Cross an SUV with a small truck, says car tester Sascha Knapp, and you get a pickup. In the past, that hasn't really been an option for most Europeans. To change that, Nissan has made the newest generation of the Navara more comfortable and more suitable for families.
Pickups are old hat in the United States. But they're a new trend in Germany. More and more manufacturers are producing versions adapted to European driving conditions. The great popularity of SUVs has accustomed European drivers to the offroad look. Some automakers can hardly produce enough SUVs to meet demand. And now pickups are available, too.
Sascha says inventing the Qashqai compact crossover was a bonanza for Nissan. It sold like hot cakes, and Nissan hopes this pickup do the same. Here in the Navara, he says, it's easy to forget what kind of vehicle you're in. The dashboard is reminiscent of an SUV. And like in an SUV, the seating position is high, providing a good overview in traffic.
The NP300 Navara's handling has greatly improved, as well. It may be 5-point-3-3 meters long, but the Japanese vehicle3 doesn't take corners like a truck. With a turning circle of 12-point-4 meters, it's much smoother and more agile than its predecessor -- thanks to the newly developed multi-link rear suspension, which is also 20 kilograms lighter than the old rigid axle with leaf springs. The old model's suspension technology felt like that of a stagecoach!
But the back seats hardly take a backseat, either, jokes Sascha. Their angle has increased from 18 to 23 degrees, so they're quite comfortable, too. You have legroom and head room -- the roof is 1-point-5-7 meters high.
So how does the Navara measure up as a utility vehicle?
Its 1-point-5-4-meter long flatbed can bear a load weighing a ton. So it can transport 42 sacks of cement, 1,000 liters of water, or 2-point-2 cubic meters of wood.
And its towing capacity is 3-point-5 tons.
To produce that much power, Nissan gave the pickup a 2-point-3-liter diesel engine with two power levels. One delivers 120 kilowatts, the other 140. Nissan says the NP300 Navara uses 24 percent less fuel than its predecessor. At the moment, its diesel engines fulfill only the Euro 5 norm. In the fall, they'll be converted to meet the EU 6 norm.