The UK’s pick-up buyers will have no lack of choice over the coming years as a raft of new models from manufacturers both well established in the segment to a host of trucks from new players vie for supremacy.
Nissan, with its Navara, of course, is one of the market’s stalwarts that will be aiming to see off the band of Johnny come latelys.
It is a feather in the brand’s cap that two of the newcomers, as well as providing competition, are basing their models on the new NP300 Navara: Alliance partner Renault is to introduce a version of the Navara under the Alaskan banner early next year and Mercedes is to enter the sector in 2018 with its own re-badged NP300 derivative.
The launch of the 12th generation Navara is timely, the previous vintage was getting long in the tooth and losing ground to its existing rivals – it was beaten by the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200, Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-max in taking an 11.5% share of the market last year.
With the NP300, Nissan is confident it has upped its game in terms of styling, engineering, fuel efficiency and technology and it has got in early enough to make its mark before the competition intensifies with new product arrivals. On sale since February, only the new Mitsubishi L200, launched in September 2015, beat it to market.
One of the big changes is under the bonnet where Nissan has jettisoned the old 2.5-litre diesel engine and replaced it with the 2.3 dCi diesel that is also found in the NV400 large van having originated in the Renault Master.
In the NP300 it puts out either 160hp or 190hp and the more powerful option is the first twin-turbo engine Nissan has used in a light commercial vehicle.
The truck is up for grabs in both 4x2 and 4x4 modes and with six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions (in 190hp versions only for an extra £1417, all prices exclude VAT).
Customers can also take their pick of a two-door king cab or four-door double cab variant but a single-cab derivative is not available.
Nissan has dipped into its expertise in the SUV market with models such as the Xtrail and Qashqai to improve the NP300’s refinement and ride quality. Consequently, double cab models get a sophisticated new multi-link (five-link) with coil spring rear suspension in a bid to eradicate the bump and bounce usually associated with travelling in a pick-up – particularly when unladen. The workhorse King-cab retains leaf springs.
In my experience of driving our double-cab so far, the manufacturer has largely succeeded in taking the funfair rollercoaster element out of the ride quality (although rear seat passengers may beg to differ) and it certainly compares favourably to other models in this regard – the L200 included.
When it comes to trim customers are spoilt for choice with five levels now on offer, the second top N-Connecta being new to the line-up.
Prices for double-cabs, which are all 4WD, start from £20,043 for the utilitarian Visia, step up to £20,688 for Acenta, (both £833 more than the King-cabs) £22,084 for Acenta+, £22,793 for N-Connecta and peak at £24,293 for the flagship Tekna.
The Mitsubishi L200, available as yet only in double-cab mode, has a price range of £19,749 to £25,199 while the Ford Ranger starts from £18,571 and rises to £26,177
The Navara’s three top trims all get the 190hp engine and the Tekna, with manual transmission, is the one on our fleet.
First impressions of the powertrain are that it delivers impressive performance and pulling power but is not the quietest or most refined, if the mighty roar it emits when accelerating is anything to go by.
When it comes to fuel economy Nissan has dramatically improved the Navara’s performance, making Mitsubishi’s claim to be the greenest pick-up of the bunch short-lived. Whereas the previous generation truck achieved just 33.6mpg on the combined cycle, the Tekna boasts an official 44.1mpg compared to the L200 Barbarian’s 42.8mpg.
|Nissan NP300 Navara Tekna 190hp|
|Official combined consumption 44.1mpg|
|Our average consumption mpg|
|Price (ex VAT) £24,293|
|Service intervals 2yrs/18,000mls|
|Load length 1578mm|
|Load width(min/max) 1130/1560mm|
|Gross payload 1047kg|
|Engine size 2298cc/190hp|
|On sale February 2016|
|Options (ex VAT)|
|Hardtop Premium £3,300|
|Rubber door mats £55.00|
|Aluminium entry guards £89.00|
|Load bed protection £360.00|