Like most pick-up manufacturers Nissan does most of its business at the double-cab, lifestyle end of the sector, with customers predominantly drawn in by the top of the range N-Connecta and Tekna models.
The Navara, of course, is the base model for probably the most luxurious pick-up of the lot, the Mercedes X-Class, but while the Nissan’s double-cab line-up starts from £21,950, all prices exclude VAT, the Merc makes its entrance with a price tag of £27,910.
But cheap and cheerful the Navara is not and in the fourth quarter of last year Nissan adorned its model range with the special edition N-Guard, powered by a 2.3-litre 190hp dCi diesel engine married to either a six-speed manual or the seven-speed automatic gearbox driven here. The automatic costs £29,525 before extras and, by way of comparison, the X-Class X350d V6 seven-speed auto, albeit with Mercedes’ 3.0-litre engine as opposed to the 2.3 it inherited from Nissan, will set you back more than £40,000.
While not quite up to the standard of the VW Amarok’s eight speed transmission, the Navara’s seven-speed automatic ‘box is impressive and works well with the 190hp on tap to produce responsive performance. It makes smooth progress eating up motorway miles when engine noise never becomes intrusive and the auto takes the strain out of manoeuvering a big unit around tight city streets. The Navara double-cab’s multi-link rear suspension system ensures decent ride quality in all environments.
A turning circle diameter of 12.4m is slightly wider than the 11.8m of both the Mitsubishi L200 and Ssangyong Musso, not to mention the 12.2m of the Isuzu D-Max, but is the same as that of the Ford Ranger and smaller than the 12.8m of the Toyota Hilux.
The N-Guard’s payload of 1,054kg is middling for the sector, but a tad less than the Hilux and Amarok. Access to the load bed, which measures 1,578mm by 1,560mm (1,130mm between the wheel arches), making it slightly smaller than the Amarok and Ranger but larger than the D-Max and L200, is via a lockable tailgate that drops down into a horizontal position. It is a fact of life with all pick-up trucks but a distance of 815mm from ground to cargo bed floor can make loading heavy items hard work.
The Navara was one of the first pick-ups to get a 3.5t towing capacity and although this is matched by the D-Max, Ranger, Hilux and X-Class, it remains joint class-leading.
The N-Guard tested here came with a black roll cover and bed styling bars for £2,001, a towbar and TEK 13 pin to link the truck and trailor’s electrical components (£416) and protective bedliner (£215).
Inside the N-Guard’s cabin you’ll find the excellent Around View Monitor parking camera Nissan launched on the top trim Navaras to much acclaim in 2016. Engage reverse and not only can you see what is directly behind you, you also have a bird’s-eye view of the vehicle on a split-screen arrangement on the dash. You can also switch the camera on when not in reverse but moving at low speeds. It gives you the ability to spot potential hazards at the kerbside and close to the front of the vehicle more easily.
The satellite navigation and entertainment package includes a DAB digital radio/CD/MP3 player with remote controls on the steering wheel, a seven-inch colour touchscreen, and Bluetooth audio streaming and phone integration. There are also three 12V power sockets in the cab.
An electric sunroof is an indication of the N-Guard’s positioning as a lifestyle model (although this is also featured on Tekna trim level) and other top-end styling features include black 18in alloy wheels, black front grille and roof rails, black LED headlight inlays and fog light surrounds, black wing mirrors and door handles, a body-coloured front bumper, chrome wheel nuts, door step lights, metallic paint, rear privacy glass and a tailgate spoiler.
Returning to the interior and you find e door handles, leather handbrake, steering wheel and gear knob as well as N-Guard black and yellow side decals, N-Guard carpet mats and yellow stitching on the part leather and cloth seats.
An eight-way adjustable driver’s seat together with a height-adjustable steering column makes it easy to find the best driving position and automatic air-conditioning with dual zone climate control aids comfort.
On a practical note, a 16in spare wheel is stowed beneath the rear of the truck.
Nissan Navara N-Guard Double-cab 2.3dCi 190hp auto
Price (ex VAT) £29,525
Price range (ex VAT) £20,154-£29,525
Insurance group 38E
Service intervals 18,000mls
Load length 1,578mm
Load width (min/max) 1,130/1,560mm
Load bay height 474mm
Gross payload 1,054kg
Load volume n/a
Engine size/power 2,298cc/190hp
Combined fuel economy 41.0mpg
The N-Guard fits the bill for lifestyle pick-up customers and should help to keep the Navara in the spotlight as newer models join the sector.