pick-ups are the real
deal. Big, bold and
brash they may be, but
the revised models are
bear fair comparison to
NISSAN FIELDS A WIDE RANGE OF MODELS with four-wheel drive: everything from the new X-Trail a well respected compact SUV to the spacious V6-engined Murano 4x4 on-roader (with some off-road capabilities), to the mid-sized five/ seven seat Pathfinder 4x4s and the huge, tough, heavyweight Patrol off-roader.
In addition, Nissan also has its best-selling Navara pick-up range that currently accounts for around 12,000 registrations annually. Launched in 2005, the Navara range has gradually overhauled the top-selling Mitsubishi pick-up ranges in the UK, and by the end of this year the Nissan models are expected to be the top selling vehicles in this sector despite the drop in overall UK sales of car-derived pick-ups (as they are known). According to official industry figures, the market is down by 28 per cent year-to-date.
Due to the company car tax savings over a conventional 4x4 or SUV, business drivers found these vehicles a useful way of paying less per-sonal company car tax. The Chancellor quickly made that loophole a little smaller, but there are still savings to be made in this area. Being
a commercial vehicle, if they are bought and run by a business they are also exempt from VAT.
But not only business users buy these vehicles. The growing demand and interest in recreational pursuits made double-cabs, in particular, popular vehicles. Where the Navara range scores is the size of the load area, both in King Cab with its one-and-a-half passenger doors each side or the full five-seater Double Cab models with four full-sized doors. Unfortunately, Mitsubishi increased the passenger space but reduced the load area size for the L200 models and that, plus the weird styling, turned many commercial and business users away from the product Nissan have only been too pleased to step in and take their customers.
The just-launched 2008 model year Navara models are bigger, bolder and you could say more brash than the models they replace. Additional revisions include even more interior space and the all important load areas are now bigger than most. The levels of cab refinement and specification are also improved, and they can now be fairly compared to a well-appointed traditional SUV. There are new Trek, Sport, Outlaw and Die Hard grades, plus a luxury top-of-the-range Aventura model unique to the Navara Double Cab line-up.
Prices (including VAT) range from £17,615 to £20,787.50 for Navara King Cab models; and from £18,790 to £26,545 for Double Cab versions.
All models are powered by 2.5-litre dCi, four-cylinder turbodiesel (with intercooler) engines which have 169bhp of power and a massive 297lb ft of torque at just 2,000rpm. The six-speed manual transmission or five-speed automatic option for Outlaw, Die Hard and Aventura is coupled with an easy-to-select two- or four-wheel drive system, with high and low ratio. A limited slip differential is also fitted.
My test Navara was the Aventura 2.5 dCi Double Cab with automatic transmission a popular combination in this sector. The list price is £22,625 including VAT, but the vehicle had several extras so the final price worked out to £23,817.
True to its SUV status, this model comes with DVD satellite navigation, up-market audio/CD system, hands-free 'phone operation, leather upholstery, heated and power adjusted front seats, electric sunroof, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control, fog lights, 17-inch alloy wheels and anti-lock braking. Business owners will in the main buy this model as it combines big and bold looks with a very high level of comfort equipment.
But it is no 'softy' load lugging, towing or working off-road, this Navara is the real deal. Top speed is 105mph, 0-62mph takes 11.8 seconds and average fuel economy is 27.7mpg. Not so good are the CO2 emissions high at 276g/km, and which incurs it a £400 annual road tax bill. All Navara models have a 2,600kg maximum braked limit
for towing, and their insurance rating is 11E.
While the Navara Double Cab is not as good as a conventional SUV
on-road for driveability and pricey with all the options it still holds a good hand of cards: there's the practical load area size and design, excellent interior space for five, high levels of equipment, excellent performance off-road and a big, bold, brash image. If that does it for you, then you and your Navara will be very happy together. David Miles
Nissan Navara Aventura 2.5 dCi Double Cab | £22,540
Maximum speed: 105mph | 0-62mph: 11.8 seconds
Overall test MPG: 27.7mpg | Power: 169bhp | Torque: 297lb ft
CO2 276g/km | VED Band G £400 | Insurance group 11E
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