We drove the Nissan NP 300 Navara: a pickup which brings you (very) far…

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The new Nissan NP 300 Navara is already earning (very) high marks with international jury’s: it has won a few weeks ago the coveted “Pickup of the year 2016” prize.

Nissan is poised to (re)gain a very important place in the global pickup market, and last but not least in Belgium and Luxembourg, and all this is reason enough to attend the driving presentation of this Nissan NP 300, which the efficient and dynamic PR team of Nissan Belgium had prepared for us in Wavre, with a very scenic and challenging off road test track amidst the flowing hills of the surrounding countryside.

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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 A very versatile pick up with cross-over character…

The Nissan engineers went to great lengths to offer the Nevara buyer the best of both worlds: the Nevara combines premium level passenger car comfort with excellent off-road versatility and load carrying capacity.

This amply shows in the exterior styling and also the fluent shapes and lavish equipment of the cabin, which clearly oozes premium character.

But also under the skin one sees up market technology. Last but not least there is a multilink rear suspension and state of the art drive train technology, in the shape of progressive diesel engine design, coupled to the latest solutions in manual and auto transmissions.

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We sat behind the wheel of the most powerful diesel version coupled to the 7 speed auto box, with of course the 4WD lay-out. This Nevara proved its worth on the abovementioned off-road test track.

 Rugged refinement

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Sliding behind the wheel of our test car, it was no effort to find the right seating position, and start off for our drive. The 140 kW twin turbo 2.3 liter dCi diesel engine, basically also available in a 120 kW power option with single turbo, is quite refined and docile, with plenty of pulling power, as is shown by the maximum torque of 450 Nm. This smooth power is expertly channeled to the two or four wheels through an excellent 7 speed auto box. The unit is also claimed to be very economical, with consumption from 6,4 liters/100 km onwards, or CO2 emissions from 169 g/km.

Choosing between two or four wheel drive in high mode is a breeze, and is done by just turning the round selector knob, which is of course also possible during driving up to speeds of 100 km/h.

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Ingrid Lockley, LCV Product Specialist Nissan Belux, made the presentation, together with PR Communications Director Marie-Louise Van Dyck (below) at the premises of the Nissan dealer ITAL at Chaussée de Louvain 510-514 in 1300 Wavre.

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On the open road, the Nevara revealed itself as a comfortable cruiser, donned with an excellent chassis and suspension, which not only copes admirably with rough roads, but displays also quite stable and entertaining handling. Indeed, on a curvy stretch the Nevara proved well up to the task, and long, fast bends could be taken with speed without fuss.

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It proved us once again how a well balanced chassis can behave admirably in these circumstances, and offer quite predictable, precise handling. Just like a big Bentley blower from the ’30’s, and it took just a little bit of imagination to see us steer through the esses on the famous circuit of le Sarthe behind the big wheel of these famous imposing thoroughbreds, when actually we sat behind the wheel of this Nevara…

Indeed, the all-new coil-spring five-link rear suspension system for the Double Cab model, provides significantly improved ride comfort and improved handling. As an additional benefit, it’s also 20kg lighter than the previous leaf spring layout.

Driving in dense urban traffic was also a smooth and effortless exercise, where the good overall visibility of the bodywork also proved its worth.

Off-road master…

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The four-wheel drive system builds on the strengths of the previous generation model to deliver its well-known surefooted traction over rough terrain. Noteworthy is that the 4WD low range can also be selected “on the fly”, but there is more. The four-wheel drive models are fitted with Hill Descent Control (HDC) as standard. Activated by pressing a button on the centre console, the system uses a network of sensors to detect wheel slip and traction – automatically maintaining speed and brake pressure to help provide a controlled descent. Drivers can increase the speed on descent by pressing gently on the accelerator.

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Hill Start Assist (HSA) is another feature that Nissan has pioneered the use of in its crossover models. The system has been adapted to suit the specific requirements and load carrying ability of the NP300 Navara and offers peace of mind to drivers, certainly those towing heavy trailers. HSA keeps the brakes applied to help prevent the vehicle from rolling backwards on a slope when starting on an incline – disengaging automatically after 2-3 seconds.

On the off-road test track, putting the Nevara through its paces proved child’s play, with more than 80 pct of the whole section driven in 2WD mode(!).

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The dynamic Nissan PR Team had prepared for us a healthy (and sweet) breakfast at the Nissan dealer ITAL in Wavre. Our test car stands here in front of the photo…

Bodywork versions and equipment

Produced at Nissan’s manufacturing plant in Barcelona, the NP300 Navara comes in both King Cab and Double Cab guises, and features four trim grades: Visia, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna – with all offering exceptionally high equipment levels. Every model comes with seven airbags, electronic braking differential, off-road electronic aids such as hill start assist, and of course power windows.

The top end version comes with 360° parking aid for instance, the so-called Nissan Around View Monitor, Bleutooth streaming and Led headlights.

We look forward to lay our hands on one of these Nevara’s soon, and tell you more about its impressive qualities…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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