Currently reading: Nissan Navara long-term test review: final report
Can a well-equipped pick-up really offer the same ownership proposition as an SUV?
Autocar
News
6 mins read
8 May 2017

It was only right that our Nissan Navara NP300 Double Cab pick-up truck was plunged straight into the action when it arrived.

This is a no-nonsense utility vehicle, after all, and from day one it was put to work transporting my bulky camera gear to myriad video shoots around the country.

It rarely got a rest thereafter and in six months covered 11,880 miles. That’s one of the Navara’s many impressive numbers. Some of the other most important ones relate to its impact on my wallet.

The Navara is classified as a light commercial vehicle, so the flat £140 VED rate takes the sting out of our CO2-based road tax system, despite its claimed 169g/km output. There are even competitive rates on fuel allowances, so this is predominantly geared up to be a business vehicle – if that’s not stating the obvious.

Our Navara cost £29,621 all in, with its benefit-in-kind value set at £3170. So if you pay tax at 20%, it works out at £634 per year, or £52.83 per month. For a 40% tax payer, that becomes £1268 for the year, or £105.66 per month. From this perspective, it’s genuinely one of the cheapest vehicles you could run. For private buyers, though, it’s harder to make a case for it over more efficient vans or SUVs that offer the same key attributes but for less money and better day-to-day running costs.

The Navara really found its form on the 50mph roads and motorways on which it spent much of its time, ticking along happily and smoothly. Push it hard, though, and the noise from the air intake became so loud that it could be mistaken for a bin lorry. Cats ran, dogs barked, kids turned their noses up, although that may have been because of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange paintwork. Much of that noise found its way into the cab, too, and the audio system would have to be turned up to full volume to drown it out.

The infotainment, incidentally, is a standout part of the Navara’s game. Broadly speaking, others do it better, but not in this sector. It conducts its business in a first-rate way through a 7.0in touchscreen. The stereo is loud without distorting and the bass is decent. Overall, the system’s integration with the steering wheel controls and dashboard screen is reminiscent of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, and I loved it.

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The twin-turbocharged 2.3-litre diesel engine’s claimed 187bhp and 332lb ft sound gutsy on paper, but in practice I was often left wanting more of both – quite disappointing considering that this is the most powerful version available. Rivals such as the Volkswagen Amarok have much more usable grunt, especially if you’re after a tow vehicle.

What the Navara also needs is a taller sixth gear, or even a seventh ratio. I was left yearning for the optional seven-speed automatic that Nissan offers – and not just for the extra ratio. Having sampled the auto for a week, I can confirm that it is by far the better package.

I wonder if the auto would deliver better long-term fuel economy too. Our Navara returned an average of 32mpg during its time with us. For a two-tonne steel mass with the aerodynamics of, well, a truck, that figure may seem reasonable to some, but not me, having burnt through £300 a month in diesel.

The automatic also lessens the discomfort of sitting on a driver’s seat with a very flat base. By losing the clutch pedal, I could actually drive in reasonable comfort. Oddly, the leather in the automatic Navara was far softer than in ours, although Nissan says there has been no change in supplier or material.

Our truck didn’t escape some DIY ‘improvements’, either. I added some carpet to the rear in order to stop the bed liner from churning its contents around like pennies in a washing machine. It’s a shame that Nissan has overlooked the less heavy-duty end of the pick-up market and not offered a wider variety of bed lining options. Also, an aftermarket tailgate hinge modification from Pegasus made raising and lowering the heavy panel much easier than it was previously.

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During its six short months with us, the Navara really settled into its crucial role as my daily driver cum filming car. Our reviewer Alan Taylor-Jones said he was mightily impressed with it. He highlighted its all-round capabilities, the space on offer here in Double Cab form and the generous amount of kit it came with. Supplied in Tekna trim, it left me wanting for little – apart from some more reach on the steering column. That aside, it really did give a bit of everything – which is exactly what a pick-up is built for.

One of the Navara’s standout performances was during filming for our Britain’s Best Driver’s Car feature in Wales. Being able to pile an enormous quantity of gear into the back and keep it secure as we moved around proved invaluable.

We even pushed the pick-up to its limit around Anglesey circuit. The rubber squealed but I didn’t, instead staying calm and composed thanks to the multi-link suspension set-up. I had no fear filming from the flatbed, and the Navara garnered respect from my road tester colleagues for hustling around the track.

The Nissan undertook further excursions, assisting Team Autocar’s Three Peaks Challenge mountain assault by lugging them and their walking poles around the high points of England, Scotland and Wales. It was selected on the grounds of its spaciousness and being a ‘proper 4x4’, even though it was only used in two-wheel drive mode.

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The Navara’s time with us was a success. This is very much a ‘what you see is what you get’ motor. But it doesn’t surpass better-riding, spacious estates such as the Skoda Superb, and it doesn’t have that extra something that makes it a reasonable alternative to an SUV. If you want a pick-up, though, for work especially, I would have no hesitation recommending this one.

OPTIONS

Hardtop Premium £3300, electric sunroof £450, bedliner protection £360, fitted tool box £300, tow bar £275, aluminium entry guards £89, front and rear mats £55

FUEL CONSUMPTION AND RANGE

Claimed economy 40.3mpg Fuel tank 73 litres Test average 32.0mpg Test best 44.1mpg Test worst 19.0mpg Real-world range 450 miles

TECH HIGHLIGHTS

0-62mph 10.8sec Top speed 114mph Engine 4 cyls, 2298cc, diesel Max power 187bhp at 1500-2500rpm Max torque 332lb ft at 1500rpm Transmission 6-spd manual Boot Flatbed, 1-tonne capacity Wheels 18in, alloy Tyres 255/60 R18 Kerb weight 1963kg

SERVICE AND RUNNING COSTS

Contract hire rate £229 per month CO2 169g/km Service costs None Other costs £366 (new aerial, tail lift) Fuel costs £1800 Running costs inc fuel £2166 Cost per mile 18 pence Depreciation £4121 Cost per mile inc depreciation 54 pence Faults None

PREVIOUS REPORTS

Percieved quality

The Nissan Navara NP300 is one of the first to try to bring more SUV commodities to the pick-up market and, boy, does this Tekna model cram in the features.

Gadgets can be gimmicks, but most of its features are extremely useful, so it holds its own against most SUVs in that respect. However, the cabin does leave me wanting. I couldn’t care less if a car has cheap, scratchy plastics in the footwell, but it irritates me that my elbow rests on the equivalent of a kitchen counter top.

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Granted, there is an ‘armrest’ with some padding, but it’s too sited low for real-world use. I wish the top of the door card was more protruding and had a padded armrest. I also think the absence of rake and reach adjustment for the steering is rather stingy on a £29,000 vehicle. Overall, rivals like the Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok surpass the Navara in perceived quality, because they have those extra touches.

Make the cabin out of the hardest, scratchiest plastics you want. Just sort out the contact points. 

Climate control issues

My Navara has dual-zone climate control on which you can choose the temperature to within 0.5deg. Amazing, right? Well, no. For all its adjustability, there’s 2deg of usable range; 16deg is icebox cold, 16.5deg is a tepid room temperature, 17deg is warm and 17.5deg is an inferno.

It prompts the question: who decommissioned the blue-to-red dial? Simplicity is underrated. - Jim Holder

Read our previous reports here

First report

Aftermarket upgrades

James Holloway

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Comments
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ianp55 8 May 2017

Nissan Navara Long Term

Perceived quality my eye,it's a pick up truck not an Infiniti, it transports loads in the back, if the cabin's comfortable it's a bonus,horses for courses please!!!!!
WallMeerkat 8 May 2017

The cracked chassis and early

The cracked chassis and early blown engines of previous models doesn't quite inspire confidence in the quality. Nissan should stick to selling jumped up Megane based pretend SUVs, which seem quite popular.
Shane_2005 8 May 2017

What a handsome beast! Shame

What a handsome beast! Shame about the car though