It’s been five years since Nissan launched the Navara pick-up and it’s very close relative the Pathfinder SUV and in that time it’s sold 40,000 of the former and 10,000 of the latter in the UK. They are built alongside each other at the NMISA plant in Barcelona, which also produces the Primastar and NV200 vans.
Five years on and it’s time for a mid-life makeover for the duo. External changes include a new bumpers front and rear — increasing the overall length by 80mm — revised headlamps, new bonnet and grille, and the availability of 18in alloys.
The cab interior has also had a makeover with detail changes to the door panels, seats, dashboard display and reworked switchgear. The top-spec DVD-based sat nav and CD player has been replaced by Nissan’s touch-screen Connect Premium system.
Significant changes have also taken place under the bonnet. The existing 2.5-litre diesel is retained, but has been heavily revised. A new direct injection system operates at 2,000 bar — up from 1,800 bar — there’s a reworked cylinder head and a new variable geometry turbo with electric, rather than hydraulic, control for quicker response times.
Not only is there a rise in power and torque — the former is up 19hp to 190hp, the latter has increased by 47Nm to 450Nm — but fuel consumption and emissions have been lowered. Nissan claims a combined cycle figure of 33.2mpg, an improvement of 4.4mpg, while CO2 emissions have fallen by 40g/km to 224g/km. This engine is available with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic transmission in both Navara and Pathfinder.
The really big news, however, is the availability of a common rail (1,800 bar) 3-litre V6 turbodiesel for Navara. In an unusual move Compacted Graphite Iron is used for the cylinder head instead of cast iron or aluminium alloy. It offers all the benefits of the former without the weight penalty and unlike the latter there is no need to add stiffening ribs or add extra sound-deadening material.
Maximum power is 231hp, but more importantly it develops 550Nm of peak torque from as low as 1,700rpm and is available all the way up to 2,500rpm. Some 500Nm is on tap from 1,500rpm.
Go for this new V6 and there is no choice of gearbox. You get seven-speed automatic with auto or manual shifting; take it or leave it. Combined cycle fuel consumption is quoted as 30.4mpg while CO2 emissions are 246g/km.
Service intervals for the V6 are fairly frequent at 12,000 miles, but the 2.5-litre will be much kinder to the wallet with attention required every 18,000 miles.
Both Navara and Pathfinder feature electronically selectable four-wheel drive with a low range setting for serious off-roading. In the case of the latter, however, there is an ‘Auto’ position which selects two or four-wheel drive in high range with no interference from the driver. When in two-wheel drive it’s the rear wheels providing the traction in both, with help from a limited slip differential.
Brakes are ventilated discs at the front and drums at the rear — Pathfinder gets vented discs all-round — and ABS is standard. In the UK it’s accompanied by ESP.
The front suspension is an independent double wishbone set-up, but at the rear the two siblings differ. Pathfinder uses a similar independent arrangement as the front, but Navara, in typical pick-up fashion, uses a solid rear axle and leaf springs.
As before, Navara remains available as a King and a Double Cab, based on the same wheelbase. Both have four doors, but in the case of the former they are rear-hinged and half width, giving excellent access to the area behind the front seats. Two occasional seats are provided which can be folded up when not in use to provide secure storage space.
Rear bed width and height are 1,560mm and 457mm respectively and the King Cab provides a floor length of 1,861mm; this drops to 1,511mm for the Double Cab.
Gross payload is around 1,100kg for all models and the 2.5-litre versions are capable of towing a 2,700kg braked trailer. Take up the V6 option and this rises to 3,000kg.
Pathfinder’s maximum load length for the 2.2m3 light commercial version — yes, there is going to be one — is 1,975mm with 1,128mm between the wheel boxes. Gross payload will be around 650kg and the towing weight of the 2.5-litre is 3,000kg. There is unlikely to be a SUV or LCV V6 model in the UK, but if there was it’s towing weight would be an impressive 3,500kg.
The specification of the UK Pathfinder Commercial is not available at the time of writing, but the new Navara is available with two levels of equipment; Acenta and Tekna.
The former brings with it remote central locking, alarm, electric windows and door mirrors, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, single CD/radio, C-Channel load restraint system and 17in alloy wheels.
Opt for Tekna and this adds electric front seats with leather trim, sunroof, rain-sensing windscreen wipers, auto headlights, an in-dash six-CD/radio autochanger with steering wheel controls and cruise control with speed limiter.
We took to the foothills of the Spanish Pyrenees in a top-spec Navara V6 Double Cab and 2.5-litre Pathfinder and came away suitably impressed.
The V6 in particular is spectacular with a seemingly endless supply of torque on tap thanks to the sweet seven-speed auto ’box. We very quickly gave up using the manual shift mode and left it to take care of itself.
In this trim it has to be the most civilised ‘light commercial’ on the market and it is no slouch off-road either. It tackled loose-surface mountain roads and river fords with aplomb, although it has to be said that we didn’t have to resort to low range during the driving route.
Despite the lack of a V6 the pathfinder didn’t let itself down either. The additional power and torque of the reworked 2.5-litre endow it with extra ‘bite’ on and off the road. And we have to admit that we just left the drive selector in Auto and it seemed to cope just fine.
We were in a passenger car version — the Van version is specific to the UK and converted locally — and noise levels were well under control, although some of the car journos present thought the engine noise was too high. Don’t worry, it’s fine.
Both vehicles have good steering response and even the rear leaf-sprung Navara has a more than acceptable ride quality. The manual six-speeder in Pathfinder has a light and positive gearchange action.
Navara and Pathfinder are excellent 4x4 light commercials although we suspect the majority of UK buyers will stick with the 2.5-litre in the former. It’s more than up to the job and the additional £6,000 to £7,000 (price has yet to be confirmed) for the V6 and auto ‘box is a wallet-basher. It’s a shame, however, that there is no Single Cab Navara or a more ‘working’ spec level available.