FOR those needing a working vehicle that will double as the family transport there has never been more choice and the all-new Nissan Navara NP300 is a pick-up truck that should definitely be on your shortlist.

Nissan produced their first pick-up back in 1935 so they had plenty of experience to draw on when designing the new Navara which is available in both King Cab configuration with tiny, rear-hinged back doors and fold-down rear seats or the more family-friendly Double Cab layout which provides regular 3-seat accommodation and full-sized rear doors.

There is just the one engine available – a 2.3 litre diesel unit in either single-turbo 160PS guise or the more powerful twin-turbo 190PS. Either way it’s a well-proven, rugged unit capable of up to 46.3mpg.

The model range consists of 5 trim-levels starting with the Navara Visia (from £24,480 inc. VAT) which includes such goodies as Bluetooth, multi-function steering wheel, cruise control, Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control (4WD), an electronic Limited Slip Differential and a 5in. HD full colour TFT screen combimeter. The Double Cab version also gets a 5-link rear suspension for a comfier ride and Intelligent Emergency Braking which will also bring down the insurance premium.

The Navara Acenta (fom £26,280 inc. VAT) adds some exterior styling as well as 16in alloys, Nissan Intelligent Key and push-button Start. There is also a chrome rear step bumper and the excellent C-Channel moveable tie-down points for the load bay.

Navara Acenta+ (from £28,980 inc. VAT) provides 18in alloys, auto air-con (dual zone), side-steps, a reversing camera and rear privacy glass.

If media connection is your thing then you’ll want the Navara N-Connecta (from £29,830 inc. VAT) which includes NissanConnect Sat Nav and entertainment system with smartphone integration and Bluetooth audio streaming.

Finally there is the Navara Tekna (from £31,630 inc. VAT) which also gets you a 360-degree monitor, leather seats, LED headlights, roof rails, heated front seats and rear parking sensors.

All Double Cab versions get part-time 4WD and the option of a 7-speed auto gearbox, while the manual-only King Cab can be optioned with 2WD-only.

I’ve been driving a Navara N-Connecta Double Cab with the more powerful 190PS diesel engine and manual gearbox. It is in a very striking Savannah Yellow metallic paint and includes a couple of options: A Rear Differential Lock at £500 and a Premium Hardtop for £3,300.

As you would expect it looks a bit of a beast, especially that battering-ram front end. However, this is true of all the Navara’s rivals. The Mitsubishi L200, VW’s Amarok, the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Hilux are all quite aggressive in their looks as well as their stance.

And the stance is tall. You climb up into the cab rather than step into the cab like you would in a regular SUV and once there you have a commanding view of the road ahead.

The load bed is lined in a thick plastic to help keep things from getting very tatty very quickly and the sliding cleats for tie-downs work very well. The Navara can carry a full tonne load in the bed and can also tow 3.5 tonne if needed.

The rather expensive Hardtop fitted very well with no rattles and I was impressed that it also integrated with the central-locking. It is also glazed front and rear so the rear view isn’t blocked out. Beware low-slung cars getting quite close though as they can disappear below the window level.

While the hardtop certainly makes the rear bed much more secure for storing tools, etc. it is rather low and therefore restrictive when it comes to taller objects.

Once up and into the cab you’ll find plenty of space both for yourself, your passenger and any items you may wish to store away. The glove box is particularly spacious and there are deep door bins for holding a tablet computer and more. There is also a storage space behind the central cup-holders and 2 hidden storage bins beneath the rear seats.

Both front seats are comfortable and adjustable enough for long journeys and I found the driving position good with everything falling easily to hand. The leather-covered, multi-function steering wheel feels robust enough as do the plastic surfaces of the cab which are pleasant enough to look at but still feel quite hard compared to what you may find in a Qashqai or X-Trail.

The main instruments are clear with a 5in TFT multi-display between them that is easy to work and gives the usual info: average speed, mpg, trip info and eco-driving info.

Pictures by Tony Whittle

The 7in infotainment system includes NissanConnect 2.0 Sat Nav and a reversing camera as well as smartphone app integration, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity. It looks a little dated but the screen is responsive enough and the most-frequently used features have decent-sized push-buttons arranged around the screen for easy access.

Rear passengers fare very well in the Double Cab Nissan Navara with plenty of leg room and head room that easily accommodates those over 6-foot.

With a multi-link rear suspension rather than the old-fashioned leaf-spring setup of the King Cab, the Double Cab Navara rides the lumps and bumps of our roads very well with no significant rebounding over undulations to make rear passengers feel queasy – even with an empty load bay.

I wouldn’t say the Nissan Navara is as good to drive as your average SUV or Crossover, of course, after all it is a working vehicle first and foremost. You are always aware of its size, both in length and weight.

The Navara will truck-on down the motorway quite easily, although with significant wind noise from those large door mirrors. At speed it feels very stable and quite relaxed with responsive steering while A-road blasts are not so much fun as all that weight is bound to play a part in trying to get around corners quickly. Don’t get me wrong – for a pick-up the Navara is relatively well composed when changing direction quickly – just don’t expect defy the laws of physics.

Switch the rotary traction dial from 2WD to 4WD though and much fun can be had off-road as the Navara excels on tough terrain and a half-mile stretch of steep, broken-road I navigated in the Peak District was despatched easily without having to revert to low-range.

All in all the Nissan Navara NP300 is a work-horse with a plush saddle. Buyers moving from a conventional hatchback and thinking about an SUV would be much better served with the likes of the Nissan X-Trail or SEAT Ateca. But those who need to shift and load heavy gear on a regular basis and don’t want to destroy the inside of their SUV will find a lot to like here. Just make sure you have a long driveway.

RATING: ****

AT A GLANCE:

Nissan Navara N-Connecta Double Cab

OTR Price: £29,830

Engine: 2.3 turbo diesel

Power: 190 bhp

Transmission: 6-speed manual

0-62mph: 10.8 secs

Top Speed: 114 mph

Combined Economy: 44.9 mpg

3 thoughts on “Nissan Navara N-Connecta Double Cab – Car Review

  1. Hi Steve,

    We recently bought a Navara NP300 n-connecta to use as a family workhorse. I’ve owned pickups for both work and pleasure for 30 years so have some experience of them and did not buy blindly. However in comparison with some of my previous pickup trucks I have found the Navara lacking in many areas and have been very dissapointed with certain design aspects.

    I have not seen these mentioned in reviews (including yours). I have created a blog simply to record the high and lows of ownership (as a family workhorse rather than a working truck) to hopefully give potential purchasers a broader range of opinions on them. I’m assuming that the reason my family has picked up on these faults is that we actually live with the truck and use it day in day out. Not sure how long you or other car reviewers get to spend actually using the vehicles you test? Maybe we are being a little picky on certain things but then we are comparing this new truck with our last truck that we’d had for 10 years and had been a perfect family vehicle over 280K largely fault free miles.

    I’d be extremely grateful if you could spend 10 mins looking at my ‘Lows’ page on my blog (the things I’m not happy with) and confirming if you suffered any of those issues during your test? it may be that some issues are specific to our vehicle, difficult to know without testing a few I guess.

    Your thoughts would be very much appreciated.

    Ian

    1. Wow, that’s quite a list! You are vastly more experienced than me when it comes to actually using a pick-up truck so I have no doubt that the problems you highlight are genuine.

      Can’t say I noticed any problems with torque though, or the gearbox itself for that matter. I thought it changed gear quite well.

      Yes, the tailgate is quite heavy and I take your point about not being able to fold it down completely.

      I did have occasion to climb inside the load-bay – because one of the side windows on the hard-top was jammed shut (or rather, the lock had jammed) and I found it very uncomfortable on the knees. I didn’t realise that softer materials were available for load-beds. It makes sense though – especially if it stops things from sliding around.

      The suspension I never had a problem with but then again I didn’t have the opportunity to load up the vehicle so will take your observations as correct.

      I did quite a bit of driving at night but didn’t notice a problem withe the dipped lights. They were more than good enough for me.

      The cabin heating was slow but I’ve found that on the other pick-ups I’ve driven – the Mitsy L200 and the Isuzu D-Max. Can’t say I noticed a big difference with the Nissan.

      Thinking about it now, the sidesteps are a bit of a pain. I never encountered the clearance problem but, once again, I haven’t used it in “anger” like you will have done. I did keep scraping the backs of my legs on the step and they were a little shallow, meaning you had to tip-toe onto them when getting out. I would probably remove them too.

      The Auto headlights – yes, I agree; they were a little hit and miss.

      Phone integration – I suffered for a few years with a Windows Phone because, like you say, it works very well, is logically laid out and works with other tech – however, I had to give up with it because of lack of 3rd party support and the inability to interface with a lot of the cars I drive. You may have to bite the bullet and go for the expensive iPhone, especially as Microsoft have now completely dropped the ball and stopped all development.

      Chrome trim? I take your point but it was never an issue for me. It does look a little old-fashioned though, I suppose.

      Thanks for your comments Ian, it highlights the point that people who actually use a “working” vehicle, like a pick-up, are much better placed to give an opinion on its usefullness and it’s helpful that you’ve taken the time to share – here and on your own blog – your own findings.

      Regards,

      Steve

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for the very comprehensive reply. 🙂

    I am hoping the sluggishness at low revs is just down to a very tight new engine (our truck only had 1700 miles on it when we bought it as an ex-demo). Maybe the truck you tested had higher mileage and had loosened up? In my experience diesels can often take as much as 30K miles before they fully loosen up and give best performance and economy.

    My last pickup, the B2500, had a very slick, short shifting gearbox that was very car like and had very well spaced gearing. I did 280K miles in that truck and kept it far longer than any other vehicle simply because it was such a brilliant vehicle. I guess this is one of those things were you go from a vehicle with a really nice gearbox, engine etc and you notice the shortcomings of the new vehicle more than if you’d not experienced better? Another example would be the lack of outside temp gauge on the NP300, I know it is trivial and hardly a major thing but I really miss it after having one on my last vehicle.

    Yes, there are some excellent load bed linings that can be fitted to the NP300 (or any truck for that matter). The bed rug is awesome albeit expensive at £400. It looks and feels like shag pile carpet, is really comfortable to kneel on, is much safer for dogs as they can grip the floor without sliding about and it is actually made of plastic so can be hosed off. It replaces the plastic liner and covers the floor and sides of the bed and the tailgate. You can also get carpet mats that sit over the plastic load liner floor which is what we’ll probably do, they are not as tough as the bed rug but for use in a family workhorse they are fine and ideal if you have a hard top fitted. They do at least reduce the shopping from sliding about so much.

    I think our headlight problem may actually be poor QA/QC. I’ve since discovered a few other owners with the same problem, it is apparently poor setup of the headlight units at the factory. I have been told they need to be manually adjusted using a screwdriver to bring them back to correct settings. I will give this a try in the next few days (when it warms up and stops raining 😉

    Yes, the problem we found in researching the NP300 was that the bulk of the reviews were from car magazines where it was clear that the testers did not really use pickup trucks as daily drivers over long periods of time. Many of their observatiosn were more car related than related to true heavy duty work use, off road use or even use as a family workhorse. I test drove the vehicle at a dealer but as you know, they tend to be very short test drives and in our case was in a major town at peak time which meant I barely got out of 1st gear! We live in a very rural location and most of our annual mileage is on rural backroads or long motorway trips down to my head office. We actually do very little urban or city driving so the test drive was largely useless. It is why I spent hours reading every road test I could find. It is also why it is frustrating to find those reviews don’t really cover the sort of use we put the vehicles too (either work or family). There seemed to be a lack of reviews by actual owners. When we are spending tens of thousands of pounds (The NP300 is a £40K vehicle) we need to be pretty confident we are getting as thorough , honest and varied opinion as possible to avoid a costly mistake. I joined a forum for Navara owners but the moderators deleted my post that pointed out the faults I found and made it clear that they didn’t want to hear negative feedback. (Possibly sponsored by Nissan). This explains why I struggled to find any negatives when researching the vehicle before purchase and hence why we bought it.

    Overall the NP300 is not a bad vehicle at all but for us as a family I think (after owning it) that we would have been better to buy the base model Toyota Hi-Lux double cab and tweak it to our needs. There are just too many things that we need to spend thousands on to correct on the NP300 before it will meet our needs.

    Regards,

    Ian

    PS. Goto an iPhone? Nah, never 🙂 I’ll hold out with my current windows phone for another year and hope the MS come to their senses and release the surface phone! If not than I’ll have to go android as I won’t touch apple products, grossly overpriced for what you get. I’m not one to pay a premium for a badge, I don’t mind paying a premium price for a premium product but an iphone is not a premium product.

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