REVIEW |Nissan's all-new Navara ticks all the right boxes

The Nissan Navara.
The Nissan Navara.
Image: Supplied.

For some of us who are not motoring journalists or petrol heads, cracking an invite to the launch of a new vehicle in the market is a rarity.

But when I received an invite two weeks ago to attend the launch of the new Nissan Navara, I found myself constantly asking why these events remain exclusively reserved for motoring journalists.

Perhaps that’s because I was left with a sense envy living their routine experience albeit only for a few hours taking the Nissan Navara made from the manufacturing hub in Rosslyn, outside Pretoria, for a spin.

The big news about the new Navara vehicles which come in a double cab 4x4 pick-up and single cab is that they were all made by a team of locals from start to finish with a little help virtually from the Japanese.

The emergence of the single cab Navara has sounded the death knell for the Nissan NP300 which the Japanese carmaker has decided to discontinue.

I joined a select group of journalists, some of whom were motoring writers of course, at a function held at the ADA Training Centre in Hartbeespoort, North West, to experience the Nissan Navara family range and its capabilities.

I must state that because I am no petrol head, I spent no time analysing the vehicle’s metric unit, torque or measuring fuel efficiency as the day was also too short for this. But I was interested in comfort, convenient features and safety.

The comfort of the car was best felt while driving on the bumpy manmade potholes and humps at the Gerotek centre where vehicles are taken for multiple tests, including suspension, before they are passed for the market. Convenient features inside were in abundance given the scale with which technology keeps on improving, from Bluetooth to touch screen cosmetics. 

Nissan marketing director Stefan Haasbroek said the design of the all-new Navara has focused on four pillars: rugged and tough, utterly capable; value for money with high levels of safety across all models; Nissan’s legendary smart technology; and exceptional drive comfort.

“We recognised that the Navara will be bought both by fleets and by individuals so this is a vehicle that is as useful working on the road during the week as it is for relaxing at the weekend,” said Haasbroek. “It was designed to appeal as much to the man on the building site as it is for the high-flying corporate mom doing the sports run with her kids and living her best life. It literally is built of more.”

The drive experience involved adventure and skills tracks which put to the test the new Nissan Navara’s performance on uphill drive and hill decent control that eases you down a slope without touching brake pedals. There was also the suspension and side slope test and on road drive to give a complete experience of driving.

But before all that, we had to watch how the Navara deals with different terrains such as balancing on three wheels to navigate difficult off-road scenarios which looked impressive.

Yet the most fun part for me was the gravel skid pan, which gave me a practical experience of control of the vehicle in the event of a skid. Although I was slower at times and ended up bumping some cones as I struggled to turn the single-cab bakkie as fast as my brain wanted, one thing learnt was control when dealing with adverse road conditions and the Navara felt great at that.

According to Nissan SA managing director Kabelo Rabotho, Nissan Motor Company invested R3bn to upgrade the Rosslyn plant to become the home of the all-new Navara. Rabotho said the plant created jobs and met an ambitious 40% local content at the start of  production with higher levels expected in future.

The company’s sales director for Sub Saharan Africa, Hide Kuwayana, said the new Nissan Navara was the best they have ever made.

“It hasn’t just been tropicalised, it has a reinforced chassis, the suspension is different and the rollover angle is the best in the market,” he said.

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