ON THE ROAD: NISSAN NAVARA STEALTH

STORY AND PICS BY TUMELO MAKETEKETE

Introduction

We are an outdoor and lifestyle company and recently a client approached us and wanted us to put together a “boys camping package”. The husband was turning 40 and she wanted to celebrate this milestone with an outdoor weekend. The weekend included fishing, 4×4, paintball and hiking. Nissan South Africa came to the party and offered the latest Navara Stealth to assist in the celebration. Hobby Park, based along Robert Broom Drive in Roodepoort was the preferred playground as these activities are in-house.

The Nissan brand has been with us for as long as I can remember, in fact it has a 50-year heritage, and the people who are inclined to partake in such outdoor activities, are most likely going to consider this bakkie/ pick-up. Do we even still call them bakkies, as these are becoming more car-like by the day? 

Exterior and styling

There is no doubt in my mind that bakkies have a macho thing about them, besides the fact that in my view every household needs one. They are the most practical thing since sliced bread and pop-up tents.  From the front the look is butch, modern and somewhat intimidating. The headlights emit a crisp white light at night and in-line with them, on the bonnet, muscular protrusions flank either side, as if a bodybuilder is showing off his muscles. LED daytime running lights come standard as expected. I must applaud the designers for not opting for a chrome grille as this is often cheesy. A front facing camera is in the centre of the front, with two below each mirror. The fourth eye is located above the tailgate handle and completes the 360-degree view.  The model I sampled came in black with highlights of orange on the mirrors, which can fold inwards if one is exploring a tight track, and side steps. Black 18-inch alloy wheels add to a welcomed blend of colours. Towards the rear end, on the sides and above the tail lights “Stealth” decals set it apart from the normal Navara. But, all in all the design is appealing, crispy fresh and easy on the eye.

The interior is nothing like a bakkie that most of us grew up knowing. The materials used are premium and easily accessible, over and above that they are easy to use. Black heated seats with orange stitching make it stand out. The driver seat can be adjusted electrically. The rear camera has moved from the infotainment screen and placed to the left of the rear-view mirror. I welcome this new move as it keeps the driver’s eyes fixed on one location when manoeuvring.

Another pleasant addition is the placement of a power point above the dash to be able to connect things like GPS with ease. The rear sliding small middle window can be closed and opened electrically. The bin has movable cargo hooks and is equipped with an additional power point.    

Performance

Let us bear in mind that this is a bakkie and needs to be viewed as such, especially when the market offers 4.0-litre derivatives. Bakkies are tools at the end of the day, and not race cars. What is important to me is its ability to do the work it was designed for. At the heart of it all is a 2.3 diesel engine which can be mated to either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic gearbox. This powerplant produces 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque, which is ample in my books.

4×4 bits

Do not be fooled by the broad and athletic shoulders, and assume you are dealing with those gym guys who hate squat sessions, at heart, the Stealth is a capable 4×4 athlete.

A 5-link coil rear suspension does all the work at the rear and is the reason for this bakkie’s incredible off-road capability, which sets the Navara apart from its competitors who are still hung up on leaf springs. The rear suspension allows the Navara to show off more of its underbelly (articulation of the suspension) and maximise traction where it matters most – off-road.

Safety

As mentioned above, daytime running lights ensure that the car is seen in almost all circumstances during the day. Add to that is the intelligent key system, intelligent 4×4 system (responsible for smoother cornering by being able to adjust power output to the front and rear wheels (axles). Hill start assist comes handy especially when playing off-road. The four cameras allow for an all-round exterior view, eliminating the need of extra eyes on tight and technical 4×4 tracks.

The Verdict

 The new Navara Stealth is priced at R582 200 and comes standard with a 3yr/90 000km service plan. Add to that is the addition of a class leading 6yr/150 000km warranty.

I liked the blend of luxury and capability of the package, but the 7-speed automatic gearbox can be sluggish at times and whine the motor, which can be of concern to some people. But in my view the Japanese would not have allowed such if they knew it would compromise on the reliability of their product.

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