Tweaked Navara good, but could do better

The latest incarnation of Nissan’s Navara is more efficient, more refined and offers drivers a level of luxury rarely seen in a pick-up. But little glitches mean it’s not quite perfect, as Emily Padfield finds out

When it broke on to the pick-up market in 2005, the Navara soon established itself as a strong leader in the market, given its SUV-like interior and Tonka-like good looks.

With its mid-life makeover, Nissan has opted to refine rather than change the Navara. After all, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

The 2.5 litre, four-cylinder turbo diesel gets upgraded fuel injection alongside a new turbo and cylinder head, which not only boost performance, but also ease the Navara’s footprint somewhat.

Fuel efficiency has indeed benefited from the engine tweaks, and this was one of the rare occasions where a vehicle on test actually meets its claimed mpg. On a long test, travelling to the North Yorkshire Moors and back to Warwickshire, it averaged 32.7 (that’s just 0.5 less than quoted, and given it was fully laden and I have a fairly heavy right foot – that’s pretty impressive).

Built in Nissan’s factory in Barcelona alongside the Pathfinder SUV, the Navara adopts the same ladder frame chassis as it’s sibling. In staying with this arrangement rather than opting for a more sophisticated monocoque design, Nissan has kept things simple. The arrangement is strong, able to deal with off-road conditions well and is able to carry 1125kg as well as towing 2600kg. In its 3-litre guise, it can tow 3000kg.

The downside of this simplistic system becomes clearer on longer journeys, as the leaf-spring rear suspension tends to be a bit antsy over potholes and body roll can be a bit tedious for the passenger.

Putting out 188hp at 4000rpm, power is no problem with the Navara, with torque measuring a healthy 450Nm at 2000rpm.

The 6-speed gearbox is somewhat agricultural, however. It’s all too easy to stall it when you first get in, and the ratios are far from refined. It’s nice to have a sixth gear, but it could do with being extended.

Kitted out in electric blue metallic paint, full leather, electric heated seats and a sophisticated Sat-Nav system, it cuts quite a dash whether you’re in a McDonald’s drive thru or taking the sheep to market. A useful reversing camera allows you to hitch up to trailers easily – but I wasn’t convinced it was mounted in the right position (and neither were my Mum’s flower pots after I reversed over them) and it needed frequent wiping after a trip on wintry roads.

Off-road, it’s more than capable thanks to it’s utilitarian chassis and suspension. Shifting between 2H and 4H on the fly is straightforward, too, thanks to a clear and simple dial on the dash.

Little features like pop-up headlight washers, lit footwells and a host of storage spots make it pretty comfortable, and there’s enough room in the back for three people without them having to become overly aquainted.

The load bay, measuring 1510mm long by 1560mm isn’t the biggest on the market, but numerous tie-down points make it easy to secure loads.

Nissan Navara Tekna

Engine: 2.5 YD25 four-cylinder turbo; Power: 188hp at 4000rpm; Torque: 4500Nm at 2000rpm; Transmission: 6-speed manual; Towing capacity: 2600kg; Payload: 1125kg; Price: Basic (+VAT) £20,540 As tested – £27,314

If it’s an all-round pickup you want, then the Navara is your best bet, despite it’s unrefined gearbox and lively ride. It’s not cheap though, with the model we tested coming in at a little over £27,300.

Power Farming verdict

**** (4 stars)
Mid-life makeover improves the Navara’s interior. Ride can be lively at times but it’s still a good bet for long journeys.

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