The head of Nissan in Australia says the Navara’s mid-cycle refresh is significant enough to see it “step ahead” of its bakkie rivals.

Nissan Australian managing director Stephen Lester suggested to the facelifted Navara would soon climb the sales charts.

“I think it is a fantastic package. From a design standpoint, you are talking a whole front-end [and] a whole rear-end. You’re talking [increased] bed height, all the safety features [and] interior design. So it’s a massive movement for a mid-cycle change,” he pointed out.

While Lester conceded many of the Japanese bakkie’s rivals – such as the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 – had also recently either been updated or completely overhauled, he claimed the Navara would “step ahead” in many ways.

“Yes, some of them have [seen] dramatic improvements, but now I think in a lot of ways our Navara is stepping back ahead.”

The recently unveiled D23-generation Navara facelift includes a fresh Pro-4X trim level, a “strengthened” rear axle, an increased payload capacity, additional load-bed volume, extra safety kit and ostensibly improved refinement levels.

The company plans to start building the updated bakkie right here in South Africa in 2021. In April 2019, Nissan SA announced it would begin producing the Navara bakkie for local and export markets at its Rosslyn plant in Pretoria.

The R3-billion investment will see the Navara added to the production line alongside the NP300 Hardbody and half-tonne NP200, with more volume likely coming South Africa’s way thanks to Nissan's decision to close its Barcelona plant (which also builds the Navara) in the near future. That also means we can expect a broader range of Navara body styles to be offered locally, from single- to double-cab variants.