Once a model only considered by those needing a working vehicle, over the years more and more buyers are switching to pick-up trucks as a credible alternative to standard commercial models, or even to conventional family cars.
The Nissan Navara is just one of the models to benefit from this rise in pick-up popularity, although the Japanese firm still accommodates those buyers wanting something built to work, which is why you have the option of the King Cab and Double Cab – the latter being the more popular with its conventional four-door layout.
A broad suite of trim levels are available – including the true ‘go-anywhere’ AT32 Arctic Trucks model and the stylish new N-Guard model.
Nissan offers just one engine on the Navara – a 2.3-litre turbo-diesel engine, which produces 161bhp, or 187bhp with another turbo strapped to it. The more powerful option is limited to the Double Cab, which is the model we got behind the wheel of.
Unsurprisingly, given the Navara’s high kerbweight, the model can feel sluggish at times, although the 187bhp unit does at least offer plenty of power across the rev range, with a 0-60mph time of 10.6 seconds. A six-speed manual gearbox is the default transmission, but a seven-speed automatic gearbox is also offered.
In short, while the Navara’s powertrain will prove to be powerful enough for most, it doesn’t quite deliver the punch of the larger V6 engines that you can have with the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok.
Ride and handling
For a more composed ride, the Double Cab is always the best choice. This model’s sophisticated rear suspension makes the model handle and ride so much better than King Cab versions, which do without this setup.
While there is never an expectation for a pick-up to be good to drive, the Navara undoubtedly feels like one of the more accomplished models to drive in its class. It’s no match for a road car, but the Navara feels planted and stable in the corners, and offers little in the way of body lean. No wonder then that Mercedes chose the Navara setup as the basis to launch its plusher pick-up – the X-Class.
The ride on the Double Cab also feels accomplished and settled, which is something that’s quite uncommon on utilitarian vehicles like pick-ups.
Interior and equipment
While it’s now several years since the latest Navara went on sale, the interior still feels up to its worth.
A car-like interior is one of the highlights, with a cabin layout not too dissimilar from that of the firm’s road cars, which was one of the Japanese manufacturer’s main goals with its latest pick-up. The quality is not up the levels of the Volkswagen Amarok or Mercedes X-Class, but it feels more than capable next to more mainstream rivals from Mitsubishi and Toyota.
A broad range of trim levels are offered on the Navara. The range starts with the Visia, which is as rugged as they get – the few luxuries being a five-inch touchscreen and hill start assist, with the next level up, Acenta, adding 16-inch alloy wheels and keyless start.
The mid-spec Acenta+ will be a good choice for many, with this coming with 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic climate control and a reversing camera. Those wanting more in the way of tech should opt for the N-Connecta, which features an improved infotainment system with satellite navigation, smartphone connectivity and Bluetooth.
Proudly sitting at the top of the range is the Tekna, which features luxuries such as heated front seats, leather upholstery, LED headlights and an around-view monitor.
The range starts at just £25,515 for the rugged King Cab in Visia grade, which would prove ideal for those wanting a true workhorse, with £26,895 being needed for the Double Cab, which is where our money would go. The price jumps to £35,545 for a range-topping Tekna, which does seem quite expensive, especially next to some SUVs, if that’s what buyers are cross shopping with.
However, pick-ups have a lot of perks for businesses. VAT-registered firms can save themselves 20 per cent off the prices mentioned above, while there are big company car perks for pick-ups, too, because these models are classed as commercial vehicles.
The Navara succeeds in being the most car-like pick-up yet from Nissan, which is ideal for customers wishing to switch to something with a more rugged and practical edge.
Its smart interior, decent road dynamics and bold exterior looks will attract plenty of buyers, but for those who primarily want something dependable as working vehicle, those buyers can still be served with the Navara.