02 November 2016 Last Updated: 03 November 2016

Full Nissan NP300 Navara (16 on) Model Review

by Tom Goodlad, Staff Writer

Nissan Navara pickup
  • Euro 6-compliant Nissan pickup tested
  • Impressive both on- and off-road
  • Lots of equipment, but costs nearly £32k
Nissan NP300 Navara (16 on) 2.3 dCi (190ps) Double Cab Pick Up Tekna 4WD Auto - Road Test
We’ve already driven the Nissan NP300 Navara pickup, albeit in Euro 5 spec, when it was launched earlier this year. Now, Nissan has dropped a Euro 6-compliant engine into its handsome load-lugger to make it a little less offensive to the environment and much more competitive with the likes of the Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux.

We’ve already driven the Nissan NP300 Navara pickup, albeit in Euro 5 spec, when it was launched earlier this year. Now, Nissan has dropped a Euro 6-compliant engine into its handsome load-lugger to make it a little less offensive to the environment and much more competitive with the likes of the Ford Ranger, VW Amarok, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux.

What makes it Euro 6 friendly? In short, a 17-litre AdBlue tank. By equipping the Navara with AdBlue technology (which we explain here), the amount of harmful nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions coming out of the exhaust is reduced.

Impressive on-road refinement

On the road, the Navara impresses thanks to its remarkably car-like driving manners. That doesn’t mean you’ll be attacking corners like you would in a hot hatchback, but it’s much more like a regular SUV than you might think. It has a comfortable ride and impressive refinement, and this is largely due to the five-link rear suspension set-up which soaks up the worst bumps in the road better than most comparable commercial vehicles, such as the Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux.

Performance is car-like, too. The engine produces 190hp and 450Nm of torque, meaning the Navara will sprint from 0-62mph in 10.8 seconds.

It doesn’t feel that fast in daily driving, but put your foot down for an overtaking manoeuvre and the smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic gearbox responds quickly and ensures the Navara overtakes safely. This is where Nissan’s commercial-only diesel makes itself heard, but it’s not too overbearing and settles down again when you’re back to cruising speeds.

There’s little road feel in the steering, but it’s well-weighted. It means the Navara is very easy to drive around town and on faster roads. Operating in rear-wheel drive mode means running costs are kept in check, with improved economy.

Running costs

This version of the Navara isn’t the one to go for if you want the lowest running costs. Nissan claims combined fuel economy of 41mpg, although this is dependent on how heavy your load is (it has a 1,054kg maximum payload in this guise). 

That maximum payload means the Navara qualifies as a commercial vehicle and is subject to a flat road tax rate of £230 for 12 months under current van tax rates.

While it’s not the cheapest Navara to run, it is more efficient than many of its rivals. For example, the VW Amarok kicks off at 205g/km of CO2 emissions, the Toyota Hilux produces 185g/km and the Isuzu D-Max 192g/km. That gives the Navara a great advantage if you’re a cost-conscious pickup buyer, while service intervals are every two years or 25,000 miles and the AdBlue will need to be topped up after about 7,000 miles.

Pickup prowess

The Navara needs to be a serious load-lugger to compete with the Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Mitsubishi L200, and it doesn’t disappoint. The auto version tested here has the ability to tow up to 3.5 tonnes.

The load space itself is substantial, measuring 1,578mm in length and 1,560mm (1,130mm between the wheelarches) in width. The maximum payload is 1,045kg.

Solid and dependable off-road

We're sampling the Navara off-road for the first time, and not just on rutted, muddy tracks. No no, we're in the wilds of the Sahara Desert in Morocco to see how capable the Navara is.

It's seriously capable. On a mixture of dried river beds, an unpredictable mix of rutted gravel and sand and full-on Saharan dunes, the Navara doesn't miss a beat.

It copes admirably with high-speed sections on loose gravel and sand, remaining planted and secure. The switchable four-wheel drive system also allows for an impressive scrabble along tight and twisting rocky mountain tracks, while the hill-descent control and 360-degree cameras ensure you make it back down with minimal fuss.

In the sand dunes, the Navara really comes into its own. All that's required is a drop in tyre pressures and a degree of driving skill to maintain momentum – driving on this kind of surface really isn’t like anything else. It all combines to give a real sense of invincibility which counts for a lot when you can go for hundreds of miles and not come across anything else, apart from the odd camel or two.

Car-like interior with lots of equipment

Step up into the Navara and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’re inside one of Nissan's road cars, namely the Qashqai and X-Trail. It looks very familiar inside thanks to similar design and the same 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

The plastics all feel more hard-wearing than the cars, which is only a good thing when it’s designed as a workhorse.

Opt for this top-spec Tekna trim and you get a very generous list of standard equipment:

• 18-inch alloy wheels

LED headlights

• 8-way adjustable electric driver’s seat

• Heated leather seats

Rear parking sensors

• NissanConnect media system with seven-inch touchscreen, sat-nav, DAB radio, live traffic updates and reversing camera

• Around View Monitor – 360-degree cameras and birds-eye view

Bluetooth phone connectivity

• Automatic lights and wipers

• Privacy glass

Climate control

Cruise control

Keyless entry with keyless ignition

Verdict

This top-spec version of the Navara may well be expensive at £26,585 + VAT, but its breadth of abilities is seriously convincing.

On the road it’s well-mannered and refined, while the well-equipped, car-like interior means you can use it as an everyday family vehicle, although at over 5m long it isn't going to be the easiest thing to park.

Add in strong towing abilities, a large load bed and impressive off-road ability and you’ve got a great all-rounder. And one that costs just a little bit less to run than before, too.