WHAT you see here is the new Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior.
The N-Trek Warrior is not to be confused with the bread-and-butter N-Trek, which is merely an exercise in styling. In contrast, the Warrior is an exercise in engineering, or more specifically chassis re-engineering by Premcar, the current embodiment of the Prodrive, Tickford and Ford Performance Vehicles dynasty.
It brings specially tuned springs and dampers and a bigger wheel/tyre package essentially to improve off-road performance. To this end the Warrior also sports a bespoke steel front bar, underbody protection and siderails, as well an LED light bar, a redesigned towbar and various styling enhancements.
The Warrior will be built in Melbourne by Premcar yet comes with full factory backing and warranty, and standard Navara powertrains. It’s offered with both six-speed manual and seven-speed automatic gearboxes.
In typical bi-turbo style the engine combines good off-idle response with its maximum torque (450Nm) on tap at just 1500rpm with a keenness to rev as peak power (140kW) doesn’t arrive until 3750rpm. This is a spritely engine in a standard Navara and while the Warrior’s extra hardware adds some 200kg, and the taller tyres raise the overall gearing by just over seven per cent, it continues to offer decent performance, aided by the fact that the standard Navara’s overall gearing is quite short so the taller tyres compensate for this rather than make overall gearing too tall.
Not so good is the fact that the engine is relatively noisy and even harsh under load; it’s certainly the least refined of the diesels here. For its part the seven-speed automatic shifts smoothly enough but can be reluctant to back-shift under load preferring to generally hang on to a taller gear than to reach for a shorter gear.
If all that sounds a bit lukewarm, there’s nothing second-rate about the way the chassis changes work on the road despite the taller ride height and off-road-orientated tyre and wheel package.
Up front lighter springs replace the stock springs but there’s an extra long, progressive bump stop, which firms up the spring rate towards full compression. At the rear, dual-rate springs continue to be employed but are softer in the initial spring but firmer in the secondary spring. The new springs are from Monroe while the standard swaybars are retained.
Perhaps more important than the new springs are the more substantial Tenneco dampers ‘tuned’ by Premcar’s engineers. The ride feels firm at lower speeds but the whole package comes together beautifully the faster you go. The fact that the Warrior feels better on the road despite the extra ride height and light-truck all-terrain tyres is testament to the quality of Premcar’s work. And remember that the Navara’s chassis has been troubled from day one and Nissan itself has reworked the suspension twice since the D23 first appeared in 2015.
The chassis changes have brought 40mm more lift, 25mm of that via the taller 275/70R17 Cooper Discoverer light-truck all-terrains. Both the lift and the tyres transform the off-road performance from the standard Navara’s rather modest capability to something that’s far more respectable. Ground clearance is an issue with a standard Navara, so the extra 40mm is more than welcome.
As ever the raised bonnet edges are a negative in terms of off-road visibility. The rotary-dial part-time 4x4 system offers deep low-range reduction but the gearbox can be reluctant to down shift on descent even when used in the ‘manual’ tip-shift mode.
Set-Piece Hill Climb
Despite the all-terrain tyres, the Warrior couldn’t make it up the set-piece hill climb relying on the traction control alone but managed the climb once the rear diff lock was engaged, and did it fairly easily. Unlike the Triton, engaging the rear locker keeps the traction active on the front wheels, which is advantageous.
Cabin, Equipment and Safety
The Warrior is based on an ST-X Navara with the luxury option pack, so is well equipped in basic form, and comes with the addition of a themed interior with bespoke part-leather seat trim and carpets. The generous equipment list extends to smart-key entry and start, electric adjust for the driver’s seat, heated front seats, embedded satnav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and an eight-inch touchscreen.
There’s tilt-only steering wheel adjustment, however, and some complaint from our judges that the lumbar support is too low in the driver’s seat. Otherwise the Warrior’s cabin is what you expect from a Navara-based ute; spacious but not as big as some and not really roomy enough for three adults in the back seat with any sort of long-distance comfort.
No fewer than seven airbags help to achieve a five-star ANCAP rating when the Navara was last tested, but there’s no high-end safety features such as automatic emergency braking.
The Warrior retains the 3500kg towing capacity of the standard Navara but the payload is reduced due to the extra hardware fitted. The GVM and GCM figures remain unchanged from the standard Navara while adjustable tie-down arrangement in tray is a nice touch.
Off-road practicalities run to one front recovery point while the engine-air intake under the bonnet lip isn’t ideal for deep water crossings, so you’d want to fit a snorkel.
In the Warrior, Premcar’s engineers have achieved the seemingly impossible in creating a vehicle that is more dynamically pleasing on-road but more capable off-road. That’s a rare feat deserving of high praise.
NISSAN NAVARA N-TREK WARRIOR SPECS:
Engine: 2.3-litre 4-cyl bi-turbo diesel
Max Power: 140kW at 3750rpm
Max Torque: 450Nm at 1500-2500rpm
Gearbox: 7-speed automatic
4x4 System: Dual-range part-time
Kerb Weight: 2186kg
Towing Capacity: 3500kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 80 litres
ADR Fuel Claim: 7.0L/100km
Test Fuel Use: 11.9L/100km
Effective Range: 622km
Base Price: $65,490 (driveaway)
As-Tested: $65,490 (driveaway)
Putting the best 4x4s to the test on 4X4 of the Year
4X4 of the Year Verdict - 4th Place
The name might be a mouthful but the end result is very tasty. This locally engineered take on the Navara looks good and works even better. As judge and editor Matt Raudonikis said: “Premcar has done a stellar job on the Navara. Nissan had three stabs at getting the suspension right but it took Premcar to do the job”.