A beast in truck’s clothing » Manila Bulletin Newsbit


Five beastly features of the Nissan NP300 Navarra


Text and photos by Eric Tipan

The last time I was in a Navara, I was gunning it through the La Paz sand dunes in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Different time, different terrain but all the Navara needed was lower psi on each tire (13 to be exact).

With Limited Slip Differential, Traction Control System, VDC (Vehicle Dynamic Control), ABLS (Active Brake Limited Slip), HSA (Hill Start Assist) and HDC (Hill Descent Control), the sand dunes never had a chance to bog down the Navara.

Two years after, I get a hold of the top trim VL 7AT and find five features that continue to make it a beast of a truck, even in the city.

Powertrain and performance

The four cylinders of the Navara’s YD25 engine may only have a capacity of 2.5L, which is the same amount as that big bottle of your favorite cola, but what it does with it is simply, whoa!

Using a variable-geometry turbocharger with intercooler, it charges ahead with every little hint of throttle pressure and despite shift points being just at or a little over 2,000 RPM, it still managed a very respectable 8.3-km/L in pure city driving.

It feels aggressive because of how responsive it is and you can hear it roar as it lunges forward from inside the cabin.

Paired with a smooth-shifting seven-speed automatic similar to what the Infiniti QX80 and the 370Z sports coupe uses, the 190-PS and 450-Nm of torque feels raw when you’re sitting on top of front independent double-wishbone with coil spring and stabilizer suspension and a rigid five-link suspension with stabilizer in the rear.

There are occasions when it does feel somewhat sedan-like inside but that’s only on near perfect road conditions. The Navara is still a truck after all.

Climate control

Climate Control systems of other models out there, whether new or old, simply ‘melt’ under the heat and humidity of the Philippines. The Navarra’s air-conditioning system lives up to the Nissan heritage.

I know most people seek this feature when auto-hunting as cabins do get extremely hot when vehicles are parked under the sun in this country, regardless of the season.

From the humble Almera all the way to the Navara, this Nissan also comes with rear aircon vents installed right behind the center console so that the quick-cooling effect may also be felt by second-row passengers.

Cabin comforts

Leg- and elbow-room abound in this five-seater cabin. Without adding to its exterior dimensions and taking away from the cargo capacity of the bed, designers were able to provide the interior with a good amount of roominess. This makes laptop bags, gym gear and other hand-carried items an easy compromise in the cabin even if officemates are hitching a ride.

Relax under a heavy downpour knowing that with a ground clearance of 245 mm you’ll be okay against flash floods in Metro Manila, just don’t get any bright ideas about crossing rivers and gorges.

Digital compass and rearview camera

If you’re practically city-bound and very rarely go off-roading, you’ll still appreciate the digital compass that comes installed on the rearview mirror. You may never need it like explorers do when they’re in the middle of nowhere desperate for a point of reference, but there’s just something very manly about saying “I’m on EDSA headed north” when the girlfriend calls to check on you.

Also, for a truck this size, it’s a good thing Nissan blessed the VL with a reverse camera to make you look like a pro whether you’re making a two-point turn or backing into a parking slot.

Sport bar with high-mount stop lamp

This one is an accessory mounted on the test unit, one that should be made standard in my opinion. Aside from it aesthetic effect, making the rear look highly appealing and somehow more compact and shorter, it also increases the body’s rigidity, which reduced the overall noise, vibration and harshness levels of the Navara VL.And as an added safety feature, it also sports the vehicle’s high-mount stop lamp.

Beast of a truck

This truck is simply a beast in more ways than one.Backed by a strong and efficient engine, the top of the line model comes with a monster package that includes and exterior, interior, safety and ease-of-use features that will be hard to top.

It’s a great hyperactive off-road unit that can be tamed for city use by a driver with the right demeanor. She may look like a beauty but don’t be deceived, the Nissan NP300 Navarra 2.5L VL 7AT is an absoute beast in truck’s clothing.

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