As we recently reported in Leisure Wheels magazine (issue 116, page 24), Nissan South Africa has released a new version of its popular Navara called the Safari.
In order to find out if Nissan’s latest Navara was really tough enough to venture into the rough stuff, though, we took it to three 4×4 trails this month. Would the Navara be rugged enough to hold its own on a challenging 4×4 track?
The bakkie is based on Nissan’s standard LE Navara, sporting 140 kW of power and 450 Nm of torque, but has been fitted with some useful aftermarket accessories as well. For instance, it has bash plates and rock sliders to protect its undercarriage, a nudge bar with spotlights, Safari-branded seat covers, a branded carpet set, all-terrain tyres, rubberising in the load area, a tonneau cover and a Safari decal set.
To celebrate the launch of the Safari, however, Nissan SA also went a step further. The company took a Navara Safari, and added some more extras to it, just to show how capable the bakkie could be if really kitted to tackle the rough stuff.
What else has been fitted to this Safari? Well, it has two roof racks – one on the roof with jerry cans, a water carrier, gas bottle and hi-lift jack; and one just above the load area that can house two ammo boxes and a mountain bike. Inside the load area is a drawer system. Hidden just behind its all-terrain tyres is a new EFS suspension.
With all of this kit installed, Nissan South Africa claims that this Navara Safari can go just about anywhere off the beaten track. To put this bold statement to the test, Leisure Wheels decided to take the vehicle to a couple of 4×4 trails to see what it could do.
The first venue we visited was the ADA training facility near Hartbeespoortdam. The venue has a nice mixture of off-road obstacles, so it was a great place to stretch the Navara’s legs and warm it up for some more extreme off-roading.
Unsurprisingly, the Navara didn’t have any problems at ADA. It tackled all the obstacles without missing a beat, mostly thanks to all the torque offered by its 2,5-litre oilburner. ADA has a couple of steep and sandy slopes, but the Navara charged up them as if they didn’t pose a test at all.
Our next destination, the well-known De Wildt 4×4 Trail, promised to offer a very decent test of the Navara Safari’s capabilities. De Wildt has loads of ditches, dongas and axle twisters – perfect for testing the bakkie’s wheel travel with its EFS suspension.
With low range and the rear differential lock engaged, it traversed these obstacles impressively. Its articulation was good, and when its wheels inevitably did start to leave the ground, the diff lock ensured that traction was maintained.
Probably the most intimidating obstacle at De Wildt is Gert se Klip – a very steep and undulating piece of rock that excellently tests a vehicle’s ability to power up a steep and uneven gradient.
How did the Navara do? It didn’t miss a beat. Gert se Klip looks tough and intimidating, but as long as a vehicle has enough oomph, sports adequate ground clearance, and manages to maintain traction, the rock is conquered fairly easily. With all that power and torque on tap, and with a diff lock for when the wheels started to spin on the incredibly slippery rock, the Safari cruised effortlessly up Gert se Klip, hardly noticing that it was busy dealing with an obstacle.
So, with Gert se Klip conquered, what else could be done to test the Safari? It was time to head for Moegatle 4×4 and the infamous Koos se Klip.
Moegatle, not too far from Brits, is known as one of South Africa’s “Terror Trails”. You need only glance at the pictures posted on its website to see how terrifying some of its obstacles are.
The most intimidating, and famous, of its obstacles is Koos se Klip – a massive piece of rock with a 45-degree route up and down that tests the capability of a vehicle, and the mettle of its driver, very thoroughly.
Much like Gert se Klip, however, the obstacle looks worse than it actually is. To be sure, traversing Koos se Klip can be quite harrowing, but you don’t need an extreme rock-crawling pipe car to scale it. Any competent 4×4 can do it, as long as it has enough torque and power to charge up the steep slope, and the ability to maintain traction on the bumpy surface. The Navara has a powerful oilburner and a diff lock, so getting up Koos se Klip wasn’t much of a problem. In fact, as Leisure Wheels’ Anzet du Plessis discovered, inching your way down the incredibly steep slope is actually tougher – especially if, like her, you’re a bit scared of heights.
Overall, the Navara Safari did incredibly well. With its aftermarket accessories, especially its all-terrain tyres and skid plates, the bakkie is now more off-road ready, but still as comfortable and refined on tarred surfaces as ever.
Arguably the best additions to the vehicle are the skid plates and rock sliders, since they add a lot of protection to the underside of the vehicle. When venturing off road, there is nothing quite as painful as being forced to listen breathlessly as the belly of your brand-new bakkie scrapes over a sharp rock. With these aftermarket accessories fitted, you don’t need to worry about that happening.
The Navara Safari costs more than the standard LE 4×4 model, but the value of the accessories (more than R50 000) exceeds the price increase, so the bakkie is good value for money. And with an added dollop of 4×4 ability, it won’t disappoint as an overland/leisure vehicle.