Category: Nissan

Nissan Navara Driven Review in South Africa

Nissan Navara

Nissan Navara Driven Review

The South African double cab bakkie market is easily on of the most tightly contested vehicle segments in SA, with South Africans being one of the largest fans of the utilitarian aspects of being able to lug around nearing one tonne of payload and three times that via a tow hitch.  This has allowed the top contenders, in the form of the Ford Ranger and Toyota’s iconic Hilux to constantly shift in the realm of 3 000 units each month, both over 3 times that of the third and fourth placed Nissan Hardbody and Isuzu KB.

This is overall contrasted with tough economic times, that have resulted in the underlying fact that the utilitarian aspects come with the typical bakkie bouncy ride, noisy diesel motors and cramped rear seats that are not ideal traits for the every day, especially since the second daily small car is fast becoming a dream. The packages are improving in line with this shift to more of an everyday usage focused vehicle, but still hindered by the use of load-friendly leaf spring set up, in all but one – enter the new Nissan Navara. Understanding this fluid use of the vehicle that mainly encompasses traffic jams rather than the extreme off-road expedition, Nissan engineers have ditched the traditional bakkie setup for that of a more driver friendly multi-link coil over set-up.

This has set bakkie aficionado’s up in arms, with the general consensus being Nissan ruined the Navara. Admittedly after getting very well acquainted with the bakkie, I must share, that they have indeed ruined the Navara, ruined the choppy ride, ruined the rough engine and ruined the ‘old school’ feel of the bakkie, all gone and replaced with a modern cabin, and a versatile package. The Navara is incredibly good at the everyday ‘leisurely’ activity that is traffic, driving to and from work and even gravel roads. The ride is easily the best in class, better than even the exceedingly German VW Amarok.  

CABIN

The interior of the Navara is incredibly well-appointed with standard features on SE models including a touch screen Sat Nav system with CD player, AM/FM Radio, AUX, USB and Bluetooth connectivity with steering mounted audio controls. Top spec LE models get leather interior, electric & heated seats, keyless entry and start, reverse camera, rear PDC and LED daytime running lights.

Nissan Navara

The interior is upmarket and comfortable. It feels comparable to a premium SUV rather than a bakkie and offers very good space front and rear, the level of standard spec is really impressive and does a good job of helping you forget about the bakkie roots. It’s incredibly refined and cancels out wind noise, vibrations and harshness – easily class leading in this aspect

DRIVETRAIN

Powered by a twin-turbo 2.3-litre engine that has 140 kW and 450 N.m, it’s happiest when cruising along at freeway speeds. Overtaking power is good and the low down torque from 1 500-2 500 RPM offers incredible tractability and in town, builds speed very quickly with little effort. The only complaint is the noise when overtaking as the engine does get a little loud when pressing on, but this is a very small gripe. The claimed fuel consumption figure of 6.5 l/100km is rather optimistic with a best of 9.1 l/100km in the combined cycle being more realistic. The 7-speed Automatic is also smooth and feels like a good match to the engine, although some adjustment must be made when cruising as the gearbox will often gear down when accelerating with anything other than ¾ throttle, even when you don’t intend on such, likely more orientated to accommodate 3.5-ton towing capacity.

Nissan Navara

4X4 TOYS

The new Navara is again class leading in the approach and departure angles offering 33 degrees, on the former and  27.9 degrees the latter. Ground clearance sits at 226 mm, which is impressive but may be hampered by the standard side steps. Low range, diff-lock, and selectable 4WD are standard fair and the electrical goodies like hill ascent and descent control come with the territory.

The New Navara is an incredibly good bakkie and with a starting price for R514 900 for the Double Cab 2.3 SE, offers very good value for money for those not overly focused on the bakkie aspects of the vehicle.  The range will expand later to include other offerings but at this point, the pick of the bunch is the top spec 2.3 LE 4×4 Auto.

ALTERNATIVES

Top sellers in the form of the Ford Ranger in its 3.2TDCI D/Cab XLT 4×4 guise – R588 900 the 2.8GD-6 4×4 Raider AT Toyota Hilux – R576 400, are the most direct competitors, but the most “car like” offering and possibly the most direct comparison would be the VW Amarok D/Cab BiTdi 4Motion Highline Auto – R590 600, as it offers the most comfortable ride and most leisure orientated cabin .

 

Nissan Navara Pricing in South Africa

2.3 SE 4×2 ManualR514 900

2.3 LE 4X4 Manual  – R565 900

2.3 LE 4×4 AutoR584 900

 

Nissan showcased their new Navara at NAMPO

Nissan Navara at NAMPO

Nissan Navara at NAMPO

The last place we thought we would find ourselves in, was an agricultural show. Good thing then this was not any old show, rather it’s the largest agricultural show in the southern hemisphere. The show is called NAMPO and each year, thousands of people flock to Bothaville in the Free State,  to see the latest and greatest in farming technology. Of course there are many factors that come into play when farming, some which require small machines and others that require machines big enough to make a 6ft man look like an infant. The weird and wonderful world of agriculture is as fascinating as ever, especially for a born and raised city dweller such as myself. In my world milk comes from Woolies and special breads come from my weekly visits to the Fourways Farmer’s Market.

So what does this have to do with cars you may wonder? Well for starters cars or rather Bakkies are the backbone of farm life. Without a Bakkie, it may get difficult to do farm stuff, whatever that is…In all seriousness though, a strong workhorse is needed for the gravel roads, towing and loading required to run a farm. This is why you’ll see amazing displays from the likes of ISUZU, Toyota, Volkswagen and Nissan. Nissan decided to invite us to explore this exhibition with them as they had a very important vehicle to showcase at this show. The new Navara is a car we drove and were impressed by a few months ago. One of the main reasons why we enjoyed it so much was because it is one of the few bakkies in the market that do the whole “lifestyle” thing very well. As a daily commuter with no load at the back, it’s very comfortable and has minimum bounciness, mainly due to its unique suspension.

For years now Bakkie’s have used a traditional leaf spring setup, which works beautifully when loaded. The problem is that when there is no load at the back, certain pick-ups tend to hop, skip and jump, making for a rather interesting drive. The Navara on the other hand, has a coil setup, which is like what a normal car uses. As a result, your back and nerves do enjoy the comfort levels offered. So for Nissan, a show like NAMPO is extremely important because the farming community plays a large role in Bakkie sales. At the Nissan display, there was a “naked” Navara, showing viewers exactly how the new suspension worked. A variety of customised Navara’s were also on display, one in particular with a matte green wrap and some bits on it that would make most Sandton “off-road experts” salivate. The trend to have a 4×4 that looks guerrilla ready is on the rise, so that particular Navara would fit right in parked outside Tasha’s on a Saturday morning. That being said, those who will use their Navara’s on sketchy terrains will love the additions you can bestow on your car. Features like a raised suspension, roll bars, nudge bars and more will ensure that you’re next African escapade will be a breeze.

It is a fact that the farming industry plays a major role in an economy and South Africa’s agricultural industry is no exception. The fact that thousands of people attend a show like NAMPO proves just advanced we are in South Africa when it comes to farming. Seeing all these machines was a real eye opener for me, as we don’t often know what goes into making those juicy patties we eat on our burgers, or the pap we all love. It’s good to know that these farmers have the right support when it comes the vehicles they need to do their jobs properly. If your Bakkie can cut it at NAMPO you must be doing something right, because whatever products are displayed are up for major scrutiny from industry experts. As a motor journalist I can tell you how nice a Navara drives on the road, but it’s these farmers that can tell you if your Bakkie will see the next decade or not.   

Nissan Qashqai Driven Review in South Africa

We test drive the Nissan Qashqai

Once upon a time, a manufacturer decided to make a 4×4 that wasn’t actually a 4×4 and the rest became history. Few people could have predicted the success of the crossover when the Nissan Qashqai supposedly invented the segment in 2006. Well over a million Qashqai’s and a bajillion other crossovers later, the second generation Nissan Qashqai takes over from where the benchmark in its segment left off, building on its many strengths.

When replacing the original Qashqai, Nissan certainly had their work cut out for them but thanks to much improved build quality and styling, the Qashqai now gives off a much more premium feel than its predecessor. Good quality materials and very few rattles make the cabin a very nice place to be and while you won’t be writing abstract poems professing the innate beauty of its swooping plastic features or nice-to-push buttons, everything works just as it should, all while giving a pleasing tactile feeling.

Power comes from an array of motors, ranging from 1.2-litre turbo-petrols to 1.6-litre turbo-petrols and diesels. The model we had on test was the mid-range 1.5dCi Acenta Manual with 81 kW and 260 N.m although the laggy torque delivery and gear lever’s long throws came nowhere close to mirroring the vehicle’s sporty and dynamic looks. Frightfully economical, though, we averaged around 5.0 l/100 km over the period of a week which in the real world isn’t too far off the manufacturer’s claim of 4.2 l/100km.

Spec wise, the Acenta model we had comes standard with Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, a trip computer, xenon headlights, 6 airbags, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, auto-lights and windscreen wipers and the usual electronic aids.

A 6 year/150 000km warranty comes standard across the range, as does a 3 year/90 000km service plan.

Nissan Qashqai pricing in South Africa

Pricing starts at R354 900 for the 1.2T Acenta and rises to R454 900 for the top-spec 1.6dCi Acenta Auto. The model we tested is priced at R382 900 and is definitely the sweet spot in the range.

While the second-generation Nissan Qashqai has been on sale in South Africa for roughly 3 years now, it is still a very relevant product, more than capable of competing with some of its newer competitors. Despite the fact that its sporty looks are a bit deceiving, the Qashqai as a whole is a good quality product that reminds us of why the world fell in love with the original in the first place.

Nissan, good job.

 

Who said a half tonner can’t be cool?: Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven

 Nissan NP 200 ICE Driven Review in South Africa

 

Never in a million years would’ve I have thought a half tonne bakkie would be something that appeals to me. Honestly these kind of cars are usually bought out of need, not want. Perhaps you’ve started a small business and you need something that’s going to keep going and going. Or you’re the kind of guy that loves to spend time outdoors? Either way a half tonner can solve all your problems.

For me to fully understand the appeal of this car, I had to put myself in the shoes of someone who needed one. The ICE version of the NP 200 is what we were given and honestly, at first I thought it looked corny. It was only after five minutes of driving the thing did I appreciate not being behind the wheel of a plain white one, as there are some many on the road.

 

How Does It Drive?

The ICE edition comes with some nice features such as a front nudge bar to end move taxis out your way. It then has a sporty looking set of wheel, leather seats and blue paint to show the world how “cool” you are. It also comes in silver paint if the blue is too out there for you. The best thing about driving such a bakkie is that the size of it makes it very “get up and go”. It’s really a car that you don’t think too hard about driving because it’s so small. The ICE edition we drove was the 1.5 litre DCI engine which is like a little Jack Russell, it nips at the heels of other drivers in traffic. With only 62kW/128Nm, the lightweight body of the car makes it feel like more. It also seems to run on magic as I battled to get the fuel gauge to move, despite running around aimlessly trying fill the load bin. The ICE is also available with a 1.6 litre petrol engine which should be quite good, but won’t have the great torque spike that the diesel has.

 

In my attempt at trying to be a half tonne bakkie owner, I found myself with the urge to move stuff. I became a pest to my friends, offering to move a desk, dispose of the trash etc etc, to see how much stuff I can fit in. I do occasionally cycle so even my worn out ride bike got a chance to see how effective the NP200 ICE. The rubberised bin is a nice standard feature from Nissan as a scratched up load bin is the equivalent to a grandmothers cracked heels, not nice to look at and difficult to fix

Final Thoughts

Overall I can say I was quite pleased with this little bakkie. It’s the bakkie you’ll want if during the week you run a small business and in the weekend you need to live with the car. The NP200 has a  decent radio and air-conditioning system and a punchy little engine. It’s still very much a no frills car even though it offers all the frills in the range.

For those business orientated guys, you’ll be happy to know that you have a 6 year/150 000km warranty on the car, so you can put this little workhorse to work. I for one can see why some families have one of these half tonners in their garage. From a practicality perspective, it’s always handy having something small with loading capacity at your disposal. The NP200’s father, the iconic Nissan 1400 would be proud to see it’s kid following in daddies footsteps. It’s a great little thing indeed.  

 

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Nissan Navara Launches In South Africa

We Drive The New Nissan Navara With Its 5 Link Suspension System.

Can you remember the type of person you were, or what you were doing in your life twelve years ago? In twelve years, I have left high school, dabbled in higher education, moved continents and tied the proverbial knot. I am a walking example, then, that a lot can happen in twelve years. That is the same period of time that has lapsed since the launch of the original Navara, so one could say that it was high time that they launch a new one.

Things are always on the move in the automotive world – from a brand’s perspective, being left behind can happen in the flash of an eye should the manufacturer decide to rest on their laurels or even just cease to remain relevant. This is the biggest threat to the new Nissan Navara in South Africa – have their previous customers moved on? Have consumers forgotten about the bakkie that was once considered one of the best? Making the situation worse is the fact that the South African launch on the new Navara has come nearly 2 years after it was launched to the rest if the world, so the all-new Navara certainly had a mountain to climb, so to speak.

According to Nissan, the reason for this is that South Africa has much harsher road conditions and as such, the new Navara needed to be adapted. Interesting, then, that this doesn’t seem to be a problem for every other manufacturer…

It’s fair to say then that the new Nissan Navara needs to be an excellent product in order to regain the attention of the South African market. Nissan knows this, which is why the Navara is not just newer and prettier, it also has a trick up its sleeve.

This trick is 5-link suspension system, which is a very clever trick indeed. Traditionally on bakkies, the leaf spring suspension system has always been the option manufacturers headed for. It’s an older system which consists of large steel bands which compress under load and when under this load, they also provide more brake pressure. This sort of system does decent job, but only really when the vehicle is under load.

Many can attest, however, to the rather unpleasant and bouncy nature of that conventional bakkie ride that we don’t really adore, with rearward instability being the rotten cherry on top.

Bakkies are no longer just work vehicles and have become lifestyle cars that need to tick more than just the rough and ready box. Single athletes, adventurous couples, camping families and owners of sandals all love the versatility and perceived safety as well as the spaciousness of bakkies. So it’s only right, then, that as the market for these vehicles evolves, so does the technology behind them.

The Nissan Navara is the first in its segment to feature this type of suspension system and there are many benefits, such as better handling and a more stability – we experienced this on a high speed dirt road at the Navara local launch and it felt very stable and most notable was the absence of the loose rear end.

If you’d like a little in depth detail on the 5-link suspension system, Practical Motoring explain it very well here.

Other changes to the Navara included an optional new 7-speed automatic gearbox, with the 6-speed manual being the standard option. These are both mated to a 2.3-litre 4-pot diesel, producing 140 kW/405 N.m. It’s not the most powerful bakkie on the market, but those figures are plenty, especially with the torque peaking low in the rev range at 1 500 rpm.

Overall then, the Navara is a very attractive vehicle and just as its predecessor did 12 years ago, impresses with its interior and exterior design. It’s also bigger than before, has more interior space and has a total weight reduction of 176 kg.

Having spent many hours behind the wheel of the new Navara during the launch which involved a beautiful coastal route from Cape Town to Lamberts Bay, we can confidently say that the Navara took it all in its stride. The overall dynamics, styling and feel of the car most certainly bring to mind the characteristics of an SUV.

With the pricing starting at R514 000, it is also very competitively priced within segment and I personally feel that even though there has been a very long wait for this vehicle, it has what it takes to recapture the attention of the market. This has already been proven by the fact that Nissan have sold over 300 Navaras since the launch in mid-march.

Full pricing is as follows, with the 4×2 double-cap expected to reach SA near the end of 2017.

Pricing and range

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 SE Double Cab MT – R514 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDTT 4×4 LE Double Cab –MT – R565 900 (incl. VAT)

Nissan Navara 2.3 DDT 4×4 LE Double Cab AT –R597 900 (incl. VAT)

 

Black leather seats with heater function optional on LE grade models for R13 000 (incl. VAT).