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Nissan Hardbody

by CAR magazine on 01/01/2003

Comments: 0

Nissan South Africa has launched the new Hardbody, featuring distinctive new

styling, passenger-car levels of comfort and, apart from the 2,7 Diesel, new

engines.

Nissan South Africa has launched the new Hardbody, featuring distinctive new

styling, passenger-car levels of comfort and, apart from the 2,7 Diesel, new

engines. The range consists of 4×4 and 4×2 Hi-Rider double cabs, Hi-Rider single

cabs, and the SWB and LWB Workhorse.

Mike Whitfield, executive vice-president of marketing at Nissan South Africa,

says the range of 15 models retain the Hardbody’s reputation for robustness,

durability and reliability, but combines this with passenger car-like levels

of refinement, handling and comfort. “This results in even higher levels

of driving enjoyment,” he said.

"Nissan has been building 4x4s for more than 50 years and pickups for more

than 60 years, and the latest Hardbody shows that Nissan’s innovation is just

as strong as its heritage," said Whitfield. "With new Hardbody we

are taking back our traditional technological leadership in the one-ton pick-up

class, and everything possible will be done to also regain a top selling position

in this class.”

Nissan SA’s onslaught starts with the Hardbody’s powerplant. All engines

(apart from the workhorse 2,7 Diesel) are new to the Hardbody range. Top models

see the introduction of Nissan’s revolutionary new turbodiesel power plant,

the ZD30DDT. It is the first diesel in its class with multivalve technology

and boasts Nissan’s leading M-Fire combustion technology, Nissan SA claims.

The three-litre unit produces an impressive 105 kW at 3 400 r/min and 314 N.m

at 2 000 r/min.

In addition, the new four-cylinder two- and 2,4-litre petrol engines are fuel-injected

DOHC 16-valve units, with power output increasing from 70 to 92 kW over the

previous engine in the case of the two-litre, and from 88 to 110 kW for the

2400i unit.

The three-litre V6 is replaced by the 3,3-litre V6 SOHC fuel-injection engine,

now pumping out a powerful 125 kW and 265 N.m compared to the 110 kW and 237

N.m of its predecessor.

This new engine has been designed to produce maximum torque at low revs, providing

excellent on-demand power across the range. The VG33E engine produces 125 kW

at 4 800 r/min and 265 Nm at 3 600 r/min. "This represents a substantial

increase in both power and torque over the previous engine, yet there’s a significant

improvement in fuel consumption", a company spokesman said.

The new Hardbody range also sees the reintroduction of the Hi-Rider concept

pioneered by Nissan, where 4×2 pickups get the ride height and forceful stance

of a 4×4, but without the drivetrain mass and drag penalties of a four-wheel

drive system.
In terms of interior features, even the entry-level workhorse bakkies boast

passenger-car like instrumentation with a digital clock, low fuel warning light,

headlamp on warning buzzer, driver’s footrest, lockable glovebox, headrests,

tinted glass and mud flaps. Safety and security items include side impact protection

bars, a collapsible steering column and immobiliser across the range, the company

said.

The SL specification adds power steering, differential lock, intermittent wipe

for the windscreen wiper, 3-spoke steering wheel, rev counter and sliding rear

window. SE trim adds air-conditioning, electrically operated windows, central

locking, keyless entry, bucket seats, centre console, radio with front-loading

CD player, cupholders and map reading lights.

Externally the SE can be distinguished by a rollbar and nudge bar, styled rear

bumper with provision for a tow ball, 16" alloy wheels, body-colour overfenders

and front bumper, front foglights and a chrome grille.

In addition, the top-of-the-line Double Cab SEL models get airbags for driver

and front passenger, four-spoke leather steering wheel, cloth upholstery with

leather bolsters, tonneau cover, roof carrier, 16-inch alloy wheels and – for

the range-topping 3000TD and 3300 Double Cab 4x4s – an anti-lock braking system.

Damping is via independent front suspension, featuring double wishbones and

torsion bars mated to telescopic shocks. A rigid rear axle with multi-leaf springs

and off-set telescopic shock absorbers makes light work of heavy loads.

The suspension system provides a car-like ride, while retaining the load capabilities

expected of a workhorse vehicle.

The new four-wheel drive system uses a drive system similar to that in the Nissan

Patrol, including automatic locking front hubs on the top-of-the-range 4×4 double

cabs.

Under normal conditions the Hardbody 4×4 runs in two-wheel drive for maximum

economy, but a lever next to the gear selector will switch from two- to four-wheel

drive while on the move.

This is ideal for moving off the highway onto muddy or sandy tracks, but if

the terrain gets more challenging still there is the back-up of low-ratio four-wheel

drive to haul the Hardbody 4×4 through the situation, even when laden or towing

a trailer. An electro-pneumatically controlled rear differential lock extends

the off-road capability still further.