Best Bakkie 2022 Finalist: Nissan Navara 2.5DDTi DC Pro-2X

Nissan’s Navara is one of three vehicles here that can claim to be new. Well almost – it’s more of a major facelift, or an evolution, rather than revolution. But in a bakkie, that seems new enough. The forthcoming Ranger is an evo too, as are the current Hilux and Triton. Still, the new Nissan brings enhanced style, comfort, safety, and driving pleasure.

Navara is big news for South Africa

‘Made in Africa for Africans’, the upgraded Nissan is also South Africa’s latest locally built bakkie. Representing a 3 billion rand investment, this global Navara borrows the full size US Titan pickup styling cues. And it really looks the part. Our red Pro 2X’s imposing black grille, red Nissan badges and Bi-LED headlights with C-shaped daytime running lights looks mega. And that tailgate and those taillights add an even tougher stance.

Moving inside, a smaller multifunction steering wheel sits ahead of a wide colour display dash with a smart rev counter and the speedometer. Add fresh Apple Carplay and Android Auto multimedia with additional USB points including a new C socket.

Best of all, those cross-stitched black leather seats don’t just look like they fell out of a Lambo, but they’re also more comfortable than before. The rest of the cabin’s cheap feel however lets some of the fancy finishes down. And we found the infotainment a tad troublesome – the audio did not work.

Then what’s the point of four-by-four?

Based on the previous platform, new Navara however employs a less sophisticated if allegedly equally strong 140 kW 450 Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel. Impressive in 4×4 incarnation, this sweeter, quicker and more frugal rear-wheel drive 2.5DDTi DC Pro-2X is cheaper too. Let’s face it – how often, if ever will you go far enough off road to warrant selecting four-wheel drive. Never mind low range? If you don’t, what’s the point of four wheel drive?

Not only does it add weight and drag to steal performance, fuel consumption and feel. But 4×4 adds a sixty grand premium too. One feels this 4×2 version’s nimbler demeanour immediately. Enhanced perhaps by its coil sprung live axle rear end. It’s now even more supple and communicative. And we found Navara’s 7-speed autobox a pleasure.

It may be lighter and quicker than the 4×4. But Pro-2X’s 10.8 second 0-100 km/h is however a tad tardy. Of course, that saving in mass and mechanical drag still comes through right across the board. It uses less fuel, carries a 25 kg heavier load and still pulls a 3.5-ton braked trailer.

NAVARA Plusses and minuses

All in all, the re-imagined Nissan Navara brought a conundrum of plusses and minuses to the Best Bakkie table. Ours was let down by a few glitches, its downspec engine proved slower than the previous 4x2s we tested and some of the finishes still let it down. That said, it certainly looks the part inside and out, carries and tows a good load and it’s a big plus for South Africa too.

Nissan Navara 2.5DDTi DC Pro-2X
Engine: 140 kW 450 Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 7-speed auto 4x2
Payload:          1035 kg
Towing Capacity:  3500 kg
0-100 km/h:       10.81 sec
0-400m:           17/8 sec @ 125 km/h
80-120 km/h:      8.45 sec
Fuel:             8.1 l/100km
CO2:              214 g/km
Warranty/Service: 6y 150K/6y 90K km
PRICE:            R699K
Best Bakkie 2022 Index
Ford Ranger 2.0bT DC 4x4 Stormtrak
GWM P Series 2.0TD DC LT 4x4
Mahindra Pik Up 2.2 CRDe DC 4x4
Mazda BT-50 1.9TD DC Active A
Mitsubishi Triton 2.4DI-D DC 4x4
Nissan Navara 2.5DDTi DC PRO-2X
Toyota Hilux 2.8GD-6 DC 4x4 Legend RS A
Best Bakkie Top 3
Best Bakkie 2022 Winner
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