Mitsubishi led the way in popularising the rugged vehicles, traditionally the workhorse of choice in the building trade, in the lifestyle sector and for a long time the brand dominated the market with upmarket versions of its L200.
Having seen its success, other manufacturers are now muscling in on the action.
Volkswagen will shortly join the fray with its Amarok followed by Ford with the resurgence of its Ranger. For now though, it is Nissan that has raised its game (not to mention its prices) with the new Navara.
In September last year Nissan added a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine – with 231hp and developing a massive 550Nm of peak torque – to spearhead the Navara line-up. We put the flagship Outlaw V6 Double Cab through its paces.
Not surprisingly, the substantial power on tap quickly becomes apparent, but what is particularly impressive is how smoothly this is transmitted via the seven-speed automatic gearbox with auto or manual shifting. On the open road the Outlaw V6 is a predictably mighty beast, and at motorway speeds, which are reached with consummate ease, noise levels are low and comfort is high.
Cruise control is mounted conveniently on the steering wheel as are radio/CD controls, which is a real plus point compared with the irritatingly fiddly system fitted to arch rival, the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian.
Around about town it is pleasantly docile. The model features electronically selectable four-wheel drive with a low-range setting for the sort of off-roading that most customers probably won’t get around to.
Those opting for the 3.0-litre V6 flagship over the 2.5-litre diesel get a towing capacity of 3000kg compared with 2700kg but service intervals are cut from 18,000 miles to 12,000 miles. The payload on all double cabs is 1090kg.
The in-cabin opulence also impressed. A selection of features from the lengthy list of standard ingredients includes electric sunroof, automatic headlamps, rain-sensing windscreen wipers and leather seats, the front two of which are heated and electric.
The controls are handsomely mounted on a central console and easy to use, and the leather and sober dark-plastic interior imparts a prestige feel. The rear parking camera is excellent, again feeling like a step up in the light commercial vehicle sector, and purveys a sense of confidence that no nasty surprises await when parking.
The Outlaw V6 feels like it has it has raised the bar for pick-ups but it does not come cheap with a basic price of £29,380. The one we drove also had options including metallic paint, carpet mats, bed liner, fixed towbar, 13-pin electrics and 13-pin adapter, which would set you back another £1434. Volkswagen has priced its flagship Amarok Highline at £21,575 and the Mitsubishi L200 Barbarian tops the range at £21,649. They offer less power but for much less cash.