There’s no denying the Nissan Navara is the best-looking pickup on the market. A bold statement it may be and, of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you may argue. But ask most and they’ll agree that after its launch in 2005, the Navara redefined the pickup sector, leaving most other manufacturers scrabbling to keep up.
It offered all the practicality of a standard pickup, but with a level of sophistication akin to an SUV. In 2007, Navara sale peaked sales, seeing the Navara leapfrog its competitors and become the best-selling vehicle in the pickup sector; a healthy 40,000 have been sold in the UK since.
There are three reasons why people buy the Navara, reckons Nissan. The power, the design and the comfort. In the rural fraternity it’s targeted at farmers and managers who want to get away from the uncomfortable, spongy pick-ups of yore and into something, well, a little more sophisticated.
In this, the first major refresh since its launch, both Navara and its sibling SUV, the Pathfinder, get more power, improved environmental credentials and a subtle touch of cosmetic surgery.
Visit our picture gallery from the launch of the 2010 Navara
One thing the Navara has never been guilty of is a lack of power. But, as the years have passed, most other pickup manufacturers have stuffed bigger and more powerful engines into their top spec models.
To compete, the top-spec Outlaw is now available with a torquey 231hp V6, which offers a flat torque curve of 550Nm right from 750 to 1500 rpm. Towing capacity increases from 2.7t on the 2.5-litre dCi in the standard Navara to a healthy 3t, while the Pathfinder pulls a competitive 3.5t (putting it up there with the Discovery 4).
The standard 2.5-litre engine also gets 11% more power and now peaks at 190hp (rather than the previous 171hp), while fuel consumption has dropped by 15% to 33.2mpg. Fuel consumption is estimated at 30.4mpg for the fuel-slurping V6.
While the 2.5-litre Acenta and Tekna models are available with a six-speed manual or five-speed autobox, the V6 Outlaw comes with a seven-speed adaptive automatic transmission.
Nissan isn’t planning to add a manual to the line-up, unfortunately, but the adaptive transmission (a derivative of the one that’s used in the snazzy 370Z sportscar) soon settles into the way you drive, with plenty of low end grunt for towing.
For those who like hurling the Navara round corners, Nissan have now added ESP across the range, too, as well as 18in alloys and because of the new bumper, bonnet and grille, vehicles are now 80mm longer.
From the outside, not much has changed on the new model. But to house the bigger V6 block, designers have had to make the engine housing bigger. While they were at it, they’ve streamlined the bonnet and updated the grille and headlights, adding projector Xenon.
Inside there’s a new centre console, housing all the needed controls in a handy, easy-to-reach configuration. An all-singing-all-dancing new media centre in the top spec models boasts satnav, as well as any number of sound-system options and for those who take their cruising seriously, the Bose sound system certainly completes the image.
When you start up, dials flash in sequence as if you’re in a jet fighter. Nissan reckons it adds to the drama of driving the updated models, although I’m still to be convinced.
There’s little of this drama relayed when you’re in the driving seat, though. The Navara holds the road, thanks to the addition of EPS, with only a little of a pickups’ tendency to be light at the back end.
The seven-speed auto, which takes a while to settle into, offers plenty of scope for both off-road and high-speed travel, and the cruise control has a handy speed limiter function which, let’s face it, you’re going to need unless you’re the most steady of drivers.
The 2.5 dCi with its six-speed transmission offers plenty of option both low and high-end torque, too.
Model: Nissan Navara Outlaw
Engine: V6 3-litre
Towing capacity: 3t
Price: TBC but likely to be between £28,000 and £29,000
Model: Nissan Pathfinder/Navara 2.5dCi
Engine: 2.5-litre dCi
Towing capacity: 3.5t
Want to see all the photos from the press launch? Have a look at our photo gallery