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Nissan has finally pulled the covers off its eagerly awaited Navara facelift, revealing the depth of body, interior and technological changes undertaken to help keep the long-lived D23 series relevant in an increasingly competitive ute market.
On sale in Australia from early 2021, pricing has yet to be announced.
But the biggest news right now is the unexpected introduction of the PRO-4X. A badge found on other Nissan pick-ups elsewhere, it seems to be in direct retaliation to the popular Ford Ranger Wildtrak and Raptor, as well as the Toyota HiLux Rogue and Rugged X twins.
The PRO-4X grade is easy to spot, with black adorning the badges, front bumper, grille, door handles, roof racks, running boards, mirror caps and 17-inch alloys, contrasted by red and magma-coloured (Nissan's description, not ours) accents.
More information will be revealed about PRO-4X – as well as its relationship with any future N-Trek and N-Trek Warrior versions – closer to launch time.
Although powertrain choices remain unchanged – meaning 120kW/403Nm single-turbo or 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo 2.3-litre four-cylinder diesel in six-speed manual or seven-speed torque-converter automatic options driving either the rear or all four wheels – only the cabin profile is recognisably Navara at first glance.
All versions usher in a larger and squarer nose design, with a significantly higher bonnet line and pronounced ‘interlock’ grille evoking the larger US-market Titan truck for a “more imposing” look. Restyled and more powerful LED headlights, a revised bumper, chunkier wheelarch mouldings (now with reflectors) and fresh colours (namely Forged Copper and Stealth Grey) further differentiate new Navara from old.
Nissan’s stylists have been busy out back too, as evidenced in the utility body-style by the reshaped LED tail-light lenses, tailgate skin and rear bumper that now boasts an integrated step for easier tub access. It seems that just the centre section of the 2014-vintage outgoing Navara has been left untouched, though even these gain more flush-fitting side steps to cut down wind noise.
Speaking of which, there are big claims about improved refinement, comfort and convenience inside, even though the basic dashboard architecture is carried over from before.
Leading the enhancements is an increase in sound-deadening material (left over from the now-defunct Mercedes-Benz X-Class parts stockpile, perhaps?), in an attempt to address some noise/vibration/harshness issues levelled at the D23 Navara.
Nissan’s omnipresent (but still lovely) three-spoke flat-bottomed steering wheel finds its way into the series, as do updated multimedia (with Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, satellite navigation, voice recognition and multiple USB ports) within an 8.0-inch central touchscreen, modernised instrumentation offering broader vehicle data and information, rain-sensing wipers and auto-folding mirrors.
Whether these are available on all variants for Australia isn’t yet known.
Rear-seat occupants also benefit from a reshaped cushion and backrest, with the latter gaining a folding armrest with cupholders.
On the ever-evolving safety front, the MY21 Navara scores some welcome driver-assist tech, including at last autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning that scans three vehicles ahead to reduce multi-car collisions, lane departure warning with intervention if ignored, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic Alert, driver attention alert and a 360-degree view camera that also includes a ‘off-road monitor’ to scan the terrain immediately ahead during low-speed 4x4 crawling.
While we’re down there, the rear axle has been strengthened and the tub is now larger and features flat-type tie-down hooks, resulting in a payload increase to 1.2 tonnes on some models. Nissan’s Active Brake Limited Slip Differential is fitted in 4x4 versions, as is a Trailer Sway Control system for more secure and safer towing.
Braked towing capability remains at 3500kg, but the double-wishbone front and five-point multi-link coil-sprung rear suspension system is said to be retuned, while the brakes still feature drums out back – as per most trucks at this price point. Anti-lock brakes and traction/stability controls also continue.
According to Nissan’s chief operating officer, Ashwani Gupta, the changes to the MY21 Navara are designed to keep it competitive on all fronts in a fierce and ever-changing truck market.
“We packaged the new model with a full set of advanced technologies to ensure enhanced dynamic performance on- and off-road, as well as safety and comfort ushering in a new age of toughness, tech, and peace of mind,” he said.
“For our customers it means confidence, driving pleasure, practicality and pride of ownership.”
More information, including full pricing and specification details, will be revealed closer to the Navara’s on-sale date in Australia, so please stay tuned.