Tuesday 17 January 2017

How new Navara pick-up and Qashqai play crossover game

First Drive: Nissan Navara

Published 23/09/2015 | 02:30

Double cross-over: Nissan Navara
Double cross-over: Nissan Navara
Nissan Navara
Nissan Navara interior

We know them as Crossovers because they traverse so many motoring genres. But the Qashqais and Jukes of this world have spread their influence further afield, it seems. To the land of the pick-up truck.

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Nissan's new Navara pick-up, unveiled officially at the Ploughing yesterday but previewed on Monday by Motors, takes many a cue from the mainstream crossovers in its stable.

By the same token, we are told, the Navara's engineering transfers in varying measures to the crossovers in the Nissan stable too. So it's a double-crossover, if you like.

The evidence was before our eyes, at our fingertips and under our bottoms at Castle Durrow as we surveyed the new pick-up. The Navara gets here for 2016 and will cost from around the €31,950 mark - much the same as its main rival, the Toyota Hilux.

The big changes are in looks, inside (where you'll see the influence of the Qashqai and Juke) and at the back where the five-link suspension should (I haven't driven it yet) make an enormous difference over the old leaf-spring.

The cargo area is bigger (they have a clever little step at the rear and a smart sliding tray to help ease loads forwards or backwards), the cabin is much the same size and the 2.3-litre diesel engine has been improved with low-end pulling power greatly improved. Emissions are now 167g/km for the 2WD KingCab and 169g/km for the 4WD manual. Lower fuel consumption is reckoned to be worth €1,500 over three years. There is a 7spd auto as well as 6spd manual.

The Navara has been a big seller (albeit in a smaller market) and they expect 20pc segment share next year.

Interesting to hear Jamie MacClean, Nissan Europe's manager of truck product planning, say they had blown hot and cold on LCVs over the years but now realise they need them and would struggle without them.

Asked about reports of the previous Navara's unreliability, he pointed to a new five-year bumper- to-bumper warranty. That should help reassure private and fleet buyers. The former will use the pick-up for work during the week and as a family vehicle at the weekends - hence the emphasis on a 'car-like' cabin and, I hope, on-road driving.

For fleet buyers it is all about the bottom line: payload, towing ability etc. For them in particular there is a new entry LE grade (still has Hill Start, Bluetooth, cruise control, seven airbags and electric windows). As well as the Double Cab we saw, there will be a King Cab.

And then we heard more of the Qashqai and Xtrail links. The seats for example were, like them, developed in conjunction with NASA and are designed to give equal pressure across your body.

Rear seats in double cabs can be rigid and upright; they have increased the angle from 18-degrees to 23. And there is dual zone climate control, 7ins sat nav (has an interface that has yet to come on cars) and so on.

You mightn't think it, but people apparently love to accessorise their pickups with the average spend being around €1,000. There are 125 different bits and pieces to pick from.

Then to the real workhorse end of the business; there is a minimum one tonne payload - up to 1.2t - and a 3.5tonne towing capacity

There are 2WD and 4WD versions and the existing frame has been strengthened.

And finally, for getting through the water, wading depth has gone from 450mm to 600mm. Now that's a different sort of cross-over altogether.

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