WHEN most people hear the term “pick-up truck,” the things that usually come to mind uncomfortable, crude, unrefined, basic, utilitarian, among others.
Nissan, it seems, is out to change all that with the new generation 2015 Nissan NP300 Navara. Let’s see how it gets on.
Personally, this isn’t my first time with the NP300. I was able to test all of the variants of this truck in truck-crazy Thailand last year, and again this year in Ilocos Norte. The thing is, you can only learn so much from spending a day with a vehicle. To truly get to know it, you need to spend a considerable amount of time behind the wheel.
Seeing the new Navara for the first time in the metal, it’s easy to be impressed with the look. It’s no longer a boxy vehicle, thanks to a front-end that looks quite distinguished for a utility vehicle. Nissan used quality details such as the chrome and a matte-gray grill, flanked by a pair of first-in-class LED projector headlamps. Nissan sought a way around the design constrictions of a pickup by using wide arches, car-style tail lamps, a V-motion detail around the Nissan logo and even a detail that resemble a ducktail spoiler that’s really a sill you can sit on.
The 2015 NP300 Navara has also grown in all respects, as Nissan’s new pick-up now measures 5,255 millimeters long (previously 5,230 mm), 1,850 mm wide (previously 1,795 mm) and 1,840 mm tall (previously 1,780 mm). The wheelbase has changed to 3,150 mm (previously 3,200mm). The bed measures in at 1,503 mm x 1,560 mm x 474 mm.
The cabin looks and feels very premium too. Actually it’s so impressive that you could almost swear they lifted it off of a top-spec executive sedan. Ergonomics is quite good, though the horn button on the steering wheel is quite long, making accidental horn activation quite common. The seats make use of fabric upholstery, but it all blends in well with the predominantly black cabin. The front seats are quite remarkable. They’re of the same Zero-G design done in collaboration with NASA for minimal fatigue and maximum comfort on long drives. Rear legroom is also good and the seats are quite plush for a pick-up.
This being the top-spec 4×2 variant, this Navara gets plenty of features all around. The usual power features are there like power windows, mirrors, locks and the like, as well as an AM/FM/CD/MP3 and USB capable audio system. The airconditioning system is still manual, but it does live up to Nissan’s legendary coolness, even when challenged with the country’s extremely hot weather.
The new generation NP300 actually has a carryover engine from the previous generation. Be that as it may, at 163 PS and 403 Nm of torque, we really don’t mind the 2.5-liter CRDI engine wasn’t changed. Top spec variants get the more powerful version that tops out at 190 PS and 450 Nm. This particular version gets a seven-speed automatic gearbox with rear-wheel drive.
Around town the Navara 4×2 is surprisingly comfortable. In fact, it’s more comfortable than other seven-seat SUVs. The reason for that is that unlike other pick-ups in its class, the NP300 Navara actually has double wishbones with coil springs in front and multi-link suspension with coil springs in the rear. To put that in perspective, all of its competitors have the far stiffer leaf-spring rear suspension. The suspension may be softer (read: more comfortable) yet it doesn’t sacrifice the pick- up’s carrying capacity.
The pick-up’s handling, comfort and maneuverability are good for city driving. Potholes are handled with ease and confidence, thanks to the tires, wheels and suspension. Fuel economy is also good, as the Navara returned 8.9 kilometers to the liter in moderate to heavy traffic (20 kilometer per hour average). Consumption also improves on the highway (thanks to the seven-speed auto) to 12.9 kpl under normal driving (89 kph average). Straight-line stability is also good.
Overall, the 2015 Nissan NP300 Navara EL Calibre 4×2 is as impressive as they come, and that’s not even counting the price yet. At P1.108 million, this variant of the Navara makes a compelling case for itself, since it significantly undercuts a top-spec compact car yet offers versatility, ruggedness, ground clearance, toughness, comfort and many more to its list of capabilities.