REVIEW DATE: 22 Jun 2007
Nissan's Navara Pick-Up Is A Commercial Vehicle But In Luxurious Aventura Guise, You Wouldn't Necessarily Know It. Steve Walker Reports
It wasn't so long ago that gap between the typical UK market pick-up truck and a family 4x4 passenger car was a vast chasm, a infinite gulf of differing values and capabilities. They were like chalk and cheese, black and white, Mike Tyson and John Inman. One had leather seats, the other vinyl, one came loaded with advanced technology, the other had mechanicals that were advanced, but only in years. The pick-up was a simple working vehicle, the family 4x4 was a fashionable lifestyle accessory and that was that. Then models like the latest Nissan Navara massively raised the pick-up's game and distinctions that were once stark have been blurred. In range-topping Aventura guise, the Navara can out-spec a Land Rover Discovery.
The improvement in quality that we're witnessing in the UK pick-up market is partly due to the major protagonists all coming to the end of their lengthy lifespans at the same time and being replaced by more modern vehicles, but there's also the little issue of tax. As a commercial vehicle, the Nissan Navara offers tax benefits both to company car users and to businesspeople. A self-employed person buying one through their business can reclaim the VAT on the purchase price and motorists choosing one as their company car only pay a flat rate of tax that's much cheaper than the Benefit In Kind charges levied on passenger car drivers. The pick-up has grown in popularity because of these factors and with people increasingly buying them for use as family transportation rather than as commercial vehicles, the manufacturers have been gradually offering models with more and more opulent specifications. The Nissan Navara Aventura is just about the poshest UK market pick-up you can lay your hands on at the moment and so it represents the current state of this working vehicle's gentrification.
At this point, you'll be wanting to know exactly what you get for the £21,500 (ex VAT) it takes to secure a Double Cab Aventura, so here goes. There's climate control, remote control central locking, automatic headlamps, headlamp washers, rain sensing windscreen wipers, a trip computer, cruise control and a 6-CD autochanger but these features are also included on the Navara Outlaw which is a step down the ladder from the Aventura. In addition to these items, Aventura buyers also benefit from an MP3-compatible premium audio system, DVD-based satellite navigation and Bluetooth phone connectivity. Group these features together and they are known as the Hitech Pack - an optional extra which can be specified on lesser Navara models for a £1,700 premium but which is standard on the Aventura. Furthermore, the Premium Pack (a £1,375 option on the Outlaw) is also included as standard. This features an electric glass sunroof, front, side and curtain airbags, leather trim and heated, electrically adjustable seats. This level of specification would have been totally alien to pick-up buyers a few years ago, but not any more.
"The Nissan Navara Aventura is just about the poshest UK market pick-up you can lay your hands on"
The Navara Aventura is only offered in Double Cab form which means that there are four access points into the cab and a full rear bench behind the two front seats. The Double Cab benefits from roof rails, which do not feature on the smaller King Cab models, along with imposing 17" alloy wheels and the bold Nissan 4x4 family grille. There's the option of 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic gearboxes mated to the impressive 174bhp 2.5-litre common-rail diesel engine. The Navara is actually based on Nissan's Pathfinder family 4x4 which goes someway to explaining the quality of its interior and the level of technology featured.
The Navara hasn't only made steps forward in becoming a more comfortable and luxurious proposition. It's also a more practical vehicle than its pick-up forebears. Storage space in the cabin, never a strong point for any of the previous generation of pick-ups, has been improved through the inclusion of a 6.0-litre box in the centre console and twin gloveboxes in front of the passenger. There are also specialist spaces for coins, cups and cards along with a neat sunglasses holder which folds down from a console in the roof. The door pockets are much larger than before and the seats in the Double Cab can be folded into various positions to further boost the capacity. Aventura buyers also get the C-Channel system which is comprised of five rails mounted into the loadbay sides and floor. These can accommodate special cleats which slide along and lock into place to provide lashing points for securing loads.
The Navara's powertrain may well be its most impressive feature. The vehicle is powered by a version of Nissan's tried and tested 2.5-litre diesel engine. This unit uses second generation common-rail injection technology with a variable nozzle turbocharger and twin counter rotating balancer shafts. The net result of all this is increased efficiency and refinement but the big plus comes in terms of raw power. Buyers used to UK market pick-ups with between 100 and 130bhp will feel their eyebrows raising at the Navara's 171bhp output. There's a massive 403Nm of torque too which gives the Navara real prowess as a towing vehicle. It will actually tow 2.6 tonnes and carry 1,097kg in its load bay but, if you unhitch the trailer and unload whatever you've got in the rear, it will also average over 33mpg.
All Navara models get Nissan's proven part-time 4x4 system. All drive goes to the rear wheels under normal conditions but torque is split equally to all four wheels when 4x4 mode is engaged via a dashboard-mounted dial. There's a low ratio mode for serious offroad work too and, with this setting selected, drivers have the option of employing an electronic rear diff lock to extricate themselves from really sticky situations.
In terms of specification, the Navara Aventura puts many family 4x4s in the shade but it is still a pick-up truck despite all the passenger car refinements. The tough leaf springs on the rear that enable it to carry weighty loads also make for a bumpier ride than you'd get in a decent family 4x4 but the ride and handling are both far better than in pick-ups of the past. Most Aventura customers will be buying the vehicle as everyday transport and when used in this way, it's a comfortable and extremely versatile product.
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|OVERALL||7.3 OUT OF 10|
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