ALTERNATE THINKING

NISSAN NAVARA

THE COMPLETE LINE-UP OF NISSANíS NEW NP300 NAVARAS IS FINALLY HERE.

2015íS MOST POPULAR 4X4S

Despite selling 2521 fewer Navara 4x4s in 2015 than it did in 2014, the Navara moves up one spot in the top-ten 4x4 sales chart, thanks to the demise of Jeepís Grand Cherokee. But that will bring no joy to Nissan, as the 17 per cent drop in Navara 4x4 sales is what really matters.

Nissan actually sold no fewer than three different generations of Navara during 2015, which must be some kind of record. For the first part of the year, Nissan sold both the D40 (which first appeared in late 2005) and the older, budget-priced D22 as an entry-level model, before the all-new NP300 was introduced midyear.

To make things even more complicated, the NP300 was initially only available as a dual-cab pick-up (with a coil-sprung rear end), and it wasnít until very late in 2015 that Nissan completed the full NP300 range. The new models that arrived in November included single and extra-cab models and a dual-cab cab-chassis variant with a traditional leaf-sprung rear-end.

No doubt this would have left many potential Navara buyers somewhat confused and perhaps heading off to another dealership.

The NP300 was a long time coming, given the previous-generation D40 debuted 10 years ago.

In designing the NP300, Nissan deliberately downsized instead of building a bigger ute to take on the likes of the Ford Ranger and the Volkswagen Amarok.

The Renault-sourced engines are also smaller (now 2.3 litres), although mid- and up-spec models use a bi-turbo arrangement (similar to the Amarok) to produce solid power and torque figures of 140kW and 450Nm. The single turbo version of the same engine used in the base-spec models claims 120kW and 403Nm. Gearboxes available are a six-speed manual or an optional seven-speed automatic.

Initial sales of the NP300 havenít been setting the world on fire and no doubt Nissan will be hoping for a better year in 2016 now that the full range of NP300s is available.