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2015 Nissan Navara | first drive review

Ewan Kennedy road tests and reviews the Nissan Navara, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Almost 80 years after building its first small truck Nissan (nee Datsun) has introduced the 12th generation of the Navara pickup, the D23 series.

Launched to the world’s motoring press in Thailand, where a huge new factory to build the Navara is in the final stages of construction, the all-new new Nissan pickup is unashamedly aimed at the sports ute buyer.

But don’t despair, those looking for a tough workhorse or a heavy-duty tow vehicle will also find a Navara that fits the bill.

There’s some carryover from the D22 Navara in the areas of the chassis frame, but even that has been significantly modified to trim weight, about 70 kg, and add strength. Payload is up to 1000kg and towing capacity is 3500kg.

Two rear suspension systems have been designed, a low-cost leaf-spring one and a sophisticated five-link setup. Payload and towing capacity are the same with both suspensions.


Navara’s tall bonnet is fronted by a grille that follows a similar design theme to the latest passenger models, except that the centre section has been considerably widened to add to the tough, commercial vehicle look. The bonnet has the sort of sculpting that wouldn't be out of place in a sports car, definitely not the sort of shape you would have seen in a working vehicle in the past.

There are large guards that are widened in some variants to cope with larger tyres and add to the tough guy look.

Inside, Navara looks more car-like than pickup-positioned. The dash features two large, clear dials that wouldn't be out of place in a car. The centre stack, houses a seven-inch satellite navigation and infotainment screen in upmarket versions. High quality materials are used throughout, certainly not the sort of low-grade plastics once seen in light trucks.


New Navara body types are single-cab, extra-cab and dual-cab and all three can be ordered as bare cab-chassis for custom built units.

There’s considerable speculation that a station wagon body may soon be announced. It would be a genuine 4WD, not an SUV, and would be offered with a diesel engine, something that’s simply not available in the latest Patrol, which is V8 petrol powered (though the ageing Patrol Y61 does have a diesel).


Though a variety of petrol and diesel engines is offered in some markets the Australian importers have settled for the newest design in the Nissan light-commercial range. A 2.3-litre turbo-diesel that comes in two distinct variants, producing 108 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque, or 140 kW and 450 Nm.

Presumably the lower powered unit will be used in the working Navaras and the high-power on in the sports and dual-cab versions. However, this is still to be confirmed as Nissan Australia isn’t releasing full specification details at this stage.

Six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic transmissions can be installed behind both engines. Drive is to the rear wheels in 2WD versions and all wheels in the 4WD.


Australian imports will have the maximum number of airbags, up to seven in the dual-cab versions and seem sure to gain five stars in crash testing when they reach us down under.


It didn’t come as a surprise that the only models offered to Australian journalists during our road tests out of Chiang Mai, Thailand were top of the line models – 4WDs with dual cabs and the more comfortable of the rear suspensions, the five-link setup. Makers generally do this to maximise good impressions at any vehicles. Following the Navara’s Australian launch - at a date yet to be set, but probably very early in 2015 – we hope to get into a solid range of vehicles and gather more test data.

On-road driving showed the all-new Nissan Navara D23 to be comfortable and competent. You wouldn't describe it as being car-like in its feel, but it’s not that far off. Australia families that can only afford a single vehicle will find it can combine “payload and playload”, to revive an old Datsun / Nissan pickup advertising slogan.

The back seat can accommodate three adults with good legroom – though the high floor doesn’t make for a particularly comfortable seating position. The rear backrest is at a good angle, unlike some in this class that are too upright in order to increase the length of the cargo tray.

We did some reasonably serious four-wheel driving in the mountainous regions, including muddy dirt roads that were slippery in places after recent rains. The big Nissan never looked like getting into trouble thanks to a neat combination of good basic suspension and clearances, and the latest in electronic driver aids.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

DX (4X4) 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $10,900 – 15,950 2015 Nissan Navara 2015 DX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
DX 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $9,600 – 14,410 2015 Nissan Navara 2015 DX Pricing and Specs
ST-R (4X4) 2.5L, Diesel, 5 SP MAN $16,400 – 22,880 2015 Nissan Navara 2015 ST-R (4X4) Pricing and Specs
RX (4X4) 2.5L, Diesel, 6 SP MAN $14,100 – 19,910 2015 Nissan Navara 2015 RX (4X4) Pricing and Specs
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