•.Nissan's new Navara will soon go on sale in South Africa.
• For the local market, Nissan SA adopted the previous generation's 2.5-litre diesel engine.
• The new Navara is proudly built in South Africa.
• For more motoring stories, go to Wheels24
Wheels24 was invited with a select few motoring media to spend a few days with the new Nissan Navara, so let's just get into it immediately.
Yes, the bakkie has just been revealed in other markets, and yes, underneath the mild camo, our test mule is pretty much identical to those. But the one I'm driving is built-in Rosslyn, Pretoria, and has been designed with our land's unique set of surfaces firmly in mind. Now, shall we broach the fundamentals?
There are three main differences here, besides the tougher aesthetic that pumps up the overall presence of the car. I'm referring to the ride and handling, which have been notably improved. It's more comfortable on the highway, where its upgraded NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) dampening further enhances the overall refinement of the Navara.
Significant suspension improvements
But whoops, I've skipped ahead when we're not entirely done with the new suspension. And it is new, as in fresh dual-rate springs and geometry versus the single rate items on the old car. As a result, the Navara can pulverize your local shopping centre's kerbs, and your Fitbit will barely register it as one of your daily steps. I'm embellishing somewhat, but it is a significant improvement over what came before, with a dampened impact where it previously flattened out harshly over bumps.
OPINION | A month of driving bakkies, including the not-yet released SA-built Nissan Navara
I know this is a test mule, but I see no reason why this won't translate directly into the production car, in which case, I'm going to draw a line in the sand and say that it is my humble opinion that this double-cab's suspension is sublime, if not a standout feature. I enjoyed an extended test period after 200km of suburban tar, pristine highway asphalt, rutted rural roads and ultimately on dusty and gravel farm networks of the far North.
Do you think Nissan's new Navara has what it takes to rival SA's most popular bakkie, the Hilux? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
New 'old' engine
And then secondly, and this is the slightly controversial one. Nissan has reverted to the Spanish engine of its predecessor, the YD25. Why go from a twin-turbo 2.3-litre diesel to an older single-turbo 2.5-litre? Nissan's stance isn't revolutionary, rather pragmatic. It's more robust in the context of, well, this is Africa. The YD25 is a proven factor, bulletproof and developed to the nth. The kilowatts and Newton metres remain similar at 140kW and 450Nm, but during my drive, conducted back-to-back with the car it replaces, I noticed a more linear acceleration from the new 'old' engine.
This is, in fact, the first marriage between this engine and the predecessor's seven-speed automatic transmission and makes for quite the happy union. Maybe now's a good time to reiterate that the NVH has been invested in, making for a quieter cabin. Speaking of which, the dark interior of the PRO4X model I was driving was well appointed and suitably updated with technology and connectivity. The overall user experience feels more upmarket, which, if I'm honest, it needs to be in the face of ever-improving rivals.
Navara 2WD - Double Cab
Navara 2.5D SE 4X2 MT DC - R474 000
Navara 2.5D SE 4X2 AT DC - R498 000
Navara 2.5D SE Plus 4X2 MT DC - R505 000
Navara 2.5D SE Plus 4X2 AT DC - R528 000
Navara 2.5D LE 4X2 AT DC - R606 000
Navara 2.5D PRO-2X 4X2 AT DC- R686 000
Navara 4WD - Double Cab
Navara 2.5D SE 4X4 MT DC - R552 000
Navara 2.5D SE Plus 4X4 MT DC - R580 000
Navara 2.5D LE 4X4 MT DC - R660 000
Navara 2.5D LE 4X4 AT DC - R677 000
Navara 2.5D PRO-4X 4X4 AT DC - R740 000
Navara 2WD - Single Cab
Navara 2.5 Petrol XE 4X2 MT SC - R311 000
Navara 2.5D XE 4X2 MT SC - R350 000
Navara 2.5D SE 4X2 MT SC - R426 000
Navara 2.5D LE 4X2 MT SC - R456 000
Navara 4WD - Single Cab
Navara 2.5D 4X4 SE MT SC - R492 000
Navara 2.5D 4X4 LE MT SC - R527 000
Price includes a 6-year or 90 000km service plan and a 6-year or 150 000km warranty.