For quite a while before 2015, there really wasn't much to write about Nissan's pick-up offering in the market. The Eagle, the Frontier, and even the previous generation D40 Navara were solid trucks, but they seemed to be just content to be present in the market as their competitors took the lead.
Such isn't the case anymore for this NP300 Navara.
The NP300 was first revealed to us in 2014. We had a chance to try it out on Thai roads and, later on, on the sand dunes of Ilocos Norte, but now we're sticking the Navara in the city, and see if this truck really can be a great daily driver.
For one, it's styled to look good anywhere you take it. Designers of pick-ups are usually constrained given the body shape, but that didn't stop Nissan from making the Navara one of the most stylish of the bunch. Smooth surfaces, rounded edges, and an upscale looking front end are what make the Navara different from the tough looking trucks in the market. The wheels are quite nice to look at, and the way the bed is designed -even with that flat ledge on the tailgate- speak of a lifestyle truck.
Looking around the cabin, the Navara is clearly intended for non-traditional clientele. The dashboard is far more upscale than before; it's more reminiscent of one you would find in an executive car or SUV rather than a pick-up. The seats are quite comfortable, the controls (steering, shifter) have that premium feel about them, and the buttons are nice to the touch. Legroom in the back is quite good; a far cry from what was expected of pick-ups back in the day.
In the features department, the Navara certainly doesn't feel shortchanged. Steering wheel buttons, daylight running LEDs, projector headlamps, USB input, Aux input and Bluetooth connectivity. The infotainment system could have been better, as the display feels like it's a generation behind in terms of graphics; we can fault the Navara's competitors for raising the bar in the in-car entertainment field.
Start her up and the 2.5L turbodiesel fires itself up, and then settles down to a smooth and quiet idle. The engine itself is a carryover from the previous generation, but they didn't really need to change it anyway as 190 PS and 450 Nm of torque is quite plenty; that torque figure will come in handy if you do fulfill the trucks purpose and load up the back. What Nissan did change was the transmission: the Navara now gets a 7-speed automatic gearbox with good ol' 4x4 drive, if you need it.
On the daily commute, the Navara feels much like a well engineered SUV rather than a truck thanks to an automatic gearbox that takes care of shifts smoothly and an engine that has plenty of go. Fuel economy is one of the best attributes of the Navara, yielding 10.5 kilometers for every liter of diesel in the city (22 km/h average speed) and 14.2 km/l on the highway (91 km/h average).
The best bit about the Navara is it's rear suspension: they've tossed out the classic leaf springs in favor of the more pliant 5-link coil-spring set-up. Pick-up purists may find that sacrilegious, but it's ideal for those who seek the performance and capabilities of the truck without a ride that can shake milk into butter. Sure, the softer suspension makes the rear squat when fully loaded, but it'll still get the job done if needed. The suspension set-up also doesn't take away from the off-road abilities of the Navara; we've put that to the test on trails and sand dunes beforehand, and still it kept on smiling.
Overall, the NP300 Navara performs as advertised; stylish, efficient, powerful, capable and, finally, comfortable. At PhP 1,520,000, this VL 4x4 version is definitely a good deal in the segment and -if you really need to know- yes, the airconditioning is very cold as well.