With sharp new styling and a much-improved interior, Nissan is looking to not only beat the pickup competition but steal sales from SUVs too.
While it can still tow 3.5 tonnes or carry more than a tonne in its load bay, a new rear suspension setup on the Double Cab model aims to improve ride comfort and handling. King Cab variants retain the older style leaf spring suspension that’s common with pickups.
This new Navara has a smaller engine that has the same level of power as the outgoing model but with lower running costs.
What’s the 2016 Nissan NP300 Navara Double Cab like to drive?
Thanks to that more sophisticated rear suspension system, the Navara rides and handles much better than rivals. Where a traditional pickup bounces over bumps and feels unsettled without a load in the back, the Nissan is much more comfortable. It really is a big improvement when compared with rivals such as the Mitsubishi L200.
It also helps the Navara feel stable and predictable through corners. The steering may be slow and you’re always aware of the sheer size and weight of the truck yet it can corner much more enthusiastically than you’d think. Still, it's no surprise to find out it weighs very nearly two tonnes.
With all that mass, it’s good to know that Double Cab models get autonomous emergency braking as standard, which lowers the insurance group too. Safety kit includes seven airbags, and there are also Isofix points for child seats in the rear.
The new 2.3 litre diesel engine pulls well enough, especially if you opt for the higher-powered 187bhp twin-turbocharged version that is standard on the top three trim levels. Both this and the 158bhp unit get noisy above 3000rpm with a diesel rattle at lower engine speeds too. It's better to keep the revs lower and use the torque.
There are two gearbox options with the 187bhp diesel; a six-speed manual or a seven-speed auto. The manual has a long throw and can be vague but does offer the best official claimed fuel economy of 44.1 mpg. CO2 emissions are 169g/km. The auto is largely smooth but can officially manage only 40.3mpg and 183g/km CO2 emissions.
What’s the Nissan NP300 Navara Double Cab like inside?
At first glance, all seems good on the top-spec Tekna model we tried. There’s attractive piano black trim, metal effect detailing plus a touchscreen infotainment system with sat-nav and all-round view monitor – useful on something this big.
The infotainment system will be familiar to anyone that’s driven a Nissan car or crossover recently. Navigation is clear while the menus are simple enough to use; Bluetooth pairing easy. Image quality on the viewing monitor could be better though.
Further inspection reveals that although the Navara's cabin looks crossover-like in quality, it’s still a commercial vehicle underneath. The leather steering wheel and gear lever feel good but those expecting soft-touch plastics on the dashboard will be disappointed. Everything is solid and will no doubt be tough as old boots, but the plastics are all hard to the touch.
Even so, it’s a pleasant environment that proves comfortable even after a couple of hours behind the wheel. Rear passenger space isn’t quite as good; the seats themselves are fine but the floor is high meaning you can never fully get comfortable.
As for the ‘boot’, there’s the one-tonne capacity we mentioned previously with a bed length of 1578mm, a little longer than the model it replaces. All but the entry-level trims also get handy tiedown hooks that can be moved front to back within the bed. Like most 4x4 pickups, shorter individuals may struggle to reach items pushed up against the cab.
Should I buy one?
If you’re in the market for a pickup truck, then the answer has to be yes. The new rear suspension on the Double Cab eliminates the bouncing sensation you get with the majority of pickup trucks while fuel economy and C02 emissions are improved over the old model.
The trouble is, an SUV like the BMW X3 or SUV such as the Nissan X-Trail offer cheaper running costs, are better to drive and take up much less space on the road. You’ll also find they’re more comfortable for rear seat passengers too.
We’d recommend weighing up your priorities. If you need the offroad ability and carrying capacity, then the NP300 Navara is a great choice; it really does narrow the gap between rough and ready pickups and road biased SUVs. If however, you just want to sit high but want to avoid hefty fuel bills, then a crossover makes a lot more sense.
What Car? says...
Nissan Navara NP300 Double Cab