“Let the truck wars begin,” as Nissan PH’s big boss Antonio “Toti” Zara is wont to say when talking about the new Nissan NP300 Navara. Nissan’s first salvo in this all-out war began late February when the truck was launched and its mettle tested. The Navara’s tagline is “Tough. Smart.” Along with members of the media, Nissan headed over to Ilocos Norte to put that tagline to the test. On the paved country roads of Ilocos Norte, we tested its smarts. On the dusty trails of the Lapaz Sand Dunes, we tested its toughness. For one night, one full day, and one morning, we were able to test the new pickup in practically all road conditions.
Mere minutes after arriving in the quaint Laoag International Airport, we were ushered in groups of two to three into our Navara units. Four different trims of the Navara were available but they were assigned randomly. These are the 4×4 and 4×2 trims, which are further divided into manual and automatic transmission each. By happenstance, my group was ushered into the 4×4 7AT Navara, the most feature-packed trim among all seven. This trim came with an Intelligent Key and a Push to Start/Stop button, dual zone air conditioning, a rear vent, a rear camera, and a multi-functional steering wheel which connects to a TFT 3D screen with Bluetooth and USB connectivity, among a plethora of safety mechanisms. From the airport, we took our Navaras to our accommodations at the Plaza del Norte.
The next day was the Navara’s true test. The morning’s agenda started with a fuel eco run from the hotel to the streets of Ilocos Norte ending in the lovely Paoay Church. Fuel efficiency numbers clocked in remarkable numbers. Our giant 4×4 clocked in at 15.1 km to a liter, but the best in that category clocked in at whopping 18 km to a liter. As if that wasn’t enough, numbers for other categories reached levels of 25 km to a liter. While the roads of Ilocos Norte were conducive to a successful fuel eco run, we have yet to see the Navara in realistic driving conditions with diminished concentration on fuel economy. That comes in later, but the eco run was enough to test the passenger conditions.
For most of this ride, I took on the passenger side. Part of what intrigued me about the Navara was its capabilities as a passenger vehicle. With SUV-like features written on paper, I just had to see for myself if it could really double as a passenger vehicle. Leg room at the back was pleasantly ample. It’s not an SUV, but it has enough leg room to graduate from the usual stuffy pickup size. I bet I could even risk lying down on the comfortable rear seat. The rear vent was a tiny but welcome addition. Pickups don’t usually hold special consideration for the rear passengers so the addition of a rear vent subtly eliminated that stereotype. Connectivity options complemented the comfortable ride. Armed with a wire or Bluetooth, any device can connect to the pickup’s system. Perhaps the only hitch we encountered was the necessity to stop the vehicle to connect via Bluetooth. But besides that, the ride was fine, smooth, relaxing, and pleasant. What’s more, the multilink rear suspension adds to the comfort of the drive. Besides adding ruggedness and survivability in tough road conditions, the suspension ensures that the ride won’t be hell for the poor passengers at the back. I hardly felt a single bump from the back.
Next up, our round of merry Navaras trotted (or rather, zoomed) over to the Lapaz Sand Dunes to test out the Navaras on the sandy obstacle course. Needless to say, it was an extremely bumpy, but ultimately exciting ride. Down steep hills, across narrow passages, and banking along tilted inclines, the Nissan Navara was put to the ultimate test. Despite shaking more than Taylor Swift, the Navara came out stronger than ever. Once again, I rode in the backseat. It was a bumpy roller coaster ride, but the Navara survived. Owe that tough resiliency to the multilink rear suspension. To complement that, add in the in-line 4-cylinder DOHC 16-valve engine which powers out 190 ps and 450 Nm of torque. The steep hills were aptly controlled by the Hill Descent Control which prevented the car from snowballing out of control from the incline. The only hitches we experienced were because of tough sand traps. Otherwise, handling the sand course was only up to driver ability.
The final morning was my own drive test along the busy but smooth roads of Batac, Ilocos Norte. Acceleration was smooth. The big engine sped up to 80 or a hundred without a moment’s hesitation. Turning was light and easy, relative to what you would usually expect from a heavy 4×4. This is because the Navara has an astounding 70kg reduction in weight, as compared to previous models and usual pickup builds. In proper road conditions and driving, the Navara handled itself perfectly.
Our time with Navara was short but sweet. In that little time, we saw how well the Navara handled itself in the best and worst possible on- and off-road conditions. I haven’t seen the Navara handle the hellish metro traffic, but with credentials like what we just proved, I’d definitely want to be in one on daily commutes.
The new Nissan NP300 Navara is now available in Nissan dealerships. It is available in Savanna Orange, Galaxy Black, Brilliant Silver, and Alpine White. The introductory prices are set at:
|4×4 VL 7-speed||P1,490,000|
|4×4 VL 6-speed M/T||P1,421,000|
|4×4 EL 6-speed M/T||P1,256,000|
|4×2 EL 7-speed A/T Calibre||P1,108,000|
|4×2 EL 6-speed M/T Calibre||P1,038,000|
|4×2 6-speed M/T Calibre||P938,000|
|4×2 6-speed M/T||P898,000|