Custom order: RVE's new Nissan Navara tested on Kiwi soil
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Nissan Navara by RVE
Modifications can be tailored to customer’s liking
Fuel economy isn’t significantly affected by the tyres
Upgrades can be pricey
Sports seats aren’t the most comfortable
Here in New Zealand, we seem to love our utes more than anywhere else in the world. For as long as I have been active in the industry, the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux have done battle at the top of local sales charts, only hampered in recent times by supply strains.
This love for practical vehicles is likely rooted in the Kiwi ‘can-do’ attitude, which is something that also contributes to our love for modifying them. These days, finding a stock-standard double-cab ute on the road is easier said than done, with things like tyres, flares and sports bars so readily available, and when it comes to fitting these utes out, no one seems to do it better than New Zealand’s own RVE.
For RVE’s latest project, the company has turned to Nissan’s face-lifted Navara, and has fitted it out with all manner of upgrades to increase its everyday practicality as well as off-road ability. As a starting point, this new Navara is one of the best, given that the SL double-cab 4x4 only costs $49,990, and when paired with the RVE Pack V2, you’re left with a bottom line of $64,538. For those that aren’t great with numbers, RVE’s pack on this Navara goes for $14,593, but turns it into an incredibly useful machine.
When it comes to this RVE pack, the modifications can be broken down into four neat categories; interior, aesthetic, driving, and practicality – so let’s start on the inside.
In here, the ‘Monza’ sports seats are RVE’s bread and butter, and do wonders to increase the cabin appeal. For the most part, these bolstered sports seats are comfortable, but the plastic inserts that sit behind the driver’s shoulders can get a little annoying on long drives. The second row of seating gets the same diamond-stitched treatment, and the steering wheel gets matching diamond stitching to bring everything together.
Along the same lines, the exterior of this Navara follows suit with blue accents. These are part of the ‘RVE Decal Package’, and work well with the blacked-out features. The two-tone fenders can also be thrown into this category, which are done by RVE, and do wonders to the Navara’s on-road presence. Lastly, while the daytime running lights mounted in the mesh grille can be used as driving lights at night, the X pattern that displays during regular use is entirely aesthetic, and gives the ute an aggressive look.
When it comes to driving dynamics, not a lot is changed by this RVE package. The Maxxis Razor all-terrain tyres that are wrapped around the 20-inch alloys obviously affect how the Navara drives, but I’d say that it’s for the best.
The 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel engine still makes 140kW and 450Nm, but thanks to a nifty little device, it has the ability to sound significantly different. It’s called an ‘Exhaust Enhancer’ and works in conjunction with the engine’s computer to produce a sound based on what the engine is doing. In this case, four different artificial engine sounds are available, and can be controlled using either a button on the steering wheel, or from a phone app.
On top of this pack, RVE also offers a raft of extras, some of which were fitted to the test vehicle we had. These included the sports bar, the rear tray roof racks, the electric roller tray shutter lid, and RVE’s tough liner tray protection system, which comes with a raft of uses.
As far as driving goes, the Maxxis tyres work well on the road with little noise, and while they lift the fuel economy slightly above Nissan’s quoted figure, it’s a worthy sacrifice for their ability off-road. In the soft sand of Muriwai, these tyres excelled, and never felt out of their depth. It’s also worth noting that the LED lights mounted on the sports bar do wonders for driving off-road at night, and light up the track ahead impeccably. Along the same lines, RVE does a great job of implementing the DRLs in with the standard lighting system, meaning drivers don’t have to worry about these being left on and draining the battery.
As a whole, I’d argue that the main benefit of the RVE extras is the practicality that is added to this Navara. While the upgrade package gives it a tougher aesthetic, if it were up to me, I’d be diving headfirst into the extras catalogue, and fitting a ute out with almost everything that is present here (well, maybe except for the exhaust enhancer). From the tray-mounted roof racks to the tough liner accessory kit, and the tailgate workbench, you’d be hard-pressed to find a vehicle with more practical uses than this Navara.
So go forth and get your new ute ‘souped up’ by RVE, it’s what us Kiwi do best, right?