Beneath the thuggish wheel arch extensions are the 32in Nokian 275/70 tyres that give the car its name. And ensconced within all that rubber are the least kerb-able wheels in existence: attractive, black 17in items of AT’s own design. Crawl underneath and you’ll notice further modifications – a branded skid-plate and other protective underbody measures to help bat off boulders that threaten to puncture the engine, transmission, propshaft and fuel tank.
Along with a locking front differential to complement similar, existing hardware in the rear axle, the AT32 is the most capable Navara ever offered through official Nissan sales channels.
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.