- Arctic Trucks conversion of popular pickup driven
- Features 32-inch tyres, 20mm lifted suspension, tough bodywork
- Twin-turbo 190hp engine for power, £33k starting price
It’s the most extreme version of the Navara that Nissan sells, but finished in dark Cayman Blue like this, if it wasn’t for the optional snorkel poking out of the front wing you might not necessarily notice anything different about it.
Until you get up close that is - when the 32-inch tyres and accompanying wheelarch extensions become all but unmissable. Naturally, it has raised suspension as well.
Still, compared with rival Arctic Trucks conversions from Isuzu and Toyota, the Nissan is more Captain America than Incredible Hulk. On UK roads we’re suspecting that’s probably a good thing – let’s find out.
Nissan Navara AT32 – Arctic Trucks 101
You might have heard of Arctic Trucks – it’s an Icelandic firm famous for building properly tough off-road vehicles, which occasionally pop up on the Top Gear TV program.
Arctic Trucks’ conversions are graded by progressively more outrageous tyre size, which not only explains why this Nissan is labelled the Off-Roader AT32, but also how come the Isuzu D-Max and Toyota Hilux equivalents are chunkier.
Both these competitors are AT35 models, meaning they have 35-inch tyres, and require even bulgier bodywork to accommodate them.
Does size matter? If you’re going properly off-piste we suspect it probably does. But as a lifestyle vehicle in the UK, the Navara AT32 has plenty of other assets that set it above those two alternatives.
What makes the Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 special?
Compared to a regular Navara, the AT32’s suspension is raised 20mm to improve ground clearance, thanks to the included Arctic Trucks Performance package fitted as standard. The big tyres add another 20mm of extra height, meaning this Navara stands 40mm taller overall.
Since this might encourage you to take the especially scenic route, much of the underside has additional steel skid plates to better protect vital components – such as the engine, fuel tank and transmission.
The wider wheelarches also serve to protect the truck from off-road abuse. Finished in contrasting black plastic rather than the main body colour, for maximum impact, these usefully have the recommended tyre pressures marked on them.
In fact, there are two different figures – one for regular road driving, the other a lower tyre pressure setting for travelling over soft off-road surfaces such as snow or sand.
Looking for even more off-roading cred? Then you’ll be wanting the snorkel air intake and the front differential lock – the only major AT32 options. A rear differential lock is fitted as standard.
Locking the diffs helps with traction where surfaces are particularly slippery by fixing power distribution equally across the axles, while the snorkel increases the AT32’s wading depth to 800mm – 200mm greater than before. It also helps filter out dusty air in more arid environments.
As a result of this, the AT32 offers these off-road stat improvements over the standard Navara:
|Standard Navara||Navara AT32|
|Ground clearance (mm)||223mm||243mm|
|Approach angle (degrees)||30.4||35.0|
|Breakover angle (degrees)||22.2||24.0|
|Departure angle (degrees)||25.6||25.7|
|Wading depth (mm)||600||800 (with snorkle)|
The final exterior enhancements are a set of tough side steps and mudguards, so you should be able to get in and out without ruining your trousers.
As with all high-spec Navaras, the AT32 also includes the following high-tech solutions to make driving in all conditions easier:
- Hill descent control – activate to automatically slow the pickup on slippery descents
- Hill-start assist – holds the pickup on the brakes to stop it sliding backwards when pulling away on a hill
- Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) – boosts grip by braking slipping wheels which transfers power and torque to the wheels that do have grip
- Three-mode four-wheel drive – rear-wheel drive for tarmac, four-wheel drive high for light off-roading, four-wheel drive low for serious off-roading
- 360-degree surround view monitor – camera system that gives you a clever birds’ eye view of the pickup, helping you spot and avoid obstacles that might otherwise be impossible to see; also useful in car parks
What’s the Nissan Navara AT32 like to drive?
We’ll be undertaking a decidedly more thorough off-road test of the AT32 later in 2018, but suffice to say, typical green lane use isn’t likely to bother this machine – although as with all pickups, the turning circle and overhangs can present challenges if there are tight turns involved.
Obviously, the rival AT35 models have even more aggressive tyres and greater ground clearance for the really tough stuff – but the Nissan fights back with greater power and performance.
You may find that both the 164hp 1.9-litre Isuzu D-Max AT35 and the 150hp 2.4-litre Toyota Hilux AT35 (which we’ve driven in its prototype Tamiya Bruiser form) feel like they’re struggling to turn those massive tyres on occasion. In other words, on road especially, they can feel a little… slow.
This is not a problem the Navara AT32 suffers from. Fitted with Nissan’s 190hp 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel, which also provides 450Nm of torque, this is a punchy pickup – and one that, despite its extended size, feels remarkably nimble and wieldy, even on smaller British B-roads.
Ride comfort on the motorway remains a little annoying, constantly choppy, as is the case with most pickups. But you notice this far less when travelling on twistier tarmac, where you instead find yourself impressive by how controlled the body roll is in the corners for a vehicle that’s so tall.
Sudden bumps are rarely a problem either, thanks to the Navara’s multi-link rear suspension, but we’d probably ditch the six-speed manual gearbox fitted to this car in favour of the optional seven-speed automatic; the manual’s shift-action is so long it starts and finishes in different counties.
Still, the AT32 is easily the nicest Arctic Trucks conversion we’ve driven.
Any changes on the inside?
No – this is standard high-spec Navara in the inside. So it’s generously equipped, with sat-nav, Bluetooth, DAB, leather, and lots of airbags and safety kit all included, but has no bespoke Arctic Trucks detailing.
Which is a bit of a shame, because the Navara’s slightly plain interior design could do with some livening up. Material quality is good, though – certainly better than the D-Max and Hilux – and the control layout is reasonably easy to get to grips with.
The infotainment system is far from the best in terms user-friendliness, however, and the amount of storage space could be better, particularly if you’re wanting one of these as a working truck.
How practical is the Nissan Navara AT32 and what will it cost to run?
You may need to consider that it’s slightly bigger than a standard Navara (which is not a small device in its own right), and that increased suspension height means the load area is further from the ground. But beyond that it’s business as usual in practicality terms.
Full load area details can be found on our dedicated Nissan Navara Dimensions page.
Claimed fuel economy is 44.9mpg (don’t expect to exceed 40mpg in the real world), and the AT32 carries the same warranty as every other Nissan light commercial vehicle – which is to say it’s covered for five years or 100,000 miles. Impressive.
Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 verdict
Priced from £33,033 (excluding VAT but on-the-road), the Nissan Navara Off-Roader AT32 isn’t a cheap choice, but it’s extremely well equipped, highly capable, and one of the best all-round, go-anywhere pickups we’ve driven in quite a while.
If you’re looking at spending this sort of money on a pickup you’d do well to take a look at the ultra-powerful VW Amarok V6 range, and perhaps the premium-level Mercedes X-Class (keeping in mind that the X-Class is based on the Navara…), but neither of these offer such an off-road orientated model right from the dealership.
That said, if you’re not in a hurry to buy and want the ultimate in off-road performance, it might well be worth hanging on until 2019, when Ford’s super-trick Ranger Raptor is due to arrive.