Are you even a real South African if the words “Nissan”, “Double Cab” and “Bakkie” don’t make you feel at home? This is the question I ask myself as I make my way to BB Hatfield Nissan, a Dealership in Pretoria to learn more about the new Nissan Navara 4×2.
Welcomed at BB Hatfield Nissan, a Dealership promoting both the Datsun and Nissan brands, I am eager to get up to speed with the popular new Bakkie. Dealer Principal Marcel Moolman is a man on a mission, running the dealership with humility and passion that is evident in the quality of service his team provides. With an impressive track record and a client-based philosophy, Marcel believes that selling cars is not about how well you know the car, but rather, how well you know people. Exuding confidence and genuine care for the contentment of his clients, Marcel has infused his team with the same values that he seeks to uphold.
Sales Representative Jacques Steyn impressed me right off the bat with his knowledge of Navara history. Noting that the Navara stems from an 80-year heritage, the Nissan brand is well known for their bakkies and the launch of a 4×2 double cabs in the early 90’s. Jacques tells me that in the 2000’s, the Nissan Navara was often considered as a market leader due to it’s ground-breaking suspension and brilliant fuel consumption, and as such, the 4×4 models were growing in popularity. More recently, a 4×2 model has been designed to meet the needs for the modern family: day-to-day use for the whole family to school and work, and weekend use for camping, fishing or other leisure activities. This is what Jacques believes makes up for the success of the 4×2 Navara variant.
A driven and very empathic Sales Executive, Chris Fourie, meets with me to talk about the Nissan Navara. 17 years of experience in the motoring industry (9 of which have been dedicated to Nissan) has developed a sense of understanding and love for clients which Chris believes is what makes his work so successful. By putting customer service first (having learned this in the Finance industry), Chris’ philosophy is responsible for bringing back many repeat buyers and their referrals too. Chris is very open about the integrity of the Nissan brand, and although his loyalty lies with this Dealership, feels the brand itself is such a remarkable brand that every client can also rest assured that any Nissan dealer in the country will be there to serve them, should they need it.
Looking at the new Navara, I note a sexy new design, a new chassis and build style and an all-new interior. As Jacques mentioned to me earlier, the Navara is currently the only bakkie featuring LED headlights, and I feel compelled to add that I love the striking, athletic look of the 2.3 litre LE 4×2 Automatic variant I am driving. 18-inch alloy wheels completes the “rugged” look perfectly. The new shape is fresh, modern and unique, and gives the vehicle a sense of massive size whilst still appearing elegant, and I am sure this will appeal to a broad audience.
The interior is smart and classy, with the optional leather-interior pack added; the cloth upholstery is however really stylish and well put together. This variant also has the luxury of heated seats that adjust automatically in 8-directions. With high quality finishes in the cabin, and a well-designed dashboard that is not overloaded with knobs and dials, the Navara hosts sufficient features on board to keep me happy. The steering wheel has user-friendly audio controls (and also adjusts for height and reach) and all the audio needs of this musically-inclined journalist are taken into consideration through Bluetooth connectivity, as well as aux and USB ports. The Navara also comes standard including SAT NAV with 3D mapping and integrated colour display with a touchscreen to make your journey’s hassle free. A DVD player can even be plugged into the fully integrated infotainment system. The Navara, I am told, is also currently the only bakkie on the market that features aircon at the back and hosts a charging port in the load bin (ideal for a fridge or lighting should you want to go camping or fishing). It is little touches like these that show the manufacturer has been thinking about the client, and I am suitably impressed.
With remote keyless entry and push-button start, the Navara sits comfortably and feels quite spacious in the front. Although I suspect the rear seats would be tight for three adults across, my 9 and 11 year old children were comfortable and had ample head and leg room in the back. As a family we loved the numerous cup-holders and storage areas available, with the two front cupholders located beneath the airconditioned air vents to keep your refreshments cool (my personal favourite touch).
At take-off, I find the Navara a little sluggish, but with the powerful 2.3 litre diesel engine kicking out 140 Kw of power and 450 Nm of torque, once the vehicle reaches cruising speed, the drive is unbelievably smooth and effortless (in fact, I found myself driving at faster-than-normal speeds without realising it). Cruise control, power-steering and a host of electronic stability features make the Navara a pleasure to drive, and the 5-link coil suspension kept bumps and jostles to a minimum. Furthermore, with driver and passenger front- and side-airbags, driver’s knee airbags and all-round curtain airbags (as well as a uniquely designed body) left me feeling safe and secure.
Hill Start Assist and Hill Decent Control, reverse camera on the rear-view mirror, ABS and EBD are but a few of the features this vehicle boasts. Having taken the new Navara on a game drive to test its capabilities, I was pleased with the handling and stability of the vehicle on both rough and urban terrain – Traction Control systems kept the tyres firmly grounded. The 7-speed automatic gearbox is silky smooth in its transitions and truthfully made me feel quite confident in its capabilities. Tipped at averaging around 7 litres per 100 kilometres fuel consumption on the manual variant, the Navara is generous on the mileage it can do before needing to refuel, for such a big vehicle.
This vehicle needs to be experienced personally to get a true picture of it’s worth: the popularity of the previous 4×4 model was testimony to the great contribution Nissan has for this segment. Having now upped their game by redesigning and improving their offering, the 4×2 Navara is also better priced than most of the other vehicles in this segment, and better equipped than ever before. Also able to carry in excess of 1000 kilograms in the load bin (a big improvement from it’s predecessor), and tow around 3.5 tons, it would seem there is not much this vehicle cannot handle.
Parking the Navara back at the Dealership (which I must add was easy despite it’s bulk), I conclude that the new Navara – with its confidence, superb ability and great new design – will definitely fill the very specific niche it was created to. This is affirmed by both Chris and Jacques who note that in the month of the new Navara launch, record numbers of the vehicle were sold. Supported by Nissan Roadside Assistance and an (up to) R60 000 trade-in assistance/cash back option, there seems to be no reason why we can’t all have a new Navara.
Journalist: Desh Bechan
Reporter: Inge Stols
Editor: Belinda Anderson