Double Cab model offers extra seating and spacious interior
Nissan is the only major Japanese auto producer to not offer a PPV (Pickup Passenger Vehicle) in Thailand, despite using the country as the production base for its Navara 1-ton pickup truck.
But the good news is that after years of declining the chance to offer one, Nissan has finally decided to design and produce a PPV based on the Navara – the Terra.
Unfortunately, the Terra isn’t made in Thailand at the moment, with the first model being launched in China. Nissan Motor Thailand president Antoine Barthes told Thai media earlier this month that the Terra will be officially introduced later this year, and will play an important part in helping Nissan increase sales here, along with the Leaf EV, which is also yet to be launched despite the announcement being made over six months ago.
So for now, Nissan’s top model from its Navara platform is the Double Cab 4WD VL priced at Bt1.09 million.
For the 2018 model year, Nissan has upgraded the Navara lineup with the addition of an all-around view monitor system with tiny screens embedded within the rearview mirror. The picture quality and graphics are good, and it’s easy to flick your eyes to that area, but the screen is pretty small and is no match for larger console-mounted monitors.
The Navara is Nissan’s 12th-generation pickup (the company has been producing pickup trucks for a very long time and was even the market leader in Thailand during the 1970s). But since the launch of the current generation in 2014, the Navara had never really made its presence felt in the Thai market, managing to claim less than a 5-per-cent share in the Thai 1-ton pickup market this year.
From my point of view, the sales performance of the Navara doesn’t really reflect what the truck has to offer. After driving it for a few days, I started to like the Navara for many reasons.
Nissan engineers have put a lot of thought into the interior, which offers a good level of comfort and space, while the quality of the materials (or even the upholstery stitching) reminds you of passenger cars rather than pickups. The top model I drove came with a total of seven airbags (including a driver knee airbag).
The 190-hp 2.5-litre turbo diesel provides the Navara with 450Nm of torque, giving it plenty of pulling power. Just feed the gas and the 7-speed automatic transmission takes care of picking the best shift points.
There is a shift-on-the-fly function for the 4-wheel-drive system transfer case, allowing drivers to select 2- and 4-wheel-drive without having to stop the vehicle. A limited slip differential (LSD) helps maximise off-road capability, while Hill Start Assist (HAC) and Hill Descent Control (HDC) helps lower drama when going up or down steep inclines.
On the road, the Navara offers decent handling with a good degree of maneuverability, considering it is a 2-ton truck. The steering is beefy and precise for pickup standards (thanks to the double-wishbone front suspension and stabiliser), and the ride is really smooth despite using leaf springs at the rear.
The surprise came when driving over really poor roads with multiple potholes and large cracks, as the Navara’s suspension not only absorbed the shocks and vibrations effectively, but also very quietly. I was expecting loud noises from underneath the Navara, but it exceeded my expectations.
There is bad news, unfortunately.
While the retail pricing of the Navara Double Cab 4x4 VL was below the Bt1 million mark when
it was first launched (Bt996,000) four years ago, it has climbed over the fence and now costs Bt1.09 million (approximately 10 per cent higher).
With the Terra scheduled for a launch soon, potential double-cab buyers might also find themselves looking at the PPV too, if the price gap isn’t too wide.
Nissan Navara Double Cab 4x4
DOHC 16-valve: VGS Turbo Intercooler
Bore and stroke: 89x100mm
Compression ratio: 15:1
Max power: 190hp/3,600rpm
Max torque: 450Nm/2,000rpm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic
Final drive ratio: 3.357
Suspension (f/r): double wishbone, stabiliser bar/multi-leaf springs, shock absorbers
Steering: power rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.4 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/drum
Track (f/r): 1,570/1,570
Wheels: 18x7 alloys
Fuel tank capacity: 80 litres
Price: Bt1.09 million
Distributor: Nissan Motor Thailand