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At last, nirvana is close at hand thanks to the new Navara

2017-04-03 07:41

NEW NAVARA: It's taken some time, but Nissan has launched its new Navara in SA. Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

Melinda Ferguson

Nissan Navara 2.3D SE 4x4 DC

From R514 900

If you’re a bakkie addict like me, you’ve probably been jonesing for the new Nissan Navara to hit our shores.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with junkie speak, jonesing is literally “waiting for your fix”. The only thing that will alleviate the withdrawal symptoms, which often include nausea, anxiety and even sweating, is that hit.

No one would blame you for having the anticipatory shakes right now – the new Navara made its first appearance in Thailand in 2014, so we’ve been waiting for more than two years for it. Watching it become available in Europe last year just added to the aches and shakes.

DRIVEN: New Nissan Navara ready to fist-fight Ranger, Hilux

The wait is finally over. As you read this, your local dealer is hopefully stocking up. The big question is, has the wait been worth it?

During the launch, which revved off at 5am in Durbanville, Cape Town, a large contingent of media dieselheads – diesel is the only derivative available locally so far – set off on an arduous 700km journey to test if the new Navara could make magic on tar, gravel, mountain passes and desert sand. Some much-needed Cape rain even added to the mix.

Rugged and capable

On a straight tar road, the new Navara’s 2.3 litre turbodiesel engine made pure magic, producing 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque in the six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmission derivatives.

As soon as we hit gravel and rougher off-road terrain, the first thing I noticed was how comfortable the drive was. Thanks to Nissan’s revolutionary in-class adoption of a five-link coil rear suspension (as opposed to traditional leaf springs), in conjunction with an independent double wishbone front setup, the drive is surprisingly smooth. But it was on the sand dunes of Lambert’s Bay that the Navara was really put to the test. With a diff lock standard in all three derivatives, best-in-class approach and departure angles, along with high levels of safety and driver assist tech, including hill start assist, hill descent control and shift on-the-fly 4x4, the rugged and supremely capable Navara came out to play.

In the looks and specs department, the Navara shines. The entry-level SE comes packed with standard fare, including 16-inch alloys, LED daytime running lamps, second-row privacy glass, a chrome-look grille, a leather-trimmed multifunction steering wheel and cruise control. The top-of-the-range LE features 18-inch alloys, roof rails, the two-channel Utili-track loading system, push-button start/stop, dual-zone climate control and rear park-distance control.

With a claimed fuel consumption of 6.4 litres/100km and best-in-class carrying and tow capacity, plus a leading six-year/150 000km warranty, it’s going to be really hard to resist Navara nirvana.

Glamping

After almost eight hours of high-level driving, I was somewhat dismayed to hear that, instead of some swanky five-star hotel, we’d be camping. Camping! Were they insane? I needed some comfort, or at the very least a shower, for Nissan’s sake! But on arriving in Rhebokskloof in Paarl, it felt like I’d come across a mirage. This was no pitch-your-tent, sleeping bag, long-drop camp site – instead, a five-star setup unfolded. Forget common camping, we were glamping! It was luxury all the way – double beds swathed in cotton sheets, and personal showers and loos. I even had my own little charging point for my gadgets. The only thing tough about the accommodation was leaving.

Ferguson was hosted by Rhebokskloof.

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Read more on:    nissan  |  melinda ferguson  |  bakkie  |  navara

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