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2015 Nissan Navara NP300 Range review

By Matt Raudonikis, 01 Jun 2015 Road Tests

2015 Nissan Navara NP300 Range review

Nissan’s long-awaited D23 Navara range is here and is a step up over both the Navvies it supersedes.


The NP300 Navara replaces both the current D40 and well-aged D23 utes from Nissan and when the full range lands there will be some 27 different variants available. But that’s not happening until September and for now buyers will have to be content with just 14 models – four 4x2 and three 4x4; all dual-cab utes with pick-up style rear tubs; with a choice of six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic transmissions. The models to come will include single and king-cab variants plus cab-chassis to take a tray on the back.

Updated Nav _STX_3_4fv1Powering the Navara 4x4 models is a new 2.3-liter diesel engine that is available in two states of tune - making 120kW and 403Nm with a single turbo in the RX grade or 140kW and 450Nm with a pair of turbos in the ST and ST-X spec vehicles.  The engine offers as good as 6.5L/100km fuel consumption in 4x4 Navaras with the new 6-speed manual ‘box while the new 7-speed returns 7.0L/100km on the ADR combined cycle.

All double-cab NP300s, or D23s in the old speak, are fitted with a coil sprung, multi-link rear suspension set up. In a workhorse segment where old school leaf springs are the usual fare, the Navara’s rear suspension is an indication of the changing face of the ute buyer offering more passenger car like ride and handling characteristics. The single and king-cab models will retain leaf springs in recognition of their load-lugging focus.

Speaking of loads, the 4x4 models are rated to tow 3500kg capacity with a factory tow bar which is optional on all vehicles. GVM is 2910kg for the 4x4s giving between 930 and 1034kg load capacity depending on spec. Gross combined mass is 5910kg. The load capacities of the Navara will be relatively close between the coil or leaf rear suspensions and all will have the 3500kg towing.

Updated -Nav _STX_3_4r3ON ROAD

The Navara retains a double-wishbone coil sprung independent front end to go with the new coily live rear axle. It’s a firm without being harsh ride with flat corning and reasonable dynamics for what is still a light truck. The steering feel is a bit doughy on the road but didn’t feel so bad on gravel tracks.

Driving on corrugated outback gravel roads in the Gawler Rangers of South Australia, where conventional leaf springs would be prone to axle hop and skip, the composure of the coil sprung multilink rear suspension impressed, keeping the Navara controlled and relatively smooth riding. 

There’s nothing lacking in the performance from the twin turbocharged diesel engine delivering its torque in droves from low in the rev range up to redline, where it is a bit noisy and harsh in the upper reaches. The seven-speed auto transmission is unremarkable in general driving being smooth and effortless but it became fussed when pushed on hilly twisting roads where the manual shifting function gave more control.

The 120kW/403Nm, single turbocharger version of the same 2.3L diesel engine proved up to the job as well when sampled in the six-speed manual equipped base spec RX Navara. If anything it felt as punchy as its twin-turbo counterpart although that could have more to do with the manual gearbox and different gearing. Both the clutch action and shift quality of the manual car are adequate and certainly not inspired or sporting.

The cabin is quiet and comfortable although the lack of reach adjustment for the steering wheel means getting the driving position perfect is impossible. Visibility is good but it takes a bit of getting used to the high front ’guards and knowing where those front wheels are. A reversing camera is standard on ST and ST-X Navaras.

Updated Nav _STX_3_4rmud3OFF ROAD

Our drive was on station tracks and outback roads with no low range or actual off road driving. As such ground clearance was never an issue and the traction was only questioned on the sandier tracks where switching off the stability control helped. A rear diff lock is standard only on ST and ST-X but it didn’t get a workout on this drive. Low range ratio is 2.717:1 and the part-time 4x4 system is switched using a dash dial.

Water fording depth is listed at a relatively low 450mm and with the air intake located at the front of the bay above the headlight we can see why. We know the aftermarket companies are working to have an intake snorkel available ASAP. Fuel capacity is 80-liters. The wheels are 16-inch steelies on the RX, 16-inch alloys on ST and 18-inch alloys on the ST-X.

The standard 12-volt outlet in the cargo tub will be handy if you want to carry a fridge or use a camp light at the back of the car while the adjustable utili-track tie-down point that come in the ST-X are a ripper feature that you’ll wish were in your ST if you buy one.

Uupda Nav _STX_trayINSIDE

The specifications and features offered on the new Navara are indicative of the evolving use of utes as they become more popular as family transport. Power adjustable, heated leather seats, dual zone climate control, satellite navigation, Bluetooth and USB ports are all included in the top-spec ST-X grade 4x4 we are driving here.

The comfort and convenience features make the cabin of this new Navara a much nicer place to be than inside the utes of yore. The seating position is comfortable even though the steering column is not adjustable for reach, and the general ride and refinement are more passenger car-like than in the past.  With a shorter wheelbase under the chassis, the rear seat leg room is a touch smaller than the outgoing D40 Navara but it’s still adequate for adults.

Updated Nav _STX_dashFive star safety ratings are also de-rigueur in this class and Nissan Australia is hoping for the full rating when the Navara is tested by ANCAP, although the omission of a head rest in the centre rear seat could be an issue. Standard safety kit includes seven airbags, reverse camera (ST and ST-X only) ABS, electronic stability and traction control and brake assist. Missing are some of the latest safety technologies that, while yet to appear in the ute class are expected on other new models before years end. Features like autonomous emergency braking, emergency stop warning, blind spot indicators and lane departure warning are not offered at all on Navara, although not having any or all of these features will not prevent a five-star ANCAP rating.

Upd Nav _STX_int5SUMMARY

The new Navara isn’t a game changer in the ever-competitive ute segment but it is a better vehicle all round than the two Navara models it replaces. It hasn’t made the great leap forward in terms of size and dynamics that competitors like the Volkswagen Amarok and the Ford Ranger/Mazda BT-50 siblings did a few years ago and with updates to the Ranger/BT-50 coming soon, a new Triton just delivered from Mitsubishi and a new model of the sales-leading Toyota Hilux just around the corner, the Navara will have its work cut out for it to maintain its popularity.

We’ll have to wait until we can line the Navvie up with those competitor vehicles before we pass judgement but the Nissan will remain a good choice for both work and play and it’s certainly a step up from the previous models. It might not be the biggest or most powerful ute in the class but it’s in a price competitive segment and Nissan has positioned the NP300 well to keep it as one of the better sellers in the booming class.

Updayed Nav _STX_3_4pan1SPECS

Model: Nissan Navara ST-X 4x4

Engine: 2298cc 4cyl, dohc, turbo diesel

Max power: 140kW @ 3750rpm

Max torque: 450Nm @ 1500-2500rpm

Transmission: 6-sp manual or 7-sp automatic

44x system: Dual range, part-time

Crawl ratio: 47:1 (Man) 44.5:1 (auto)

Weight: 1921kg

Towing: 3500kg braked

Load: 930kg- 1034kg dual-cab 4x4

Fuel economy:  6.5-7.0L/100km ADR combined


RX manual dual cab


RX auto dual cab


ST manual dual cab


ST auto dual cab


ST-X manual dual cab


ST-X auto dual cab


MSRP does not include on road costs

Click here to read the full range review of the Nissan Navara 

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