Nissan’s beefed-up bakkie

Nissan's double-cab leisure bakkie, the Navara Stealth, is currently imported. It will be coming off the local production line in late 2020, along with the rest of the Navara model line-up. (Photo: Supplied)
Nissan's double-cab leisure bakkie, the Navara Stealth, is currently imported. It will be coming off the local production line in late 2020, along with the rest of the Navara model line-up. (Photo: Supplied)

Double-cabs used to be rare beasts, compared with the single-cab variety. But whether single-cab or double-cab, bakkies were no-frills, no-fuss workhorses and their owners were predominantly farmers and small businesses.

There are a lot more frills nowadays. And an increasing number of double-cab owners are sporting suits and ties rather than veldskoene.

The double-cab bakkie has evolved as a premium family car and leisure vehicle. Its continuing popularity is assuring it a place among the country’s top-selling vehicles.

So, when Nissan launched its Navara Stealth, I was eager to get behind the wheel.

The double-cab leisure bakkie – currently imported into the country – will start coming off the local production line in late 2020 together with the rest of the Navara model line-up.

This premium double-cab is available in 4x2 and 4x4 configuration with either manual or automatic transmission. All models come with a robust 2.3-litre twin turbo diesel engine.

finweek found much to like in the Navara Stealth two-wheel drive, 7-speed automatic.    

Outer view

Modelled on the Nissan Navara luxury edition, the new Nissan Navara Stealth has been the recipient of design updates – albeit cosmetic – that make this premium double-cab even more rugged and distinctive looking.

There’s little chrome detailing on this macho bakkie. Black trim is the order of the day, featuring on the grille, roll-bar, roof rails, antennae, alloy wheels and mudflaps. Fog lights, LED headlights and daytime running lights feature on its face. Chunky wheel arches, rear spoiler and dollops of orange accents on the front bumper, side mirrors and side steps, contribute to a very handsome bakkie.

Double-cab comfort

Orange accents continue in the cabin, the Stealth’s exceptionally comfortable and form-fitting seats featuring black leather side bolsters with orange stitching and orange and black patterned fabric inserts. 

This rugged four-door on- and off-roader is spacious, able to comfortably accommodate five with good leg and headroom. The crisp cabin is uncluttered and well-constructed with simple instrumentation and switchgear, durable plastic trim and chrome accents. Leather also makes an appearance on the steering wheel, gear leaver and handbrake.

No premium vehicle would be complete without the vast array of infotainment offerings, and the Stealth does not disappoint. Standard fare includes a touchscreen colour display, navigation, CD player and radio with six speakers, USB connectivity and Bluetooth hands-free phone system, cruise control, drive-assist display and rear-view mirror with electric anti-dazzle and compass.

Also standard are remote keyless entry, power windows, heated seats (works a charm), tilt-adjustable steering column and a rear sliding window that opens or closes at the push of a button; perfect for a cool breeze. Storage offerings include a sunglasses holder in the overhead console.

Just about anything can be loaded in this premium bakkie. And with a 3.5-tonne braked towing capability you can haul just about anything too.

Piloting the Stealth

The Stealth’s side step makes it easy to enter this high rider and sink into its seriously comfy seats. Notwithstanding its workhorse ability, it’s a comfortable journey both on- and off-road, the leisure-cab’s suspension tweaked to offer a more sophisticated ride.

Despite feeling that it lacked just a tad in the grunt department, power delivery from the 2.3-litre twin-turbo is gutsy and gearing from the 7-speed automatic gearbox is seamless. The Stealth gets a thumbs up for its precise power steering that also provides good road feedback.

On the road this arresting bakkie is mostly planted. The back end does however have a tendency to be somewhat twitchy around sharp corners and rutted road surfaces…but that’s without a load. Industry peers however convinced me of added grippiness when laden.

The two-wheel drive Stealth copes exceedingly well in the rough. The 18-inch tyres and independent double-wishbone front suspension, front stabiliser bar and 5-link coil rear suspension absorbs all the challenges that ungraded gravel roads, dirt tracks and dongas offer up. The Stealth’s hill start assist and hill descent control also came in handy, aiding traction when navigating steep rises and drops.

Even reversing this beefy high-rider is trouble-free thanks to the standard reverse camera and reverse sensors.

The Nissan Navara Stealth is good to look at. And it’s functional, versatile and high riding. It’s a tough bakkie, yet a very comfortable ride and an enjoyable and easy drive. The many bells and whistles offered with this premium vehicle add significantly to its appeal.

Locals love their bakkies, especially premium double-cabs like the Stealth. That said, the Stealth has formidable locally built rivals in the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max all vying for an increasingly expanding leisure market.

nissan navara

This article originally appeared in the 15 August edition of finweek. Buy and download the magazine here or subscribe to our newsletter here. 

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