While not the biggest market in the world, Australia is seen as a trendsetter in sports utility vehicle performance development globally. So when the Nissan local team went to HQ with a request to upgrade the Navara ute, bosses were all ears.
The result is the MY18 Nissan Navara, which was tried and tested extensively in, and exclusively for, conditions Down Under by Nissan ute experts from around the world. Upgrades apply to Dual Cab SL, ST and ST-X variants in the Australasian market.
Particular attention was paid to ride and handling with a new dual-rate rear spring system. Also, the steering ratio on Dual Cab SL, ST and ST-X was modified to make the Navara more manoeuvrable.
Three cabin styles are now on offer, including the Single Cab, King Cab and the most popular, the Dual Cab. There are 27 Pickup and eight Cab Chassis options and 10 4×2 and 25 4×4 variants.
There’s a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission, the latter with a manual mode.
While prices generally remain unchanged, eight of the variants carry increases between $200 and $500, reflecting additional gear that is now standard. Pricing for Single Cab starts at $25,990, King Cabs come from $28,490 and the Dual Cab from $33,490.
On test was a Nissan Navara ST 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel, seven-speed automatic 4×4, Dual Cab Pickup at $49,690, plus on-road costs.
This was down to giving the Navara a sportier look without wiping out its Nissan DNA – a balance between its tough truck heritage and modern sports utility vehicle.
This is illustrated by Nissan’s signature V-motion motif flowing via the sculpted bonnet into the front guards, a body-coloured bumper, chrome grille and trapezoidal foglamps.
Boomerang shaped lamps and daytime running lights integrate with a side profile that gives a more premium look to the vehicle profile. The ST Dual Cab carries an aerodynamic spoiler and a high mounted stop light can easily be seen from behind.
Cabin focus in the ST is a 7-inch colour touchscreen, which includes satellite navigation with 3-D mapping. A unique feature is a rear power glass window operated from a switch on the dashboard, offering a long reach into the tub and increased cabin ventilation.
Seating maintains a high level of comfort in varying conditions on and off road, while three rear seats strike a balance between leg room and body angle for maximum space. Storage consists of standard size cup holders and flip-up seating.
Bluetooth hands-free phone system is connected via steering wheel controls. Also on tap are Bluetooth audio streaming, cruise control, power windows and air-conditioning.
Further information is available through Nissan’s advanced driver assist, which includes average speed, fuel and driving economy, turn-by-turn sat nav instructions, audio info and vehicle settings.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
Across the range, power is supplied by one of two engines, the most popular being the 2.3-litre four-cylinder intercooled twin-turbo diesel with 140 kW of power at a low 3750 rpm, and 450 Nm of torque between 1500 and 2500 revs.
There’s a choice of a six-speed manual or a seven-speed automatic transmission, the latter with manual mode.
The 2018 Navara has also upped the ante in safety with technology updates including a 360 degree Around View monitor, standard on ST-X grades, second row IsoFix child seat mounting points, on all Dual Cabs, and rear-view cameras are now available on all Pickup variants, while satellite navigation has been added to King Cab ST.
It’s worth shouting about but the new Nissan Navara is as smooth and quiet as any light truck and is better than most.
The placid pick-up is a far cry from previous iterations of the popular workhorse, which Nissan would be the first to admit to being rather agricultural in character. Not that the new chum is a shrinking violet.
Initiated by Nissan Australia, tested extensively in, and exclusively for, conditions Down Under by company Nissan ute experts from around the world, it was stacked up against its main rivals, the Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger and Holden Colorado.
Ride and handling came in for attention with a new dual-rate rear spring system incorporating an integrated lower and higher spring rate that comes up with a comfortable ride unladen or with a light payload and allows heavier loads to be hauled without compromise in ride and handling, the last especially when towing up to 3500 kg.
Also, steering ratio on Dual Cab ST was reduced from 21.5:1 to 19.0:1, so the steering wheel is turned less to get the angle, or degree of turn, from the wheels, while lock-to-lock steering wheel turns have been cut from 4.1 to 3.4, both making the Navara more manoeuvrable.
The Navara boasts class-leading fuel consumption figures from 6.5 litres per 100 kilometres on the combined urban / highway cycle. On test, the ST came up with 11.4 litres per 100 kilometres in town and 5.8 litres per 100 kilometres in highway running.
Something to look forward to is that from June production, all Navara SL, ST and ST-X models will feature a digital speedometer included in the instrument cluster, and tie-down hook points have been either increased in number or re-positioned to help secure loads.
The third update of the present generation Navara has put the ute back in the paddock of the best in breed, while the ST Dual Cab should go some way to maintaining its place as the most popular variant with its sub-$50K sticker.
AT A GLANCE
NAVARA MODEL RANGE
DX 4×4 6MT Cab Chassis $31,990
RX 4×2 6MT Cab Chassis $25,990
RX 4×4 6MT Cab Chassis $32,990
RX 4×4 7AT Cab Chassis $35,490
RX 4×2 6MT Cab Chassis $28,490
RX 4×4 6MT Cab Chassis $35,490
RX 4×4 6MT Pickup $37,290
ST 4×4 6MT Pickup $43,990
ST 4×4 7AT Pickup $46,490
ST-X 4×4 6MT Pickup $49,990
ST-X 4×4 7AT Pickup $52,490
RX 4×2 6MT Pickup $33,490
RX 4×2 7AT Pickup $35,990
ST 4×2 6MT Pickup $40,190
ST 4×2 7AT Pickup $42,690
ST-X 4×2 6MT Pickup $44,990
ST-X 4×2 7AT Pickup $47,490
RX 4×4 6MT Cab Chassis $38,490
RX 4×4 7AT Cab Chassis $40,990
RX 4×4 7AT Pickup $42,990
SL 4×4 6MT Pickup $43,990
SL 4×4 7AT Pickup $46,490
ST 4×4 6MT Pickup $47,190
ST 4×4 7AT Pickup $49,690
ST-X 4×4 6MT Pickup $51,990
ST-X 4×4 7AT Pickup $54,490
Leather Seat Option $1500 – Leather accented door trim, leather accented seats, 8-way power driver’s seat with lumbar support, heated front seats
Sunroof Option $1000 – Tilt and slide electric sunroof
Premium paint $550
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Nissan dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Nissan Navara ST 2.3-litre four-cylinder twin-turbo diesel, 7sp automatic 4×4, Dual Cab Pickup)
Capacity: 2.298 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 140 kW @ 3750 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1500-2500 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 186 g/km
DRIVELINE: Seven-speed automatic, dual range 4×4 with electronic 4WD selection
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 5255 mm
Wheelbase: 3150 mm
Width: 1850 mm
Height: 1825 mm
Turning Circle: 12.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1942 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 km