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Driven: Petrol power gone from updated Nissan Navara

Horses for courses: Nissan has made some changes to the suspension setup and added a new SL variant to its Navara workhorse range.

Nissan drops petrol and tweaks suspension on underperforming Navara

Nissan logo24 Mar 2017

By STUART MARTIN

NISSAN’S freshly updated Navara workhorse range will be an all-diesel affair and start north of $20,000 plus on-road costs once current stock is sold, the company has confirmed.

Toyota and Mitsubishi will be the final ute-makers with a petrol-powered base model anywhere near $20,000, leaving any options in the sub-$20K bracket to Indian brands Mahindra and Tata with their Pik-Up and Xenon respectively.

Nissan Australia introduced its Series II “running change” update of the Navara range last week, which features changes to the suspension to rectify concerns about aesthetics and road manners.

However, the company has also quietly dropped the entry-level petrol-powered DX, which used a 122kW/238Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, from the line-up.

Nissan Australia general manager of corporate communications Peter Fadeyev said the company had some stock of the petrol DX but, once these are sold, the petrol-powered price-point vehicle would be discontinued.

“We have stocks of the petrol-powered Navara DX but we won’t be importing any more of these from this point forth,” he said at a combined Navara/Pathfinder national media launch in New South Wales last week.

“The reason relates to the investment required to update the ‘QR25’ petrol engine to meet the new Euro 5b emissions standard in Australia.

“Nissan has decided to not make this investment so the petrol-powered Navara DX won’t be in our new-vehicle catalogue in the future.”

Changes to the suspension, a new mid-range workhorse variant and more access to the seven-speed automatic are the main changes to the Navara line-up in a bid to boost sales in the competitive segment.

The company said feedback predominantly from customers – as well as media and dealers – prompted changes to the double-wishbone front and five-link coil-spring rear suspension.

Design changes have been made to the rear rebound dampers, stiffer dampers all-round and stiffened rear springs, but the model update has not altered the lower-spec leaf-spring vehicles.

Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Richard Emery said it was customer feedback on the “low-tail” visual that prompted the changes.

“It was mainly customer feedback in most cases, a lot of it was more about the visual, the back tended to sit down,” he said. “Yes, there was also commentary around the drive experience, but it was more to do with the visual.”

Mr Emery said the car-maker’s Australian engineering team had been heavily involved in testing the various improvements.

“Different markets need different things. There is going to be a range of global settings for suspension, but I think here, Europe and Africa there are slight differences between the markets – our settings are based on Australian consumers’ needs.”

Nissan sold 16,728 Navaras last year, well off the pace of Toyota’s HiLux (42,104) and Ford’s Ranger (36,934).

Mr Emery said the model line-up changes, including the introduction of the mid-range SL dual-cab tradie special, were aimed at increasing sales.

“That’s why the SL variant has been brought in, because we think there’s some missed opportunity in the small-to-medium enterprise level. I wouldn’t say there’s huge growth, we’re looking for sensible growth,” he said.

“Navara has typically been our best seller, alongside X-Trail. My team and I are confident that this Series II version will further advance its longstanding popularity.

“We’re a car company and we want to sell more cars. We’d like to see volume growth in 2017 and 2018, the plan here is to make sure that we’re meeting the segments in which we have an opportunity in, or missed opportunity in.”

The engine line-up has been left unchanged in the model update – as has the exterior styling – meaning the lower-grade RX variants are powered by a 120kW/403Nm 2.3-litre ‘YS23’ four-cylinder single-turbo diesel.

The SL, ST and ST-X variants are equipped with a 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo version of the 2.3-litre diesel, with six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmission choices and dial-operated four-wheel-drive selection on 4x4 models.

These diesel drivetrains have a fuel economy figure between 6.0 and 7.0 litres per 100km on the combined cycle.

Nissan has left much of the Series II range pricing unchanged, with a handful of variants rising by $1000.

The DX is now only available as a 4x4 single cab-chassis diesel manual, priced from $31,990 plus on-road costs, and it sits on 15-inch steel wheels and does without vanity mirrors, chrome interior trim bits and a rear window demister.

The RX is the new entry grade in 4x2 single cab-chassis diesel manual and starts from $25,990, with the 4x4 from $32,990 for the single-cab six-speed manual and from $35,490 for the six-speed auto.

King-cab models start from $28,490 for the RX 4x2 manual cab-chassis, rising to $35,490 for the 4x4 variant and $36,990 for the style-side ute.

The RX dual-cab line-up kicks off with the 4x2 manual diesel ute from $32,990 ($35,490 for the auto) 4x4 models start from $38,490 for the manual cab-chassis, or the new automatic model kicks in at $40,990.

Dual-cab pick-up body styles are also available in RX guise, priced from $39,990 for the manual 4x4, rising to $42,490 for the automatic.

Among the standard fare for the RX is 16-inch steel wheels, cloth trim, vinyl flooring, steering wheel audio controls, remote keyless entry, a six-speaker sound system, air-conditioning, cruise control, rear vents (where applicable) and power windows/mirrors.

The new SL dual-cab is based on the RX and starts from $43,990 for a manual 4x4, or from $46,490 for the auto. It sits on 16-inch steel wheels and gets a 5.0-inch colour screen with satellite navigation, LED headlights, daytime running lights, the coil-spring five-link rear end and a reversing camera.

Pricing for the ST range has risen by $1000, starting from $39,990 for the 4x2 dual-cab manual pick-up and $42,490 for the auto, with 16-inch alloys, auto-dimming rearview mirror, trip computer, a rear diff lock and leather-wrapped steering wheel, as well as the 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation being added to its features list.

Top-spec ST-X buyers are also paying $1000 more, starting from $49,990 for the king-cab 4x4 manual pick-up and $52,490 for the automatic. A new 4x2 ST-X dual-cab diesel pick-up is priced from $44,990 for a manual and $47,490 for the auto.

The flagship ST-X is available in manual dual-cab form, wearing a $51,990 pricetag or $54,490 for the auto minus the standard sunroof (now a $1000 option). It sits on 18-inch alloys and has dual-zone climate control, leather-accented trim, seat heaters, hill-start and descent control, keyless entry/start and a 7.0-inch colour touchscreen with satellite navigation.

The range-wide cabin features list includes a USB and auxiliary outlet, as well as three 12-volt power sockets – one in the upper dash and two in the centre console.

The RX, SL, ST and ST-X pick-up variants also pick up a weatherproof 12-volt outlet in the tray, while king- and dual-cab versions get the power-sliding rear window.

Bluetooth phone and music streaming is included range-wide, with Nissan’s own smartphone integration (in lieu of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto) standard on SL, ST and ST-X models.

Safety features also largely carryover from the five-star ANCAP-rated launch model, with standard equipment including seven airbags (the normal six plus a driver’s knee airbag), stability and traction control, a brake-operated limited-slip diff function (on all bar DX), ABS brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist for the front disc/rear drum brakes.

The new SL and carryover ST and ST-X variants gain standard LED headlights, daytime running lights and a reversing camera, with the flagship also getting standard hill hold, descent control and rear sensors.

Nissan Australia has removed the global name ‘NP300’ badging from the updated model, as well as discontinuing the vulnerable fold-out cupholders from the dual-cab’s rear floor.

Much of the Navara’s capacity is unchanged – 3500kg braked towing for the diesels and largely unchanged payloads that range from 941kg in the dual-cab ST-X auto to 1359kg in the RX 4x2 single cab.

2017 Nissan Navara pricing*
Single cab
DX 4x4 diesel cab chassis$31,990
RX 4x2 diesel cab chassis$25,990
RX 4x4 diesel cab chassis$32,990
RX 4x4 diesel cab chassis (a)$35,490
King cab
RX 4x2 diesel cab chassis$28,490
RX 4x4 diesel cab chassis$35,490
RX 4x4 diesel pick-up$36,990
ST 4x4 diesel pick-up$43,990
ST 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$46,490
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up$49,990
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$52,490
Dual cab
RX 4x2 diesel pick-up$32,990
RX 4x2 diesel pick-up (a)$35,490
ST 4x2 diesel pick-up$39,990
ST 4x2 diesel pick-up (a)$42,490
ST-X 4x2 diesel pick-up$44,990
ST-X 4x2 diesel pick-up w/ sunroof$45,990
ST-X 4x2 diesel pick-up (a)$47,490
ST-X 4x2 diesel pick-up w/ sunroof (a)$48,490
RX 4x4 diesel cab chassis$38,490
RX 4x4 diesel cab chassis (a)$40,990
RX 4x4 diesel pick-up$39,990
RX 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$42,490
SL 4x4 diesel pick-up$43,990
SL 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$46,490
ST 4x4 diesel pick-up$46,990
ST 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$49,490
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up$51,990
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up w/ sunroof$52,990
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up (a)$54,490
ST-X 4x4 diesel pick-up w/ sunroof (a)$55,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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