And you feel the effects of that – the AT32’s latent ability to ford considerable tracts of water, negotiate impossibly rutted trails and develop unbreakable traction in snowy climes – out on the road. The third-generation Navara might have the most sophisticated suspension in this class but the knobbly tyres undermine that by generating an endlessly busy ride.
Likewise, the raised ride height might build on already imperious forward visibility but does nothing to reign in pitch and yaw movements. To say the AT32 pogoes its way down a road would be grossly unfair, but its manners are sufficiently less refined than the standard car to give serious pause for thought. The vast majority of drivers in this country would be better off with the smoother, quieter qualities of the normal Navara.
The powertrain is unchanged, with a 187bhp 2.3-litre, four-cylinder dCi twin-turbodiesel mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. With the rack-and-pinion steering, the driving controls hang together well enough to make driving the AT32 easy enough to stroke along but no more. Direction changes are indirect rather than imprecise, and while the engine note is a touch agricultural, it isn’t aggravating.
With more than two tonnes to haul, this engine is particularly loud under load, however. Were it only loud enough to drown out the squeals of understeering off-road tyres, whose limits are breached with surprising ease. No doubt, the AT32 is far more at home off the beaten track rather than on it.
Should I buy one?
Finding temptation in such a practical, single-mindedly capable vehicle is no chore. Moreover, I probably speak for many drivers who would never normally want or need a pick-up when I say the AT32 is a terrific-looking bit of kit. Both the underlying Navara and the modifications are also covered with five-year warranties by there respective makers, and so this is no plunge into the unknown.
But first, a couple of things. The ride is poor – too poor to put up with if the vast majority of your time with this pick-up will be spent on the road. The snorkel and the locking front diff are also optional extras on top of the AT32 package and together cost £4200. Expensive? Very. Then again, if you use them, that is likely to be money very well spent.
And what if you don’t? In that case you’re unlikely to take much advantage of all the other modifications Arctic Trucks makes, and so the £45,000 cost of our test car seems indefensible when you can buy the better-equipped Mercedes X-Class – one with a V6 engine – for less.
But ultimately the AT32 will do things an X-Class and many other rivals besides won't. Perhaps, then, it’s simply a case of only professionals need apply?
Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 specification
Where Wiltshire Price £ On sale 39,640 Engine In-line 4cyls, 2.3 litres, twin-turbocharged Power 187bhp at 3750rpm Torque 332lb ft at 1500-2500rpm Gearbox 6-spd manual Kerb weight 2018kg Top speed 114mph 0-62mph 10.8sec Fuel economy 44.9mpg CO2 167g/km Rivals Isuzu D-Max Artic Trucks AT35, Mercedes X-Class