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Driven: Nissan’s big city gamble with Navara

Nissan bets on ‘civilian’ spec Navara 4x4 dual cab winning hearts, minds and sales


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1 Jun 2015

NISSAN has aimed its new NP300 Navara dual-cab 4x4 range squarely at private buyers as it sets out to regain ground lost in recent years to the Ford Ranger and Toyota’s ever-popular HiLux.

With a claimed 100 per cent ground-up build, a new twin-turbo diesel engine and more variants, Nissan is aiming to climb the category rankings with its number-one selling nameplate.

Speaking at the local media launch for the NP300 Navara in South Australia last week, Nissan Motor Co Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery highlighted the importance of the new model to the Japanese car-maker Down Under.

“Our car has grown up in much the same way as the consumer's expectations have in the Australian market place,” he said. “Navara is not only important to the company globally, as you can imagine it's very important for us locally.”

Mr Emery pointed out that Nissan is in a better position than some of its competitors when it comes to supply.

“We are in a strong position in terms of getting the build that we need and the specification that we need,” he told GoAuto. “I don't see any difficulties with meeting the market (demand) and that's what we ultimately want to do is meet what the market wants.

“With the full range of NP300 Navara variants on sale in the market, we expect to sell above 20,000 units per annum.”

The car-maker has even turned away from a previously stated ambition to trim down its variant lines within model ranges, as it plans to offer 27 Thai-sourced Navara variants by the end of 2015.

“I've actually been quoted as saying our policy has been to lessen our options,” Mr Emery admitted to GoAuto. “We did it with some of our other models and then here we are going the opposite direction with Navara.

“You need to offer a wide variety of single-cabs, a wide variety of king-cabs, and dual-cabs. That is very much consumer led more than anything else. In terms of their expectations of what they want to buy.”

Mr Emery pointed to the rapid change in the audience for the 4x4 pick-up as one of the reasons for the change of philosophy.

“It's ultimately a reflection of what consumers are after. Because we're looking for a broader customer base with this car verses the old car, then you need to offer those various options.”

Initially available in 14 variants encompassing the bulk of its 4x4 dual-cab fleet, the balance will come on stream late in 2015. These will include king- and single-cab 4x2 utes equipped with leaf-sprung rear ends.

“There's been some production delay on single-cab and dual-cab but we can work our way through that,” said Mr Emery. “We expect to regain the market share we relinquished during the run-out period for the previous Navara D40 and D22 models.”

There will be 11 4x2 variants, including two single-cabs, one king-cab and eight dual-cabs across four grades. In the 16-strong 4x4 line-up, there will be three single-cabs, six king-cabs and seven dual-cabs on offer.

Prices will start at $26,490, plus on-road costs, for the 2WD DX manual petrol dual-cab, peaking at $54,490 for the range-topping ST-X automatic 4x4 dual-cab.

Nissan Australia will also move away from its previous strategy of offering the current and previous models side-by-side, focusing solely on the new NP300. Mr Emery told GoAuto that the company had less than one thousand units of the outgoing models left in its network.

Based on what Nissan claims is a cleanskin build – despite conjecture that the chassis rails are a carry-over item – the new D23 Navara carries similar dimensions to the outgoing D40.

The dual-cab 4x4 is 5255mm long (down 41mm on D40), 1850mm wide (plus 2mm) and 1820mm high (plus 25mm), with the 3150mm wheelbase 50mm shorter than previously.

The D23’s cargo bed is 1503mm long, 1560mm wide and 474mm high, making it slightly smaller but a little deeper than the D40, with its overall carrying capacity staying the same.

While senior Nissan chassis engineers have previously told GoAuto that the chassis rails, the front wishbones and other floorpan parts are carried over, Nissan Australia insists that the vehicle is all-new.

The Navara’s five-link coil-sprung rear suspension system is definitely new, however. Comprising of trailing arms affixed to a rear axle, its rear dampers are mounted independently of the multi-rate coil springs. A rear sway bar arrangement is also fitted, while a redesigned diff housing is flattened on its underside for additional ground clearance.

All dual-cab pick-up variants sport vented disc brakes up front, rear drum brakes, independent double-wishbone front suspension with a front anti-roll bar.

New also is the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. Sourced from Renault’s commercial division, the YS23 will be available in single- and twin-turbo versions.

In the ST and ST-X, the sequential-turbo spec makes 140kW at 3750rpm and 450Nm at 1500-2500rpm. The RX makes do with a single-turbo version which drops outputs to 120kW at 3750rpm and 403Nm at 1500-2500rpm.

The entry-level NX 4x2 dual-cab, meanwhile, uses Nissan’s ubiquitous QR25DE 2.5-litre turbo-petrol four that makes 122kW at 6000rpm and 238Nm at 4000rpm in this spec.

Fuel consumption for the twin-turbo is rated at 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres for the manual, and 7.0L/100km for the automatic, while CO2 emissions are 172 and 186 grams per kilometre respectively. No performance figures were provided.

A Jatco seven-speed automatic transmission, as used in the Y62 Patrol, debuts in Navara, along with a revised six-speed manual gearbox with revised ratios.

Manual variants all around the world use an external case manufactured at Nissan’s casting plant in Melbourne.

The shift-on-the-fly 4WD system lets the driver switch between 2WD and 4WD (4H mode) via a centre console-mounted dial at speeds of up to 100km/h.

Hill Descent Control is also fitted to ST-X 4x4 models.

Minimum turning circles (kerb to kerb) for the NP300 Navara have been improved in comparison to its predecessor, now at 11.8 metres for DX and RX and 12.4 metres for ST and ST-X. Previously, it ranged from 12.5 to 13.4 metres on the D40.

Nissan has given the Navara diesels a 3500kg towing capacity, and claims it will be able to carry 930kg of payload (including passengers and accessories) at this top figure. The lone petrol 4x2 can tow a 1588kg braked trailer.

Entry level DX Navaras feature cloth trim, CD player with USB and iPod connectivity, steering wheel controls, six speakers, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, cruise control and airvents in the rear in dual-cab variants.

Driver and passenger assist grips are fitted in all four outboard seating positions, electric rear-view mirrors, three 12V sockets and vinyl floor coverings.

It also comes equipped with ABS, TCS, EBD, and VDC, along with brake assist and seven airbags. Automatic halogen headlights, bed tie-down points and body-coloured bumpers are further spec highlights.

The RX adds a powered sliding rear window, remote keyless entry, front and rear floor carpet, rear window demister, alarm, an additional 12V outlet in the cargo bed, tinted rear and rear-side glass and chrome side mirrors.

Stepping up to the ST adds 16-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights and LED projector headlights, side steps, heated door mirrors, smartphone integration, 5.0-inch colour infotainment screen, reversing camera and a Drive-Assist dash display.

The range-topping ST-X adds 18-inch alloys (plus an alloy spare), leather-accented seats with heated fronts and powered drivers’ seat, a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with navigation, smartkey with push-button engine start, carpet mats, reversing sensors, a Util-Track bed tie-down system, plastic bed liner, fog-lights and sunroof.

Nissan Navara pricing*
2WD DX petrol dual cab$26,490
2WD DX petrol dual cab (a)$28,990
2WD RX diesel dual cab$32,990
2WD RX diesel dual cab (a)$35,490
2WD ST diesel dual cab$38,990
2WD ST diesel dual cab (a)$41,490
2WD ST-X diesel dual cab$44,990
2WD ST-X diesel dual cab (a)$47,490
4WD RX diesel dual cab$39,990
4WD RX diesel dual cab (a)$42,490
4WD ST diesel dual cab$45,990
4WD ST diesel dual cab (a)$48,490
4WD ST-X diesel dual cab$51,990
4WD ST-X diesel dual cab (a)$54,490
*Excludes on-road costs.

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