Navara LE

We test well stacked, less brazen Navara LE. It’s big news for South Africa too.

Nissan’s Navara is all new. Well, almost – it’s more of a major facelift, or and evolution, rather than revolution. But that now seems enough in a bakkie. The forthcoming Ranger is an evo, as are the current Hilux and Triton. Still, this ‘new’ Nissan brings enhanced style, comfort, safety, and driving pleasure.

ProudlY South AfricaN

‘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. It looks the part, but this is the Navara for those who don’t think they’re Batman. The LE 4×4 is far less imposing then the Pro-4X, but it still looks mega. It has a smart chrome framed grille, shiny Nissan gong and Bi-LED headlights with C-shaped DRLs.

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 the fell out of a Lambo. They’re also more comfortable. The rest of the cabin has some fancy finishes, but it’s let down by a cheap feel in places. We also found the infotainment a tad challenging versus some of the kit out there. Not that it doesn’t do the job.

Why LE it called a 2.5?

Based on the previous platform, new Navara also continues with the 140 kW 450 Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel. Not sure why its a less sophisticated 2.5 this time around, but still. Impressive in butch premium Pro-4X incarnation, this all-wheel drive 2.5DDTi DC LE is cheaper and a little more ordinary. Some may baulk at those blacked out Pro versions, so this old school chrome finished bakkie should find favour with owners who have a more traditional tastes.

Of course, this one carries a little 4×4 baggage. Perfect if you’re going on expeditions to far flung places. Or will climb rocky crags and traverse muddy plugs. If not, save the 70 grand and go for the nimbler 4×2 LE. That version will do the town bakkie job far better. Enhanced perhaps by its coil sprung live axle rear end, Navara is now even more supple and communicative. And we found its 7-speed autobox a pleasure.

The 4×2 version is lighter and quicker than the 4×4. This one’s 11.1 second 0-100 km/h is a few tenths off the already slightly tardy 4×4. Some similar capacity or even smaller rivals are over a second quicker to 100. The 4×4 also uses a little more fuel, carries a 25 kg less load than the 4×2 and pulls the same 3.5-ton braked trailer as its rear-driven kin.

A conundrum of plusses and minuses

All in all, the re-imagined Nissan Navara brings a conundrum of plusses and minuses to the double-cab bakkie table. Ours was slower than the previous 4x4s we tested. And some of its finishes still let it down. That said, it certainly looks the part inside and out, even in this less bombastic get-up, it carries and tows a good load and packs a great warranty and service plan. And it’s a big plus for South Africa too. – Michele Lupini

Test & images: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Nissan Navara 2.5DDTi double cab LE 4x4
Engine: 140 kW 450 Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel I4
Drive: 7-speed auto 4x4
Payload:          1010 kg
Towing Capacity:  3500 kg
0-60 km/h:        4.98 sec
0-100 km/h:       11.11 sec
0-120 km/h:       16.02 sec
0-160 km/h:       32.81 sec
400m:             17.8 sec @ 125 km/h
80-120 km/h:      8.45 sec
120-160 km/h      16.78 sec
Vmax:             180 km/h
Fuel:             8.1 l/100km
CO2:              214 g/km
Warranty/Service: 6y 150K/6y 90K km
PRICE:            R682K
RATED:            7
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