Weekender comfort with the Navara

By THOMAS HUONG | 8 June 2016

Nissan NP300 Navara (double-cab V grade)
Engine: 2,488cc in-line 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve, VGS Turbo Intercooler
Maximum power: 163ps at 3,600rpm
Maximum torque: 403Nm at 2,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, manual mode
Features: Dual front airbags, child seat retainer (ISOFIX with tether), rear view camera, i-key and push-start ignition, ABS (anti-lock braking system), EBD (electronic brake force distribution), brake assist, VDC (vehicle dynamic control), traction control, ABLS (active brake limited slip), HDC (hill descent control), HSA (hill start assist)
Price: RM109,800 without insurance; three-year or 100,000km warranty - whichever comes first.

The Nissan NP300 Navara is another pick-up truck with passenger car-like comforts and at the same time, the robustness and brute power of a workhorse.

To recap, Nissan had designed the NP300 Navara to give the cabin refinement and premium features of a mid-sized Japanese sedan, in order cater to a growing pick-up truck buying segment who want passenger car-like comforts.

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This included the NP300 Navara having a coil sprung multi-link rear for more comfort, instead of the traditional rear leaf springs on pick-ups.

This V grade edition is the second-most-expensive Nissan NP300 Navara pick-up.

It is the most highly equipped of the four NP300 Navara double-cab variants with the 163ps and 403Nm engines, tuned for better fuel economy.

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While the top-of-the-line VL grade has the same engine, it is tuned with 190ps and 450Nm which wins it the crown of the most powerful 2.5-litre pick-up.

On this V grade edition, cabin kit and comforts include first-in-class rear air-conditioning vents, intelligent key with push-start ignition, and a five-inch touchscreen with radio, Bluetooth, USB connectivity, GPS navigation, rear view camera and six speakers.

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There are also first-in-class Zero Gravity Inspired front seats that provide spinal support, and rear seats with improved seatback angle.

Nissan's Zero Gravity Inspired car seats are touted as reducing fatigue and providing the ideal posture to make long drives more pleasant.

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This “fatigue-free” seat technology was jointly developed with Yamazaki Laboratory at Keio University, Tokyo.

We spent a few days in the urban suburbs of Klang and Petaling Jaya with the NP300 Navara, which we had checked out previously on a brief off-road drive in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

This time, as we did not go off-road, we did not have occasion to use the NP300 Navara's shift-on-the-fly 4WD system which allows switching between 2WD and 4WD via a dial, at speeds of up to 100kph.

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The pick-up's black-themed interior has a nice executive car-like ambience, and numerous storage spaces for items like cameras and water bottles.

Parking a huge and long pick-up in tight spots is always a struggle, which is why the rear view camera here is a welcomed blessing.

With regards to the driving, the 7-speed automatic gearbox is a smooth and responsive shifter.

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Running on Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 tyres sized 255/70 R16, and thanks to the multi-link rear, the NP300 Navara handles well enough for a pick-up and can take road curves with more aplomb than one might expect for a long-ish 1.8-tonne vehicle with an empty rear deck.

The rack and pinion steering is well-weighted, and we found good road feedback.

You know you are still driving a workhorse, albeit one with a very comfortable cabin, but at the same time, there is a somewhat sport utility vehicle (SUV)-like quality to the drive.

Of course, this is in the context of a ladder frame pick-up truck engineered to withstand the rigours of a work site, as opposed to a monocoque chassis SUV meant for family comfort and good city road handling.

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Our test drive unit also came with the Pro-Form Sportlid and Sportbar for Tango optional accessories (RM7,950 package price).

While the accessories can be bought as single items, the package deal offers better value for money.

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The covered rear deck, thanks to the Pro-Form optional accessories, really came in handy when shopping at a hypermarket on a rainy day.

We could load lots of groceries into the rear deck, without having to worry about the items getting soaked.

In conclusion, the NP300 Navara double-cab V grade ticks all the boxes with regards to passenger car-like refinement, and still offers a nice combination of power, toughness and fuel economy for business operators.

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CarSifu's Rating: 7.2