By: Graham Eagle
The new, locally built Nissan Navara will be the company’s most important South African product launch in years. Since the introduction of its predecessor in 2017, Nissan has been relying on a limited range of higher specification imported double cabs, combined with the aging NP300 Hardbody to cover the single cab and lower end double cab segments.
With the new Navara being offered in a comprehensive range of single and double cab derivatives, Nissan will now be able to offer a contemporary product in all segments and compete far more effectively with the established SA market leaders.
As important as being able to offer a broad range of derivatives, is ensuring that they meet the diverse requirements of the South African market. These range from the requirement for single cabs to be both durable and cost effective for commercial operators, to the expectation that double cabs perform the role of everyday commuter vehicles as well as being “weekend warriors”, supporting a family’s leisure activities, whether they be on or off the beaten track.
First impressions of the new vehicle are dominated by its tall, tapered front grille and distinctive headlamps – each featuring 4 LED lamps – giving it a far more imposing presence than its predecessor. Revised instrumentation includes an 8-inch navigation screen and a 7-inch higher resolution TFT screen, while Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included on higher specification models. An upgraded suite of safety features includes forward collision warning, driver alert warning, emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind spot detection, cross traffic alert and trailer sway control.
The new chassis not only provides improved strength and durability but also improves crash performance and refinement. This increased platform rigidity has been complimented by several revisions to steering and suspension tuning. The unique coil sprung rear axle has been strengthened and now features dual-rate springs to improve unladen ride quality while also increasing the load carrying capacity by 100kg. Under the new bonnet the highly regarded YD25 engine returns in two different levels of tune and coupled with either of two transmissions – six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.
Accompanied by Wilhelm Baard, the engineer whose local knowledge and engineering inputs were key to fine tuning the vehicle to meet African market needs, we initially drove the current vehicle to establish a baseline for comparison. Driving through a 7A/T, engine performance was more than adequate while overall the vehicle was refined and comfortable, despite exhibiting some cab shake over severe bumps and some front to rear imbalance over more gentle undulations – both typical characteristics for this vehicle type.
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Moving to the new vehicle, Wilhelm explained the details of the changes to the chassis rigidity, dual rate rear springs, shock absorber settings and steering. While I expected an improvement, the reality was well beyond my expectations. With the suspension working hard over severe bumps, potholes and undulations, the improved bump absorption and control was immediately obvious. Improved directional stability meant reduced steering corrections while the phasing between front and rear suspension was significantly improved. The revised suspension settings and increased chassis rigidity have all but eliminated the shudder and cab shake experienced over severe bumps.
Developing the same 140 kW and 450 N.m as the outgoing 2,3 engine, performance of the new vehicle felt similar although the spread of torque seemed broader. Engine noise levels were reduced, and the 7 speed autobox felt responsive and well matched to the engine characteristics.
A bold new look, return of a highly regarded engine, improved refinement and safety, and a major step up in driving dynamics, make the new Navara a compelling proposition. Coupled with aggressive pricing, it’s clear that Nissan is determined that it will make its presence felt in the competitive SA one-tonner market.
2021 NISSAN NAVARA PRICING
2WD Single Cab
2,5 Petrol XE 4×2 manual: R311 000
2,5D (120 kW) XE 4×2 manual: R350 000
2,5D (120 kW) SE 4×2 manual: R426 000
2,5D (140 kW) LE 4×2 manual: R456 000
4WD Single Cab
2,5D (120 kW) SE 4×4 manual: R492 000
2,5D (140 kW) LE 4×4 manual: R527 000
2WD Double Cab
2,5D (120 kW) SE 4×2 manual: R474 000
2,5D (140 kW) SE 4×2 auto: R498 000
2,5D (120 kW) SE Plus 4×2 manual: R505 000
2,5D (140 kW) SE Plus 4×2 auto: R528 000
2,5D (140 kW) LE 4×2 auto: R606 000
2,5D (140 kW) PRO-2X 4×2 auto: R686 000
4WD Double Cab
2,5D (120 kW) SE 4×4 manual: R552 000
2,5D (120 kW) SE Plus 4×4 manual: R580 000
2,5D (140 kW) LE 4×4 manual: R660 000
2,5D (140 kW) LE 4×4 auto: R677 000
2,5D (140 kW) PRO-4X 4×4 auto: R740 000