Since the glory days of the Land Rover Defender, pickups have always been downright workhorses, and their characteristics revolved around the sole purpose of their existence – to move things and sometimes, people. So, they only appealed to those who needed their services.
However, towards the end of the 1990s, manufacturers began positioning pickup trucks as something more hip and lifestyle oriented, in an effort to sell them to those who didn’t need them. A couple of good examples of ‘lifestyle’ pickups include the Ford Ranger Splash and the Mitsubishi Storm L200.
But the model which took things to a whole new level was the fourth generation Mitsubishi Triton. Truth be told, it was nothing like the world had ever seen. Although it took some time for people to get used to it, many ended up falling in love with it as it looked way ahead of its time, and felt more comfortable than expected.
And so, it began – The trend of people buying pickup trucks for its form instead of the function.
Realising this, manufacturers started giving more priority to the design and comfort aspects of pickup trucks, but it had to be done without compromising the off-roading abilities. This resulted in the birth of a new generation of 4x4s that are better looking and more comfortable than ever before.
Now that pickup trucks with car-like characteristics are all the rage, almost every model in the market is transforming, including the truck you're looking at now - the all-new Navara.
Engine: 2.5-litre, in-line 4-cylinder, DOHC 16-valves with VGS
Max Power: 163hp at 3,600rpm
Max Torque: 403Nm at 2,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Safety Features: Dual airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, VDC, Traction Control, ISOFIX, rear view camera, Hill Start Assist (HAS), and Hill Descent Control (HDC)
Origin: Imported from Thailand
Fitted with many new features, the new all-new Navara, which is being fully imported from Thailand, is offered in six variants locally, which are:
- Navara manual single cab (RM79,000)
- Navara double cab E manual (RM89,800)
- Navara SE manual (RM97,800)
- Navara SE Automatic (RM102,800)
- Navara V (RM109,800)
- Navara VL (RM120,800)
(All models are offered with a three-year or 100,000 km warranty)
Powering all variants is the same 2.5-litre YD25DDTi four-cylinder turbodiesel engine that is found in the outgoing model, which produces 163hp and 403 Nm of torque. However, the range-topping VL variant gets a tuned version of the same mill which kicks out 190hp and 450Nm of maximum torque. The main highlight about the new Navara is that it uses multi-link coil spring suspension in the rear instead of leaf springs. In fact, it is the first Japanese pickup truck in Malaysia to do so.
The biggest difference between the new Navara and the outgoing D40 in terms of looks is that it appears to be less menacing now, thanks to the smaller front grille, and the slightly curvier silhouette. The new design did not only contribute towards better overall appearance, but also better aerodynamics.
Measuring at 5,255mm long, 1,850mm wide and 1,785mm tall with a wheelbase of 3,150mm, the NP300 is just as wide as the outgoing model at 1,850mm, but the overall length has decreased by 5mm. The truck's wheelbase is also shorter by 50mm. The height however, has increased by 5mm.
Dimensions aside, the all-new Navara comes with a few features worth mentioning, such as the halogen daytime running lights, the rear ‘ducktail’ spoiler, the flared wheel arches, a reverse camera, as well as the side steps.
The unit which we tested however came with some additional goodies like the Pro-Form Tango bootlid set comprising a bootlid and a sport bar. The optional kit, which is imported fully from New Zealand, is available for ‘only’ RM7,950.
Overall, the Navara is still boxy, but it looks more modern and still has the ruggedness of its predecessor.
This is where the Navara has improved the most. Alongside the ‘Zero Gravity’ seats like the one in the X-Trail SUV and the freshly designed dashboard, many components from Nissan’s passenger cars have been put to use in the Navara’s cabin in order to make it more comfortable than before. Did it work? Absolutely.
Yes, hard plastic is everywhere but the cabin doesn’t look or feel cheap at all. The seats provided good level of comfort for occupants of all shapes and sizes. Practicality has also come miles ahead, with the inclusion of features like rear cup-holders, rear air-cond vents, the generous amount of cubby holes and small storage compartments, keyless entry and push-start ignition.
Noise, vibration, and harshness level has improved a lot from the outgoing model, but there is still a lot of room for improvement as the engine noise while driving could still be heard, very loud and clear.
How is it to drive?
As impressive as the aforementioned output figures looked on paper, the Navara felt a tad sluggish compared to its rivals like the Mitsubishi Triton and the Ford Ranger. On highways, we had to work the engine really hard in order to get it up to speed. In the city, however, the amount of power delivered adequate.
One feature that sets the NP300 apart from its rivals is the seven-speed automatic gearbox with manual override feature. Truth be told, the transmission is arguably the smoothest in class at the moment, feeling almost car-like.
In terms of handling, there was still notable amount of body-roll. So, as much as Nissan claims that the Navara is similar to a car, the truck should not be thrown around corners at high-speed.
Comfort wise, there is no denying the fact that the new Navara exceeded our expectations. The Zero-Gravity seats offered good support, and hugged us well throughout our stint with the pickup, even while off-roading. Adding to the comfort were the rear air-cond vents, keeping rear occupants cool at all time.
Speaking of off-roading, the new Navara had no issues in tackling the beaten track. Now that there are additional driving aids like the Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Hill Start Assist (HSA), off-roading has become a much easier and more enjoyable task than before.
On the road, the Navara still falls short behind the Triton and the Ranger in terms of refinement and handling, but during off-roading is when it really came to life proved itself to be a worthy contender. The new multi-link suspension did a brilliant job in absorbing all the bumps and lumps, and according to Nissan, the Navara can carry up to a ton of load without any issues.
How economical is it?
Throughout our stint with the new Navara, we clocked an average fuel consumption of 9-litres/100km, which was slightly more than the claimed 7-litres/100km (combined), probably because we spent most of our time driving the truck in the city. Nissan also claims that the truck is 11 per cent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model.
In case you’re wondering how much it would cost to service the NP300 Navara, it should cost similar to the outgoing D40 which uses the same engine, for which Edaran Tan Chong Motor has calculated the servicing and maintenance costs for the truck done at their authorised service centres.
For the first 100,000km, the owner has to fork out roughly RM6,794, according to the service interval breakdown as follows:
- 1,000km - RM177.18
- 5,000km - RM174.37
- 10,000km - RM379.11
- 15,000km - RM231.61
- 20,000km - RM370.97
- 30,000km - RM504.19
- 40,000km - RM1113.90
- 50,000km - RM379.11
- 60,000km - RM696.05
- 70,000km - RM379.11
- 80,000km - RM1113.90
- 90,000km - RM504.19
- 100,000km - RM570.97
Standard safety features in the Navara NP300 V spec include:
- Dual airbags
- ABS with EBD & BA
- Vehicle Dynamic Control
- Traction Control
- Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS)
- Hill Start Assis
- Hill Descent Control
- ISOFIX mounts
- Rear view camera
- Keyless entry with Push start ignition
Unlike the outgoing model, the new Navara is more about comfort, which explains why the biggest highlight is the inclusion of a multi-link rear suspension, replacing the leaf-spring. In fact, the Navara is now the first Japanese pickup truck to come with multi-link dampers.
Even inside the cabin, comfort has been given the utmost priority. Fitted with Zero Gravity-Inspired seats similar to the ones found only in Nissan passenger cars, dual zone air-conditioning with rear vents, and a more car-like dashboard, the Navara’s interior is almost similar to an SUV. The rear vents and the seats are in fact, features that are first in class.
Overall, the Nissan NP300 Navara is very different from its predecessor. What was once designed to be a true workhorse, has now transformed into a more comfort-oriented pickup truck. However, the vehicle did not compromise any of its off-roading abilities, and still is an ideal workhorse.
If we are to compare it with its rivals, the all-new Navara still falls short behind the Mitsubishi Triton and the Ford Ranger in terms of refinement and handling, but it definitely felt more composed than the Isuzu D-Max and the Toyota Hilux. That being said, there is no doubt that the Navara has improved by miles from what it was. While it is certainly among the better candidates in the segment, it still has some catching up to do with some of its competitors.
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