You might perhaps have to buy a MPV (Multi-Purpose Vehicle) for a more comprehensive identity as Daddy, or you get a bakkie.
The former vehicle will give the impression that the big arm of your biological clock is still in rude health but you will soon forget the definition of driving pleasure. The bakkie though, especially the double cab, is making more sense for a lot more people with each day that passes.
Ford is having a proper go at it; ditto Mitsubishi with its lit Triton and lately Mazda’s stellar and fresh-faced BT-50. It may be a feint recollection to many but the fact is, it was Nissan – that most versatile and unpredictable of Japanese brands that can strike it hot with cars like the GT-R and 370Z or come up with eyesores like the Almera and Sentra – who are the creators of the passenger car-like double bakkie. With the classy and refined drive quality inherent in that first generation Navara, Nissan forever changed the complexion of the mule-class into a widely appealing segment with the most extraordinary scope of functionality, and despite the advances in bakkie land, it is fair to expect the genesis to have moved the goalposts once more. With that in mind, it had better be good. We’ve just driven our first 500 kilometers testing the latest Navara.
They’ve certainly glammed it up. This is unquestionable. Much of the wide, boxy and beefy metrosexuality is retained and with more chrome and a new tenderness added to its profile, it’s going to get you noticed. The inside too follows in ethos in that much emphasis is placed on an executive look and good feel textures. And the cabin is quite massive too but are there any new innovations in there? Err…if you discount the diesel particulate filter button, then it’s a Nay! However, it looks set to win the standard specifications war as many of the usual gadgets are worked into the base price, with only heated leather-clad seats mentioned as an option in LE models.
Mechanically it breaks a few boundaries; the first being the use of a single engine line up of a Biturbo diesel. The engine will have high and low power derivatives and at launch, it’s only 4×4 double cab in either 6-speed manual or 7-speed auto in SE and LE trim. Power is rated at 140kW at 3740rpm and torque is 450Nm from 1500rpm; enviable numbers from a 2.3-litre four-cylinder block. The other new frontier is independent double-wishbone front suspension; famously used by luxury car brands to minimise rogue imbalances and tailor in sharpness and comfort. And last, but certainly significant, is that Nissan has vanquished the leaf-spring from its rear suspension. In its place is a new complex multi-link coil system which the company says refines the overall ride quality. Load capacity for the new car is said to be 1002kg with a towing capacity of 3500kg
A five hundred kilometer trip is bound to show off the good, bad and ugly of any car in clarity and so beginning with the good; the engine has robust thrust and on the straights, it cruises like the cushy bakkie we’ve come to know and love. The standard kit list is generous and it still looks badass!
The bad surely begins with not enough cabin insulation thus even the diesel engine clutter finds its way into the cabin; and its overall size still makes it an intimidating thing to weave through fast and narrow roads. It wallows at high speeds and seemingly now riding higher, it’s remains a long vehicle end-to-end and it looks in no way ready to handle anything beyond level 3 off-road tracks. The break-over angle is still suspect.
The ugly can only come out from a dark place in the unknown and to maintain a turbo motor is already a chilling thought for rocket high repair costs. To fix a pair, well, that is an absolute mind-bender. The last bit of ugly is the loss of the proven toughness of leaf springs and the jury has still not convened on deciding whether its new 5-link thingiemajik will handle punishing loads and for how long.
In the meantime, the fundamentals of a good bakkie are there, yet the idea of the Navara being the best bakkie in the segment sadly hasn’t quite been realised. But at least we know they gave it a good try, delaying the car for close to two years in the process to ensure that it’s suitable and satisfying to our demanding and passionately knowledgeable bakkie buyers. As per the reply, I gave to a Nissan big-wig who wanted my initial thought after driving 500 clicks in the car; its close, but no cigar!
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 SE Double Cab MT – R514 900 (incl. VAT)
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 LE Double Cab –MT – R565 900 (incl. VAT)
Nissan Navara 2.3 DDT 4×4 LE Double Cab AT –R597 900 (incl. VAT)