This is the home of automobile road tests in South Africa. We drive South African cars, SUVs and LCVs under South African conditions. It also just happens that most of the vehicles we drive are world cars as well, so what you read here probably applies to the models you can get at home.
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Published in The Witness Motoring on Wednesday May 25, 2011
The body: Nissan's Navara and Pathfinder models were facelifted last May, with subtle changes to front sheetmetal and bumpers and improved interior fittings and materials. The latest Navara, fitted with the Alliance's new 3.0 litre V6 diesel, benefits from an updated computer command centre, a new seven-speed automatic gearbox and suspension upgrades. The 3.0 litre engine comes only with the double cab body, LE trim, automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. Other configurations are available with the 2.5 litre motor. Apart from the R25 000 Premium Connect package fitted to our test unit, the only other major option is leather trim. Our vehicle had the standard fabric upholstery. Unlike Pathfinders with on-demand 4x4, Navaras give users a choice of 4x2, 4x4 High Range and 4x4 Low Range, selected by means of a rotating switch on the central tower. A generous load bin with lockable tailgate and Utili-trak anchoring system minds the cargo.
The engine: This is a 2 991 cc, 24-valve V6 common rail diesel with its turbocharger tucked into the 65-degree angle between the banks of pistons. The block is made of compacted graphite iron, lighter than the usual cast iron with the same advantages of stiffness and noise absorption. It's not quite as light as aluminium, but there is no need for stiffening ribs or additional sound deadening material. An essay-full of internal refinements contributes to making this engine Nissan's smoothest, cleanest and quietest diesel yet. It is presently the only pickup available in SA with a six-cylinder 3.0 litre diesel engine - the others are all fours. Before you point out that at least four European manufacturers have 3.0 litre, six-cylinder diesels with similar power and torque outputs to the Nissan, be sure to note that none of those are fitted into pickups? Thank you.
The experience: Nissan unashamedly pitches this Navara as the most luxurious and powerful double-cab pickup available in South Africa and possibly the most expensive. In fact, the company would like you to think of it as an SUV with a load bin, rather than just a pickup. The engine, interior appointments, luxurious equipment and safety features would be quite at home in any upmarket leisure vehicle.
The Premium Connect package mentioned earlier consists of a satellite navigation system with 40 GB hard disc drive, a seven-speaker BOSE sound system with just over 9 GB of music storage and iPod, USB and auxiliary connectivity, a seven-inch touch screen, a DVD player, Bluetooth audio streaming and a reversing camera with predictive guidance. This last item is particularly useful because like most big double-cabs, you sit so high that it's sometimes difficult to see demarcation lines for parking spaces or where you are reversing.
The seven-speed torque converter transmission boasts a sport setting and manual override, so it's satisfying to use in all conditions. Changes were smooth and rapid, with kickdown happening without noise or drama. Engine speed at 120 in top was about 2 000 rpm. Nissan states that the suspension was upgraded with new spring rates and recalibrated rebound settings for the dampers. A trial run over my usual dirt road test route felt more comfortable than I remembered from previous occasions in both Navara and Pathfinder vehicles. My only reservation was that the seats covered in the new fabric felt hard and flat, not a bit like the comfortable leather jobs I remembered from both the 2.5 Navara and the 3.0 litre Pathfinder. This might be something else to consider ticking on the options list.
Price: R508 400 (standard) or R533 400 (with Premium Connect)
Engine: 2 991 cc V6 turbodiesel
Power: 170 kW at 3 750 rpm
Torque: 550 Nm at 1 750 rpm
Zero to 100 km/h: 9.3 seconds
Maximum speed: 195 km/h
Real life fuel consumption during test: about 10.8 l/100 km
Tank: 80 litres
Ground clearance: 230 mm
Approach/Departure angles: 30/24 degrees
Towing capacity (braked): 3 000 kg
Warranty: 3 years/100 000 km
Service plan: 3 years/90 000 km
This is a one-man show, which means that road test cars entrusted to me are driven only by me. Some reviewers hand test cars over to their partners to use as day-to-day transport and barely experience them for themselves.
What this means to you is that every car reviewed is given my own personal evaluation and receives my own seat of the pants judgement - no second hand input here.
Every car goes through real world testing; on city streets littered with potholes, speed bumps and rumble strips, on freeways and if its profile demands, dirt roads as well.
I am based in Pietermaritzburg, KZN, South Africa. This is the central hub of the KZN Midlands farming community; the place farmers go to to buy their supplies and equipment, truck their goods to market, send their kids to school and go to kick back and relax.
So occasionally a cow, a goat or a horse may add a little local colour by finding its way into the story or one of the pictures. It's all part of the ambience!
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