Smoother, sexier and smarter: that sums up Nissan's first 'all new' Navara (NT300) in 10 years which will arrive in Australia early next year with a load of innovations. Comfort, performance, style and economy are at the forefront of the handsome ute, the first real newie in 10 years.
Sold in single, king and dual cab, most models will break with ute tradition by having advanced five-link and coil rear suspension.
But flat-earth believers can be assured it not only allows for a one-tonne payload and a 3.5t towing capacity, but gives a ride more like a Maxima sedan than a bone-jarring workhorse. However, 4x2 single and dual cabs will still be available with leaf springs.
Explore the 2015 Nissan Navara range
And under the new sculpted bonnet with its power bulges will be an advanced new 2.3litre turbo-diesel, replacing the 2.5 four and 3.0litre V6 motors of old - which won't meet Euro VI emissions standards.
Prices of the new Navara will be revealed closer to arrival.
Gone are the slab sides that were in vogue a few seasons ago. Now it's all about a strong, sporty look in a muscular curvaceous body. LED projector headlights with daytime running lights dominate the snoot with lines flowing over the bonnet and to the big doors. Wheel arches are back to house the mainly 16-inch alloys.
The new Navara is marginally shorter and lower than before and has better aerodynamics, now 0.37 compared to 0.41. It's also 70kg lighter.
Inside, the dash has the full monty of features with steering wheel controls for all audio and satnav functions and neat stitching gives the materials a classy and sporty look. Plus push-button start.
The mainly black sculpted dash has a fair bit of metal-look finishers to brighten the place and of course there's Bluetooth and associated bits, including aux and USB sockets. Some of the inboard computer meters can be customised and displayed on the big colour TFT screen that also houses the satnav and reverse camera.
The chassis is a carryover from the current model, likewise the front suspension, which has been recalibrated for a more compliant ride. But the multi-link and coil rear end is all new and makes a big difference to the ride.
In keeping with the comfort focus, the cabin has also been upgraded, the front seats straight from the upmarket Altima sedan. Ground clearance is 220mm, with a short front overhang.
Engine / Transmission
The new four-cylinder 2.3 will be available as a single turbo with output of 118kW/403Nm or twin turbo offering 140/450, which is lineball with what the earlier 2.5 developed. It's from Nissan's alliance with Renault - and it's a ripper.
It's a lusty runner and the big bonus is an 11per cent gain in fuel economy. There's also a four-pot a 2.5litre petrol motor with 118kW/231Nm. Transmission is by a six-speed manual or a smooth seven-speed automatic with manual mode.
Five stars are expected. There are seven airbags, including one for the driver's knees and electronic aids such as hill descent control, hill start assist, active limited brake slip and traction and stability control. 4WD models also get a limited slip diff.
A very welcome feature is the standard fitment of a reversing camera. Apart from the obvious safety, it's also a boon in parking the ute, which has a biggish (12.4m) turning circle.
The Navara had its international launch in Thailand, where it and and many other utes of the world, are produced. We did a couple of hundred km on a variety of roads and also put the ute over a purpose-built track with 30-degree climb and descend angles, plus severe suspension and torsion tests.
Loved the comfort and stability on the roads, stopped and took off again midway up the test track climb, walked it down the other side without touching the brakes and climbed over other obstacles few utes are likely to ever be subjected to.
We drove the twin-turbo 2.3 diesel automatic, which made light of all conditions and the big ventilated disc brakes brought us to a easy straight line stop when we rounded a corner and came face to face with some unexpected traffic in the form of an elephant.