Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the new NP 300 Nissan Navara.
Australian families and car buyers continue to have a thirst for dual-cab utes and the new Nissan Navara is seen as a real contender against better-selling models – Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Mitsubishi Triton.
Launched only recently and with new King, Single and Dual-Cab Chassis variants just arriving in dealerships now, it will be interesting to see whether the Navara will make a sustained challenge.
After driving the RX grade of the new 2015 Nissan Navara NP 300 for a week I think it just might.
Available in four model grades – DX, RX, ST and ST-X, prices for the new Navara kick off from $19,490. The dual -cab range is priced from $26,490 and that will get you into a DX grade model with a 122kW/238Nm 2.5 litre petrol engine.
The RX grade comes powered only by a 120kW/403Nm 2.3 litre turbo-diesel engine. Rear-wheel drive-only models start from $32,990 (manual) and $35,490 (auto).
I had a 2015 Nissan Navara RX with 4×4 drivetrain and automatic transmission – a combo that will set you back from $42,490, $2,500 more than the equivalent manual version.
Up from the Navara RX is the ST and ST-X, both are powered by a 2.3 litre twin-turbo diesel engine and power and torque comes in at 140kW/450Nm.
So, the RX is the middle of the road Navara and really I must say that I was quite impressed.
Sure, it comes with 16” steel wheels instead of alloys and yes, don’t go looking for sat-nav, a reverse camera or parking sensors!
What it does have though is a really good mix of comfort and durability.
The single-turbo diesel engine does an admirable job of getting the big dual-cab ute around, though as you would expect there is a bit of lag when the revs are down. The engine is also a bit noisy, but probably no noisier than the other equivalent models on the market.
With combined fuel economy at just 7.1L/100km there are no complaints at all there.
I found the Navara’s seven-speed automatic transmission mostly adequate, though at times when acceleration was needed from a slow speed start there was a particularly prevalent dead spot where literally nothing happened.
The steering is a bit heavy, especially during low speed manoeuvres, but the turning circle is amazingly small. The Navara even got around one U-turn spot that I frequent that some cars struggle to negotiate in one go!
The ride is actually pretty good (for a 4×4 ute), sure, it’s not luxury SUV-like, but it is certainly more people friendly than some of its rivals (especially Holden Colorado).
From the driver’s seat, thanks to the new Navara’s chunky front guards, you really have absolutely no idea where the front corners of the vehicle are. The big truck also desperately needs at least rear parking sensors to help make parking easier and safer.
The new Navara cabin is class-leading. Nissan has got the mix just right between comfort and practicality and with simple and fuss-free switches and controls I’m happy to give it a big tick of approval.
One thing though, steering adjustment in the RX is tilt-only and with notch type seat back adjustment I’d be lying if I said I ever really found exactly the most comfortable seating position for me. That’s even with the driver’s seat being height-adjustable.
In saying that, the seats in the new Navara are better than the previous model and the rear seat, in particular, is probably more comfortable than just about any found in the competition. Rear seat passengers also get air-vents (you would be surprised how often these are overlooked in dual-cab utes).
There’s a stack of legroom front and back (this can be curiously limited in some dual-cab models), door pocket storage areas are well-sized, the centre storage bin is a bit smaller than you might expect and the glove box is so small it’s almost redundant (especially with service manual in there).
You get a clever little sliding window in the back which is electronically controlled via a dashboard switch. The new Navara also has some nice touches, such as sun visor mirror lights, plenty of cup holders’ front and back and map reading lights.
The Bluetooth system was fuss-free and easy to program and the stereo system sounded pretty good.
The NP 300 Navara also has an overall quality feel about it. For example, the way the tail-gate and doors close and richness of the paint. Nissan has gone to the trouble to make sure this new Thai-built ute is up to Australian standards.
Some really nice chrome touches, such as on the grille, wing mirrors, door handles and rear bumper also help make the Navara a really attractive vehicle.
All models in the new Nissan Navara NP 300 range boast a full five-star safety rating.
Summing it up; as far as dual-cab utes go the new Nissan Navara is a must drive option. A great mix of passenger friendly, rough and tough and well built, this new Navara is going places and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes serious sales numbers off its rivals.
If you don’t need 4×4 then I reckon there’s great value to be had in the Navara RX 2WD, offered from just $32,990 – a steal!
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Nissan Navara RX
Engine: 2.3 litre turbo-diesel producing 120kW and 403Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic
Safety: Five stars
Price: RX from $32,990 (2WD), from $39,990 (4WD)