Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The Navara’s maximum muscle comes in early on the highest-powered diesel engine we’ve tried, and it pulls hard from a little over 1000rpm in all of its six gears. Performance is perfectly adequate, but the Bi-Turbo Ford Ranger feels stronger, while any version of the V6-powered Volkswagen Amarok is faster still.
Both rivals are also more refined than the rough-and-ready Navara. Although it’ll pull strongly from low down, you’ll feel plenty of vibrations through your seat and steering wheel as the engine slogs below 1500rpm, and it always sounds coarse, even at a cruise. Tyre roar isn’t too bad for a pick-up, but wind noise is particularly noticeable.
The Navara’s manual gearbox has a notchy, mechanical feel to it that you’ll either love or hate. The Ford Ranger’s feels a little more car-like, but the gear lever has an even longer throw than the Navara’s. As for the automatic, it can’t match the Amarok’s eight-speed unit for smoothness.
With its suspension set-up that’s designed to cope with heavy loads and arduous off-road driving, the Navara isn’t fun to drive hard around corners. It has a more advanced rear suspension design than the majority of pick-ups, but even then it leans over markedly in bends, and pitches under braking, while its steering is heavy and slow. There’s no doubt the Ford Ranger feels more agile and leans less in bends.
Unfortunately, while you’d hope the Navara’s coil-sprung rear suspension would help comfort, you’ll still feel plenty of shakes and shimmies through the base of your seat. This is especially true at lower speeds when dealing with potholes and pimples. Things do improve at speed, but the Volkswagen Amarok is a far comfier place to be.
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