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Nissan Navara D/C 2.3dCi 4×4

7 February 2017

Crank it up


Jason Statham

Claim to fame: Jason Statham’s initial claim to fame was diving. Yep, for eight years he was part of Britain’s national diving squad. Then, after being spotted by a sport model agency, he began modelling, and eventually starred in a string of action movies including Crank. Statham is the quintessential hooligan-next-door superhero.

Great quote: “By the powers vested in me, I now pronounce you man and knife.”

British strongman Jason Statham kind of rewrote the action hero rulebook.

Instead of packing all the muscle in the world, Statham’s more lithe action-hero characters offer a unique blend of cool, calm, collected and, even gentlemanly. Of course, there’s also the ability to take on 30 men in hand-to-hand combat and roundhouse kick the lot of them into submission.

The all-new Nissan Navara falls very much into the same league. It’s good looking, but it’s also tough. And it packs a surprising punch too, as we found out in the Kalahari when it was one of only three 4x4s in the line-up to make it up a particularly daunting dune.


Besides the 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque (available from 1 500r/min) from a twin-turbocharged 2.3-litre four-pot diesel, it has another trick up its sleeve: a five-link independent rear suspension, instead of the regular workhorse-oriented leaf-spring set-up. This same chassis and set-up will also be used in the upcoming Mercedes-Benz X-class pick-up and Renault Alaskan bakkie.

That unique rear suspension set-up, we reckon, is the reason it made it up that dune. Teams had to build up a good bit of momentum over a rutted section of sand before hitting the base of the dune for the climb. Other bakkies that attempted the climb were clearly battling to keep their lighter tails from bouncing over the rough stuff. It’s called axle tramp, causing the rear wheels to bounce and lose contact with terra firma. Hence less speed achieved.

The Navara’s independent rear set-up, albeit with aftermarket springs and dampers, did not bounce nearly as much, so the wheels remained in contact with the sand more often, ensuring the extra 15km/h or so that enabled it to blast up that dune.

Coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox, and featuring an electronic 4×4 selection system (between 2H, 4H and 4Low), and armed with a bevy of electronics and a rear differential lock, the new Navara seems to have most of the 4×4 bases comprehensively covered. A seven-speed automatic gearbox is also available.


Styling-wise, the new Navara is, like Mr Statham, evolutionary instead of revolutionary. On the inside it’s a different matter: the new cabin is plush, luxurious and well appointed. Driving this Navara, you’d easily think you were piloting a high-end SUV, and not a bakkie.

Nissan’s Navara has rewritten the double cab rulebook. Offering SUV-like comfort and ride, combined with plenty of power, 4×4 ability and the potential to still carry almost 1 000kg on the bak, the new D23 is sure to warm the hearts of Nissan fans, and win over a few new ones, too.

We wait with baited breath for the final pricing to be announced. Clearly its price positioning in the local market will be vital.

Nissan Navara D/C 2.3dCi 4×4
2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel
Power: 140kW
Torque: 450Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
4WD System: Part-time 4WD (2H, 4H & 4LOW)
Traction aids: Stability & traction control, active brake limited slip (ABLS), rear diff lock, hill start assist, hill descent control
Ground Clearance: 226mm
Price: Not available yet