ROAD TEST: Nissan Navara 2.5D PRO-2X double cab
Bakkies. A unique South African word and something that given half the chance, every one of us wants. Whether for work or leisure we love them and if you look at vehicle sales, bakkies make up a large proportion of those sales.
Having struggled to make a significant dent in that market, Nissan has now come out with all guns blazing with their new Navara.
A significant investment in their plant in Rosslyn, Pretoria to manufacture it locally has also added more impetus and now that it’s competitively priced against the top dogs, the sales charts will be watched with keen interest.
We got to spend a week with the Navara 2.5D PRO-2X double cab automatic and walked away suitably impressed.
While there’s much attention focused on 4x4 double cabs, it’s interesting to note that Nissan sales of the Navara are made up of 61 percent 4x2 and 39 percent 4x4.
Under the bonnet, the Nissan Navara now has a 2.5-litre turbo diesel engine that produces 140kW and 450Nm of torque coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission. There’s a slight clatter on cold start ups which is to be expected but once all the fluids have warmed up, it quickly settles into a reassuring purr.
The changes to the design have made it a lot more prominent than the outgoing model with a bold grille, beefy bumper and in the one on test, the red Nissan logo and inserts certainly gives it the impression that it means business.
The Nissan Navara has always been a comfortable bakkie to drive, especially on dirt roads and negotiating potholes.
The new chassis with revised mountings, dual-rate 5-link coil suspension (as opposed to leaf springs) and shock absorber damping makes this probably the best handling bakkie across all terrains, apart from Ford’s specially designed Raptor.
I suspect the fact that Nissan’s local brains trust spent a lot of time in South African conditions driving it and had significant input, has a lot to do with it.
I spent time driving dusty, badly corrugated roads between farms while I had it on test and for an unloaded ladder frame, I always felt in control and as I became more comfortable with the driving dynamics cornering became a lot of fun. A lot more than my companion behind me in one of the competition’s SUVs.
The leather seats are especially comfortable which becomes important once you’ve been behind the wheel for hours trying to pass slow trucks and avoid head-on collisions with Mpumalanga drivers that have a death wish.
The steering feels very light and direct and takes a while to get used to but there’s enough feedback to give you confidence on bumpy roads.
They’ve also done a good job with sound dampening and it’s especially quiet on tar with very little road or wind noise.
The engine coped happily and while there’s a slight lag on pull off, it quickly gets up to speed and when you floor it to pass slower traffic, the box changes quickly to the right gear and doesn’t labour it before changing up again.
Fuel consumption averaged out at just over 9L/100km in a combined cycle which is not bad at all.
It comes with an 8-inch touchscreen with NissanConnect that’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible with a cable and while it’s not the fanciest system in the market, it suited my use perfectly. There are a further four USB ports and a 12v power outlet for keeping various devices charged and running.
The rest of the interior is a bit of a hit and miss affair.
While the leather seats are comfortable and good quality and the leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear shifter add a nice touch, the rest of it is finished in a variety of plastic materials. It may be hard-wearing and practical but just a faux leather covered dash with stitching would have made a significant difference.
What I did like though, is Nissan’s nifty electric sliding rear window which comes in handy if you have a canopy and want to reach through or if you want fresh air without the noise of an open window.
Numerous new safety features like forward-collision alert, automatic emergency braking, high beam assist, rear cross-traffic alert and a 360 degree camera system are designed to keep you safe when things go awry.
Overall the Nissan Navara is a big step up from the model it replaces and at a very competitive price it will be easy to live with. The drive quality sets it apart from the competition, especially on gravel so if you’re in the market for a double cab you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t take a closer look.
Priced at R699 000, the Nissan Navara 2.5D PRO-2X comes with a 6-year/150 000km warranty and a 6-year/90 000km service plan.
Nissan Navara 2.5 DDTi PRO-2X double cab
Engine: 2.5-litre, 4-cyl, turbodiesel
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel drive
Power: 140kW @ 3600rpm
Torque: 450Nm @ 2000rpm
Fuel use: 8.1 l/100km (claimed)
Warranty: 6-year/150 000km
Service plan: 6-year/90 000km
Price: R699 000
Used data, by AutoTrader
Used equivalent: Nissan Navara 2.3D LE
Average price: R468 939
Average year model: 2018
Average mileage: 63 086