In the market for a lifestyle SUV or double cab? Here is one great option…

WHAT IS IT?

Late 2021 saw a facelifted Nissan Navara launched locally – an absolute cracker! It's also now made locally, which is a great show of confidence in the South African economy. The PRO-2X/PRO-4X are the top-of-the-range spec levels, in 4x2/4x4, respectively.

WHY THIS?

The Navara has a lot going for it, not least its striking looks and the backing of a well-loved brand in South Africa. It's a solid alternative to the Big Two: the Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger, especially for the lifestyle buyer.

OUTSIDE

I'd say that the new Navara is the most handsome bakkie on the market, with close to the presence of the Ford Ranger Raptor for a lot less money. My test model came in battleship grey, which is fitting for a car that feels the size of HMS Dreadnought, and it looked very striking on the road. The Navara was recently updated, and while the changes weren't extensive, what changes have been made have had a major impact. It is now very Yankee, with a heavy nose, a slightly protruding grille and flared LED foglight housings. The headlights are striking, with four square LEDs framed by LED running lights. There's also a built-in lip to the tailgate that looks like a little spoiler, and the PRO-2X has black accents and rims (which seem to be all the rage) and boldly contrasting decals.

An aesthetic weakness, though, has to be the wheels: even at 17-inch, with 255R65 tyres, they look too small for the oversized wheel arches, and the tyres are also too narrow. The upside is that the tyres will be relatively inexpensive to replace (although I'd venture that wheels and tyres will be the first thing new owners will change!).

INSIDE

The facelift extends to the interior of the Navara, where an 8-inch touchscreen audio system is the most obvious addition, and it has all connectivity and sat-nav.

Safety has been taken very seriously with the new Navara, which features Nissan Intelligent Mobility (NIM). This suite of safety systems goes far beyond seat belts and airbags, with technology that automatically activates the brakes if there's an imminent collision, monitors driver fatigue and has lane monitoring.

Overall, the cabin is spacious and well laid out, covered in high-quality materials and contains every feature you can reasonably expect in a car of this sort. Job well done, Nissan.

THE DRIVE

Two versions of a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine are used in the Navara range, and the PRO-2X gets the high-power version that produces 140kW and 450Nm. Coupled with the 7-speed automatic transmission, it provides more than enough power and torque for smooth sailing, and while fuel consumption is claimed to be 7.6L/100km, I'd say that 9.5L/100km is more realistic.

Suspension is a big deal with bakkies, and the Navara has one of the better-sorted setups thanks to the new dual-rate 5-link coil suspension in the rear. It is comfortable and keeps the car planted on the gravel and tar, although it does feel better on the road with a reasonable load. Speaking of which, the Navara has a load capacity of 1,086kg. A great feature for a vehicle of this size is the Intelligent All Round View Monitor, a camera system that gives you a bird's eye view of the vehicle when manoeuvring in tight spaces.

FINAL WORD

If you want a bakkie that will stand out on the road, here's the one to go for. It has no real weaknesses and is also perfect for buyers who want something that isn't a Ranger or a Hilux but offers everything they do.

GO GET IT

Prices for the Navara double-cab (there are also single-cab models) start at R479,500, while the PRO-2X is R699,000. The 4x4 version is an extra R50,000. All Navara models are sold with a 6-year/90,000km service plan with 15,000km service intervals. A 6-year/150,000km warranty is also provided, which is excellent compared to competitors.

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