The Navara is an expansion of Nissan's pickup range and slots in above the Hardbody.
Nissan is simultaneously dropping the price of Hardbodys with about 6%. However, Nissan marketing and communications manager Gerhard Fourie guaranteed Wheels24 that the Hardbody is not to play a lesser role in the company's product planning.
According to Fourie the Hardbody is a strategic product for Nissan and the current range's lifecycle is still 2007, when a replacement model is due.
The first Navara models to go on sale here are the 4x2 derivatives, while 4x4 Navaras will join the range early in 2006.
Initially there are two engine options, a 2.5-litre turbodiesel and a 4.0-litre, but a higher powered version of the turbodiesel will become available with the launch of the 4x4 models.
Nissan says that with the Navara it wants to reclaim its leading position as the top double-cab pickup in South Africa. And there is little doubt with us that the Navara has what it takes to do so.
Not only does it offer more space than its rivals, but the Navara has striking looks featuring the same bold and aggressive design as the new Pathfinder.
Nissan says that their research shows that 76% of all double cabs sold are 4x2s and therefore the Navara 4x4 is not only aimed at double cabs but also soft-roaders such as the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V.
Well, no matter the reason the Navara is definitely to appeal to a broad market. Its bold and aggressive design makes it a big head-turner and it certainly looks the part of a serious contender in the SUV and double cab segments.
Furthermore it comes with a versatile, classy and quality interior, which is more car-like than any of its bakkie rivals.
It comes with a host of standard features such as dual airbags, all-round electric windows, air-conditioning, six-CD front loader and cruise control.
There are also a host of storage compartments suchs as a sunglasses holder, assorted cup and bottle holders, a large double-deck glove box with a smaller box in the centre of the dashboard and a six-litre box in the centre console with coin, card and pen trays.
The rear bench seat, which can easily accommodate three adults, can split 60/40, with a fold-up squab to give a flat cargo area behind the front seats if required.
Under the skin
The range-topping engine for the Navara is Nissan's new 4.0-litre V6 engine, which comes straight from the Pathfinder. The V6 petrol engine delivers 198kW of power and 385 Nm of torque.
It includes advanced design features such as Electronic Throttle Control with secondary mapping in 4LO (4x4 models), Continuous Valve Timing Control (C-VTC), Nissan variable Induction Control System (NICS), silent timing chain, micro finished camshaft and crankshaft surfaces, molybdenum-coated pistons, resin intake manifold, digital knock control system, high capacity muffler and lightweight aluminium block.
The diesel engine comes in two power versions, High (4x4) and Mid (4x2). High delivers 128kW of power and 403Nm of torque, while Mid offers 106kW and 356Nm.
The diesel features second-generation common-rail technology for lower emissions, a variable nozzle turbocharger (high output engine only) with intercooler for more power and lower emissions, and a new balancer system for greater refinement.
Six-speed manual transmission is offered for the first time in the one-ton category of the market, on both petrol and diesel engines. Five-speed automatic transmission will be available in early 2006.
In terms of safety feature Antilock Braking System (ABS), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) are standard.
An innovative, aerodynamically efficient roof rack can support up to 100 kg and has rails that extend beyond the rear of the cab and a fully adjustable centre crossbar that can be used to support long loads and prevent the load from bumping against the cab.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of Navara is the Utili-track cargo load system and reinforced loadbox construction.
The cargo area has a large quick-release handle on the tailgate and features five channels (two in the floor and one each along the top inside edges and cab-end of the loadbox) that will accept a variety of accessories, including racks, dividers and trays that enable any shape or size of load to be transported securely.
Fixed hooks and sliding cleats allow for cargo to be tied down with ropes or ratchet straps. The load box provides best in class load space, thanks in part to a design which reduces the intrusion of rear wheel housing to a minimum.
According to Nissan the Navara's the load box also provides "best in class" load space, thanks in part to a design which reduces the intrusion of rear wheel housing to a minimum.
Because of their size, shape, high-riding position and high centre of gravity, double cabs tend to offer clumsy dynamics. However, the new generation bakkies' road handling and dynamics proves to be much better than before.
The Navara 4x2 is a showcase of the quantum leap in the ride quality of bakkies.
Despite it being a big vehicle, and bigger than its rivals, the Navara offers a great drive. This is achieved by accurate steering, well-contained body roll and a tight turning circle.
Thanks to these attributes the Navara is at ease in city driving conditions and easy to place on the road. Our first impressions of the Navara's longer distance ride qualities are also good and this bakkie is a happy cruiser at higher speeds.
Both engine derivatives offer more than enough pulling power and even the lower powered diesel unit never seems to struggle under the Navara's huge bonnet.
Towing capabilities are good too and Nissan claims that the Navara can pull a load of up to two tonnes.
Wheels24 is of the opinion that the Navara is to "shift expectations" in the double cab market.
It is a vehicle with attitude thanks to its striking design, versatility and great driving capabilities.
The Navara also has more road presence than its rivals, which is backed up by good credentials such as its impressive engineering and Nissan reliability.
All these qualities gives the Navara more than enough ammunition to claim superiority in the double cab segment.
This vehicle is again a showcase of Nissan's vision to revitalise the brand and that the carmaker is committed to offer exciting and quality products.
As with the 350Z, Pathfinder and Murano the Navara has what it takes to capture the imagination of the car buying public.
Navara 4x2 2.5 dCi: R269 900
Navara 4x2 4.0 V6: R273 450