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Nissan Navara N-SPORT Black Edition 2018 review


Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5

The metamorphosis of the humble 4x4 dual cab ute from a bare-boned utilitarian workhorse to a work-and-play family fun machine has been remarkable.

One of the driving forces behind the booming popularity of dual cab utes in this dual-purpose role has been Ford's premium-grade Ranger Wildtrak, which on release in 2012 set a new value-for-money benchmark for luxury and features buyers could expect off the showroom floor.

Huge demand for the Wildtrak not only created long waiting lists but prompted several rivals to respond with dressed-up versions of their own top-shelf 4x4 dual cabs, including Toyota's TRD-equipped HiLux SR-5 and more recently Nissan with its limited edition N-SPORT Black Edition.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

It says something about the fundamentals of the Navara's ladder-frame chassis and body architecture when Mercedes Benz chooses it as the basis of its first 4x4 dual cab ute - the X-Class. It also underpins Renault's Alaskan dual cab, and with the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi technical alliance, could well serve a similar role under the next Triton.

The Navara rides on a 3150mm wheelbase, which is 70mm shorter than the 'big foot' Ford Ranger, and 65mm longer than the Hilux, with an overall length of 5255mm and 12.4 metre turning circle.

It comes with black wheel arch flares. It comes with black wheel arch flares.

There's double-wishbone/coil spring front suspension and a five-link live rear axle which, like the new Merc, opts for more car-like coils rather than leaf springs. Even so, it adheres to its truck heritage by sticking with rear drum brakes.

Off-road credentials include an excellent lateral tilt angle of up to 50 degrees plus a 32.4 degrees approach angle, 26.7 degrees departure angle and 23.8 degrees ramp-over angle. Wading depth is a competitive 700mm along with its 228mm of ground clearance.

It has 18-inch black alloy wheels with 255/60R18 tyres (which are also black). It has 18-inch black alloy wheels with 255/60R18 tyres (which are also black).

There's a pleasant whiff of leather each time you open the doors, which reveal big grab handles on the A- and B-pillars for easy cabin entry.

Driver and front passenger comfort is pretty good overall and rear passengers at least get adequate head room and well-placed arm rests. On longer trips, though, taller adults may find the rear seat cushion height too low, as the resulting high knee position tends to concentrate more upper body weight on the lower spine. There's seating for three adults, but realistically, only for short journeys.

How practical is the space inside?

The Navara ST-X auto has a relatively light 1980kg kerb weight and 2910kg GVM, resulting in a 930kg payload capacity, so it's not a genuine 'one tonner' like some dual cab rivals.

It's also rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, but with a 5910kg GCM the maximum payload of 930kg has to be reduced by a substantial 500kg - or half a tonne - to legally do it. And that would only leave 430kg of payload capacity. 

It comes with a full-size alloy spare. It comes with a full-size alloy spare.

However, it's important to keep these chest-beating 3500kg towing claims in perspective. Fact is, the Navara is rated to tow up to 3000kg or 3.0 tonnes of braked trailer with a full 930kg payload, which for the vast majority of owners is way more than enough. 

Its overall length of 5255mm allows for a decent-sized cargo bed, with a load floor that's 1503mm long and 1560mm wide with 1130mm between the wheel arches (just not wide enough for an Aussie pallet).  With its 474mm depth that's more than 1.1 cubic metres of load volume with four sturdy tie-down points to keep it secure.

  • Cabin storage options include single bottle holders and storage pockets in each of the four doors. Cabin storage options include single bottle holders and storage pockets in each of the four doors.
  • Cabin storage options include single bottle holders and storage pockets in each of the four doors. Cabin storage options include single bottle holders and storage pockets in each of the four doors.

Cabin storage options include single bottle holders and storage pockets in each of the four doors, plus slim storage pockets on the rear of each front seat.

The dashboard has two pop-out cupholders, an upper storage tray and a single glove box, while the centre console includes a lidded box, two more cupholders and an open front cubby. Front seat passengers also get an overhead console with sunglasses holder.

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

The Navara N-SPORT Black Edition is limited to 500 units and only available on the top-of-the-range ST-X dual cab 4x4 in a choice of four colours including 'Cosmic Black', 'Slate Grey', 'Brilliant Silver' and 'Diamond White'.

Its assortment of black factory accessories (the black theme is really 'in' right now) includes a black sports bar, black nudge bar with LED light bar, gloss black honeycomb grille, smoky chrome (aka black) fog lamp finishes, black soft tonneau cover, black wheel arch flares, 18-inch black alloy wheels with 255/60R18 tyres (which are also black) and a full-size alloy spare. The finishing touches are unique N-SPORT badges and Black Edition body decals.

Driver and front passenger comfort is pretty good overall. Driver and front passenger comfort is pretty good overall.

Pricing starts at $54,490 with the six-speed manual and $56,990 with the seven-speed auto, which in both cases is a $2500 premium over the standard models.

Even the auto variant, which is now the most expensive Navara in the range, compares favourably with premium dual cab rivals including the VW Amarok V6 Ultimate auto ($67,990), Ranger Wildtrak auto ($61,790), Toyota Hilux TRD auto ($61,540) and Holden Colorado Z71 auto ($57,190).

There's a pleasant whiff of leather each time you open the doors. There's a pleasant whiff of leather each time you open the doors.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

The Navara's Renault-designed (YS23DDTT) 2.3-litre four cylinder twin-turbo diesel is a good engine for this application and one of the Navara's strong points. That's also why Mercedes-Benz has specified it as one of the X-Class's engine options.

Its seamless surge of power and torque is the result of two-stage in-line turbochargers, with a small primary unit providing lag-free throttle response at low revs and a larger secondary unit kicking in at higher rpm. A bountiful 450Nm between 1500-2500rpm is great for heavy load-lugging while 140kW at 3750rpm provides good mid-range acceleration for overtaking.

The Navara’s Renault-designed (YS23DDTT) 2.3-litre four cylinder twin-turbo diesel is a good engine for this application and one of the Navara’s strong points. The Navara’s Renault-designed (YS23DDTT) 2.3-litre four cylinder twin-turbo diesel is a good engine for this application and one of the Navara’s strong points.

The intelligent and sweet-shifting seven-speed automatic usually works best when left alone, regardless of load or driving conditions, with fuel economy at highway speeds enhanced by over-driven sixth and seventh ratios that keep the revs down.

There's also a manual sequential-shift function which is great when you're hauling a big load through hilly country, particularly when you want direct control of engine-braking on steep descents.

The 4x4 drivetrain is dual-range part-time with on-the-fly electronic engagement at speeds up to 100km/h. There's also electronic traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control, a rear limited-slip diff that can also be fully locked and a super-low 44.56:1 crawler gear, so it's well equipped for the toughest of the rough stuff.

How much fuel does it consume?

We've never been able to get close to Nissan's official combined figure of 7.0L/100km. Our real world numbers crunched from fuel bowser and trip meter readings came in at 10.6L/100km which is about average for a diesel dual cab 4x4 ute these days. Based on our figures, with its 80-litre tank you could expect a driving range of about 760km.

What's it like to drive?

The Navara's Series 2 suspension upgrade in 2016 resulted in more disciplined suspension control and firmer, more reassuring handling, without compromising its relatively supple ride quality.

However the power-assisted steering still has a rather heavy and lifeless feel that remains linear regardless of road speed. It's inferior to the latest variable-ratio systems in rivals like the Ranger and Amarok, so a similar upgrade would improve the driving experience.

Instant response from its torquey twin-turbo engine and smooth-shifting auto, combined with a relatively light kerb weight, results in brisk acceleration from standing starts and in low-to-mid speeds common in city and suburban driving. The front disc/rear drum arrangement provides strong and consistent braking.

It has a black nudge bar with LED light bar, gloss black honeycomb grille. It has a black nudge bar with LED light bar, gloss black honeycomb grille.

It's also a comfortable and relaxed highway cruiser thanks in no small part to the intelligent seven-speed auto, which keeps the engine within its 1500-2500rpm peak torque zone at full lock-up, with only 1800rpm at 100km/h and 2000rpm at 110km/h.

Engine, wind and tyre noise at these speeds are impressively low, with conversations taking place at normal levels.

We did not do a GVM test this time, as we tested an ST-X Series 2 with a near-maximum payload earlier this year and found the S2 rear coil springs were still not stiff enough to adequately support it.

The coils compressed 120mm - more than double that of rival leaf-springs. It was, in effect, like driving around on the rear bump stops, with a pronounced nose-up-tail-down stance. So if you need to regularly carry big payloads, there are other utes with leaf-spring rear-ends better suited.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

Five star ANCAP rating ensures plenty of passive and active safety features including driver and front passenger front and side airbags, driver's knee airbag and full-length side-curtain airbags.

The rear seat has three top-tether child seat anchorage points (but no ISOFIX) and three adult lap-sash belts but no centre headrest. There's also a reversing camera, reversing sensors, daytime running lights and an electronic stability control menu featuring brake force distribution (EDB), but no trailer sway control, blind spot detection, collision alert or AEB.

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

Nissan offers a three year/100,000km warranty with an extended warranty option. Plus, there's a three year 24 Hour Roadside Assistance Program.

Servicing is scheduled every 12 months or 20,000km whichever comes first, and capped price servicing applies to first six scheduled services up to 120,000km with costs varying between $547.00 (minimum) and $738.00 (maximum) per service.

There's nothing like a limited edition to spark buyer interest, even if it's mostly cosmetic. The N-SPORT Black Edition is tailor-made for that role as it stands out, looks good and there are only 500 on the books.

Whether it's worth an extra $2500 over a standard ST-X is purely subjective, but factory-fitted (and therefore factory-approved) accessories, badges and decals bring with them unique OEM integrity and value that remains with the parent vehicle for life. Which is something to think about, not only to enjoy during your ownership but also when the time comes to trade-in or sell. So if the Navara ST-X is high on your shopping list, but you're looking for something extra to seal the deal, then the N-SPORT Black Edition could be just what you're looking for.

Does the N-SPORT Black Edition make the Nissan Navara more desirable? Tell us what you think in the comments below.

$24,838 - $53,990

Based on 32 car listings in the last 6 months

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

4/5

Tradies score

4/5
Price Guide

$24,838 - $53,990

Based on 32 car listings in the last 6 months