Just under a year ago we drove the new Nissan Navara NP300 in Thailand, the country it is made in, and now we have finally had a chance to see how it translates to local conditions with the launch of the new Navara in New Zealand.
At the international launch much was made of the Navara’s switch to a multi-link rear suspension set-up on its wellside models.
This, it claimed, would improve ride quality while retaining the same payload (the Navara has a total payload capacity, including passengers, of just under or just over 1000kg depending on the model) and towing capacities (350kg braked across all diesel models, 1588kg braked on the sole petrol model) as the cab/chassis variants that would remain on the old leaf-spring set-up.
At the Thailand launch most of the driving was done off-road — where the suspension coped admirably — or on slow, winding jungle tracks, while all the on-road, higher-speed touring was done on concrete motorways. Here the new suspension proved itself to be comfortable and supple.
But it was all but impossible to predict what it would be like on New Zealand’s coarse-chip-sealed roads.
At the local launch we had plenty of time on the road and can safely tell you that the multi-link set-up has made, well, very little difference on New Zealand roads. And, really, it probably isn’t that surprising — after all, when you set up a vehicle to carry a hefty load in the back it is always going to ride like a ute, regardless of the suspension set-up.
Which still leaves the Volkswagen Amarok’s fantastic ride a bit of a mystery.
That doesn’t mean the Navara’s ride is in any way bad — far from it. In fact, aside from the Amarok, it is right up at the pointy end of good rides in the ute segment.
The Navara ST-X includes 18-inch alloys and the option of a seven-speed auto transmission.
Its handling is well up there as well, while the Navara’s light weight means it packs the best power-to-weight ratios in the diesel ute segment.
As the new NP300 effectively replaces the elderly budget D22, the new lower-priced DX double cab 2WD kicks off the range and packs the same 118kW/231Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine that is found in the X-Trail.
It comes standard with daytime running lights, seven airbags, cruise control, Bluetooth phone connectivity and audio streaming, 15-inch steel wheels and vinyl flooring, and is only available with a six-speed manual transmission.
The DX kicks off the range at $31,990.
The RX is available in 2WD or 4WD form and adds privacy glass, a power rear window, an alarm and 16-inch steel wheels to the DX trim.
Also only available as a manual, the RX gets a 120kW/403Nm single-turbo version of Nissan’s new 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel engine and starts at $39,990 for the 2WD, topping out at $49,990 for the 4WD.
Next up is the ST, which packs a 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo version of the diesel engine, while also gaining 16-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, side steps and a reversing camera.
The ST starts at $45,990 for the 2WD manual and goes up to $57,490 for the 4WD with the optional seven-speed auto that is only available on the ST and ST-X.
Rounding out the range is the ST-X, which adds 18-inch alloys, reversing sensors, a sun roof, leather-accented seats, satellite navigation, roof rails, push button start and Nissan’s brilliant Utili-Track tie-down system.
Pricing for the ST-X starts at $52,990 for the 2WD manual and tops out at $64,990.