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Nissan Navara 2.5L Double Cab 4x4: Rugged yet refined recipe

By Ghaith Madadha - Mar 20,2017 - Last updated at Mar 20,2017

Photo courtesy of Ghaith Madadha

Tougher, more refined, capable, efficient and better equipped than ever, the latest generation Nissan Navara 2.5-litre turbodiesel double cab 4x4 pick-up’s appeal as rugged workhorse, utilitarian daily transport and adventure wagon is truly compelling. 

Among the best in a popular and growing mid-size pick-up segment, the diesel-powered Navara and the best among its competitors in fact make a compelling argument as an alternative to more expensive and less capable, if ever-popular SUVs. If perhaps less refined than a similarly sized SUV, the Navara’s fuel-sipping diesel engine and rugged ability and durability, however, instil one with a particular peace of mind and confidence.

 

Improved appeal

 

Known as the NP300 Navara and first launched in 2014 alongside the now outgoing previous generation model, the new Navara has been gradually rolled out to global markets. Arriving in Middle East markets in recent weeks and months, the NP300 Navara is based on a strengthened evolution of its predecessor’s thoroughly well proven and tough boxed ladder frame chassis. Its 48mm shorter wheelbase, and improved ground clearance provide improved on- and off-road agility. Offered with five-link rear suspension for certain markets for improved ride quality and more daily drive appeal, the driven wide-body LE model however featured more traditional and rugged live axle and leaf spring rear suspension.

Designed to convey a greater sense of presence than its predecessor’s restrained and elegantly boxy lines, the NP300 Navara seems larger and more bulging. Integrating Nissan’s contemporary V-motion grille design and flowing along the bonnet, the new Navara is however characterised by a seemingly more high-rise style. Featuring a higher bonnet, the NP300’s pronounced wings help one position it on road through open roads, but reduces visibility in tighter confines, compared with its predecessor. The NP300 also features a higher waistline, with an upward kink at the end of the rear doors. Riding with improved ground clearance and higher waistline, the NP300’s roofline is, however, lower.

 

Efficient and involving

 

Powered by Nissan’s proven 16-valve DOHC 2.5-litre in-line 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine to the tune of 161BHP developed at 3600rpm and a mighty 297lb/ft torque produced at 2000rpm, the Navara’s acceleration is improved, with 0-100km/h arriving in an estimated 11-seconds or so. More important than outright — and officially unavailable — headline figures is the Navara’s welling and generous mid-range torque, which allows for confident muscular, hauling, off-roading and overtaking on the open road. A low-revving engine as all diesel engines, the Navara’s 2.5, however, pulls cleanly and eagerly through its mid-range might and towards its low rev limit, while diesel clatter is less evident than with many rivals.

Driven through a somewhat long-throw 6-speed manual gearbox with precise and intuitive clutch biting point, the Navara instils a greater sense of driver involvement, autonomy and adventure. Working the Navara’s shifter to keep the engine in its sweet spot is a pleasure. At low-end, it is more effective to more gradually lift off the clutch and feed in power and build momentum, to avoid turbo lag from idle, which is typical of any turbodiesel engine given their inherently narrower performance band. Driving the rear wheels during normal conditions for better efficiency, performance and agility, the Navara is quoted as achieving a low 6.6l/100km on the combined cycle.

 

Confident and capable

 

Confident and composed on highway, the Navara digs deep and pulls hard on acceleration, while riding with greater refinement and stability than most of the competition. Comparatively settled and buttoned down for a live axle and leaf spring set-up, the Navara’s drives through imperfect and rutted roads — of paved and unpaved varieties — with ease and comfort. Riding on a rugged suspension design and with tall sidewall 255/70R16 tyres, the Navara well-absorbs rough textures and — and unlike most SUVs — gives one peace of mind in its ability to effortlessly take all the punishment that a neglected countryside backroad can mete out to the tires and suspension. 

With balanced weight distribution, nuanced front double wish bone suspension and rear-wheel-drive engaged, the Navara is eager going into corners and agile for a rugged workhorse. Steering is refined and accurate, if tall-geared, while body roll is well contained for its segment. Exiting corners at a brisk pace is however a more delicate matter owing to its commercial vehicle rear underpinnings, with slight axle hop as expected, and bounce if power is too aggressively fed in. However, the Navara is well-equipped and features a vigilant electronic stability control system, and electronic brakeforce distribution keeping it level and complementing effective ventilated disc front and rear drum anti-lock brakes.

 

Off-road ability

 

A thoroughly capable off-road vehicle capable negotiating various treacherous terrain with confident ease, the Navara is sized well for even narrow and easily accessible trails. Its off-road hardware suite includes full-time four-wheel drive in regular direct ratio or low 2.717:1 ratio when more power needs to be deployed at a crawling pace. For low-traction surfaces the Navara features a locking rear differential to keep both wheels turning in unison and limited-slip centre differential to send power where needed. With high 229mm ground clearance, the Navara and generous approach, break-over and departure angles, and electronic hill descent control and hill start assistance, for good measure.

 

In addition to its generous cargo, loading and towing capacities, the new Navara boast a spacious double cabin accommodating five occupants, with easy access. It is spacious in all directions despite the shorter roofline and wheelbase, and with good front and side visibility, despite a higher waistline. Meanwhile rear parking sensors (and optional rearview monitor) help with manoeuvrability. Finished in durable good quality fabric, soft textures, piano black and metallic trim, the Navara’s cabin is pleasant and refined. Well-equipped with convenience features, the Navara LE HR specification driven came with remote central locking, climate control and CD sound system with USB and Bluetooth connectivity.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

 

Engine: 2.5-litre, in-line, common-rail turbo-diesel, 4-cylinders

Bore x stroke: 89 x 100mm

Compression ratio: 15.1:1

Valve-train: 16-valve, DOHC

Gearbox: 6-speed manual, four-wheel-drive

Driveline: low gear transfer, locking rear & optional limited-slip centre differentials

Gear ratios: 1st 4.685:1; 2nd 2.478:1; 3rd 1.623:1; 4th 1.207:1; 5th 1.0:1; 6th 0.808:1

Reverse/final drive: 4.709:1/3.538:1

High/low range: 1:1/2.717:1

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 161 (163) [120] @3600rpm

Specific power: 64.7BHP/litre

Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 297 (403) @2000rpm

Specific torque: 162Nm/litre

0-100km/h: approximately 11-seconds

Fuel consumption, combined: 6.62-litres/100km

Fuel capacity: 80-litres

Length: 5336mm

Width: 1850mm

Height: 1808mm

Wheelbase: 3150mm

Overhang, F/R: 878/1308mm

Aerodynamic drag co-efficiency: 0.37

Minimum ground clearance: 229mm

Approach angle: 32.2°

Break-over angle: 23.7°

Departure angle: 26.5°

Kerb weight: 1925kg (est.)

Towing capacity: 3500kg

Suspension, F/R: Double wishbones, coilovers/leaf springs, live axle

Steering: Power-assisted rack & pinion

Turning circle: 12.4-metres

Brakes, F/R: Ventilated discs/drums

Tyres: 255/70R16

 

Price, 2WD starting from/4WD, as driven: JD22,000/JD28,000

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