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Tow Test: Nissan Navara 2.3D LE 2WD AT

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VIEWS

When Nissan launched the Navara about a decade ago, we liked it so much that we voted it as our Bakkie of the Year. It had style, was well put together and a pleasure to drive. This new model is interesting, too.

Double cab bakkies have become bigger and bigger, and perhaps more truck-like and sophisticated than ever before. While they remain a combination of boyish, easy on the eye styling with good levels of interior comfort, they remain largely capable of taking an additional half-ton load in the shortened load bay. As a result, the suspensions tend to be firm.

The Navara, on the other hand, struck me as being a “lady’s” double cab… but, before anyone falls off their chair, let me explain: It rides like a car, is smooth and light, and the automatic is just so car-like and easy to drive.

Add the towball weight of a caravan, and the ride firms up: ready for the dual purpose of carrying a load and four people.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: 2.3D SE 2WD AT

Engine: 2 298 C3

Gearbox: 7-speed auto

Tare: 1 845 kg

GVM: 2 910 kg

GCM: 5 910 kg

Max towing (unbraked): 750 kg

Max towing (braked): 3 500 kg

Power: 140 kW @ 3 750 rpm

Torque: 450 Nm @ 1 500 – 2 500 rpm

Ground clearance: 229 mm

Towball height: 480 mm

PRICE

2.3D SE 4×2 MT DC: R461 900

2.3D LE 4×2 MT DC: R529 500

2.3D LE 4×2 AT DC: R547 900

2.3D SE 4×4 MT DC: R540 700

2.3D LE 4×4 MT DC: R583 500

2.3D LE 4×4 AT DC: R604 900

Towing capacity

Nissan are so confident of the strength of the new Navara that they have given it a 3.5 ton braked towing capacity. Bakkies and double cabs attract the GCM rule rather the GVM as in the case of sedan vehicles, since bakkies and double cabs have the additional load-carrying capacity of the load bay.

So, you need to remember that anything non-standard and ex-factory that you add (such as a canopy or roof rack) is extra weight, and must be added to that which you are towing. All in all, this may not exceed 5 910 kg, unless you equip the trailer with additional vacuum-operated brakes.

For this Navara which has a Tare of 1 845 kg, that means you have 4 037 kg left before you hit the GCM.

With a GVM of 2 910 kg, you can load a ton in your Navara (remember, this will include passengers and any add-ons), and still tow a caravan of about 3 000 kg.

Engine and transmission

The 4-cylinder diesel engine has a capacity of 2.3-litres (2 298 cm³ to be exact), but it is fitted with twin turbos that help this relatively-small engine to produce 140 kW at 3 750 rpm and 450 Nm from between 1500 to 2500 rpm.

This power goes to the rear wheels only, via a 7-speed automatic – and the performance is impressive, particularly when accelerating from 40 to 70 km/h. Whether you are towing or not, it makes no difference: it gets up and goes!

And, when you are towing a 1 000 kg trailer, it will do 150km/h, which proves that it has the capability of towing much heavier weights.

Fuel consumption

When driving in traffic and around town, the onboard computer will indicate an average of 9 litres per 100 km. Hitch the caravan onto the back, and this increases to 11.3 L/100km at a steady 100km/h, and 12.5 L at 120 km/h.

As for the automatic transmission, I don’t know why anyone would even consider a manual gearbox when this engine and auto-box work so well together, and take all the hassle out of bumper-to-bumper traffic driving.

When towing, it accelerates from 0 to 60 km/h in 6.36 seconds, and to 100 in 13.85 seconds.

It will have an overtaking acceleration of 80 to 100 km/h in 5.54 seconds – all by simply putting pressure on the accelerator and not having to worry about changing gears manually.

Drop on the towball

As a double cab, the Navara stands reasonably tall with a ground clearance of 229 mm. This is good for an off-road trailer such as the Invader Duo we towed, which stands on equally-high off-road tyres. You may still opt to use the lower bolt holes on the towbracket, to keep the trailer level.

Towball height is 480 mm with the Invader attached, as the rear coil springs of the vehicle will have dropped some 25 mm under this load.

Equipment

Once inside the Navara, you’ll find it lacks nothing in terms of driver comfort, instrumentation and navigation. It simply has it all – and it looks good, too. And it has all the driver information controls on the steering wheel.

Perhaps one unusual feature is the power-supply socket in the top centre of the dashboard. I have not seen one placed there before; and as there are times when you just don’t have enough power sockets in today’s electronic world, it is extra useful.

I found the bonnet styling a novelty, in that it is flat in the centre and lifts upwards over the wheel arches. I thought this might be clever, in that it makes one aware of the width of the vehicle, but short ladies have told me that they battle to see low cars next to them as the raised outer edges of the wheel arches obscure their vision.

Summary

It’s still a handsome double-cab, with its flared tailgate lip and stylish V-shaped bonnet… which you may, or may not, like.

The new Navara is easy on the eye, and is even more pleasing inside; and as a tow car, the fact that is has all that power coupled to a seven-speed automatic transmission makes it a towing package that is, again, pleasing. If you are in the market, choosing a double cab just got more difficult, because this is a vehicle well worth trying out. It’s built tough, has a factory-approved high-towing capacity, and those twin turbos pump out the Newton metres!

WHAT WE TOWED

Tare: 860 kg

GVM: 1 500 kg

Payload: 640 kg

Length: 4 150 mm

Height closed: 1 800 mm

Height open: 2 850 mm

Width: 1 850 kg

A special thanks to Invader Cape Town for supplying us with this superb off-road trailer for our tow test.

Invader Cape Town is located in Isotope Street, Triangle Farm, Bellville, Cape Town.

For enquiries, please fill out the form below.

* For a full review of the Invader Duo, check upcoming editions of Caravan & Outdoor Life.

By Godfrey Castle

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