’s new 3.0-litre dCi direct-injection Euro 5-emissions-rated unit delivering 170kW of power and 550Nm of torque between 1700rpm and 2500rpm. This allows for a towing capacity of 3500kg with a braked trailer on Pathfinder and 3000kg with Navara.

Yet the existing 2.5 four-cylinder dCi diesel hasn’t been ignored, with a range of detailed improvements that result in an 11 per cent power and torque hike, to 140kW and 450Nm respectively.

Fuel consumption falls too, by 1.3 litres per 100 kilometres to 8.5L/100km in manual models, and is matched by a 40 gram per kilometre carbon dioxide rating drop to 224g/km.

Final spec details are yet to be confirmed except that the V6 diesel is most likely to be available only on the flagship versions of each bodystyle.

Nissan will continue with its two-pronged Navara approach as it seeks to consolidate the one-tonne utility range as the company’s bestseller.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson said the Navara strategy could even be considered a three-pronged attack, with the introduction in 2008 of the larger and newer D40 range out of Thailand slipping beneath the Spanish-made D40 trucks.

In the value end of the market, the D22 Navara has sold consistently since being relaunched in Australia about two years ago. It dates back to 1997.

Last year, Nissan sold more than 18,200 Navaras, outselling the next-placed Nissan models, the X-Trail (7875) and Tiida (7134), by more than double.

“We have every intention to continue with (the current Navara strategy),” Mr Thompson told GoAuto late last month.

“D22 continues to deliver the volume expectations we set out for it every month and every year, without cannibalising the D40 Navara, so we have every intention to continue to supply that product as long as there is a demand for – let’s say – a $30,000 Dual Cab.

“In that space with the D22 ST-R, it’s very different to the $40,000 D40 ST that we have, and when we’re talking about the minor change that is coming out of Spain with the ST-X, there’s obviously a $10,000-$15,000 difference.

“So there’s still definitely still in the market a demand for a reliable and hard-working reliable value ute, meaning that we will continue the parallel sales strategy until we begin to see that the vehicle itself is no longer delivering what the market expects from it. And we don’t think that will be the case in the next year or two.”

Mr Thompson believes Nissan will be well-served by the European D40 ST-X against Volkswagen’s new entry into the light truck market, the Argentinean-made Amarok.

“Are we prepared for premium one-tonners like the Volkswagen Amarok as well as the cheap ones from China? Absolutely. That’s why we have the strategy that is in play now, and as we go forward with that premium space that, let’s face it, can go beyond $50,000, we have elected to stay with the product that is sourced from Spain.

“We have re-sourced all of the Navara product from Thailand outside of the top end (D40 ST-X), and once again we are aligning ourselves with what the European market wants from a top-level ute, and we can get that from Spain.

“We will be able to be class leading and own that space with the D40 ST – that’s where our volume will be and that’s where we believe the major part of the market will be, and then the D22 will address the value-driven customers.

“It’s an almost three-tier strategy for Navara.”

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Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.