Monday, 16 May 2022

’Luxury pick-up’ will run and run

AROUND the world the ubiquitous pick-up truck has become the transport of choice for a diverse mix of

AROUND the world the ubiquitous pick-up truck has become the transport of choice for a diverse mix of people.

Who can forget those images of rebel fighters, for example, artfully pictured setting out on a mission in a fleet of trusty pick-ups?

Going to war on the back of a truck is one thing — buying one purely as a leisure vehicle something else entirely. And yet, increasingly, motorists wanting a new car are realising that these types of vehicles are relatively cheap to buy and increasingly luxuriously kitted out.

Take this week’s drive — the new Nissan NP300 Navara. This double cab pick-up has been entirely remodelled from the ground up. The bottom line is that this new version now sparkles with equipment designed to make the Navara’s formerly utilitarian interior a true comfort zone.

The Navara was first introduced to the world in 1997. This 2016 NP300 version is the third generation and has been well received.

It has a fruity-sounding 2.3-litre twin turbo diesel engine that pulls as well as it sounds. When you start up the Navara, the first impression you get is that this is an engine that means business.

For a “car” that kicks off its range of models at a price as low as £22,000, I believe this type of vehicle is a new buy worth considering.

Even the test vehicle — the Navara Tekna Double Cab that tipped £27,000 in total price — still by my reckoning would prove excellent value for money.

One of the optional “extras” you would pay for was the sunroof (£450), but it is an important addition to equipment for it adds another simple layer of luxury.

From camping on the Costa del Sol to safari trips in the Sahara, you get the feeling that you could go anywhere in this vehicle. And along the way, have a lot of fun.

It seemed robustly cool, as if it is waiting — daring? — you to put the new Navara to the test. Rather like those fighters heading off to battle.

You might end up in some challenging situations, but the level of equipment available to you should get you out of trouble.

Of course a lot has changed since the Navara did the rounds as a builder’s truck. But it could still take that kind of work in its stride, one feels. Yet you might not wish to get its smart Cayman Blue livery dirty.

Perched up high in its leather seats — it has an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and four-way adjustable front passenger seat — you have every right to feel pampered.

And why not? Once carmakers realised that these most appealing of vehicles could be made even more attractive when fitted with “luxuries” normally associated with prestigious saloons, the global market for them exploded.

With your hands clasped firmly around a leather steering wheel and pleasing sounds emanating from a six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system, it’s easy to forget about the pick-up’s work-related past. The seven-speed automatic transmission was excellent.

I also liked the simplicity of design for controlling everything from the driver’s seat — from the high-resolution seven-inch touch screen to the steering wheel-mounted audio controls.

The NissanConnect 2.0 satellite navigation and entertainment system comprised digital radio (DAB), smartphone app integration, Bluetooth audio streaming and telephone integration — including traffic updates and eco-driving tracking.

One paramount piece of standard equipment included was the colour reversing camera and rear parking sensors. Truly, on a long vehicle such as this, the latter sensors are a must. There may have been a time when we all parked and manoeuvred cars by touch and skill, but these sensors now seem indispensable.

Maybe this is a sign we rely on technology too much. Yet as a recent convert to the joys of satnav (part of me still thinks it disengages the brain, which is not a good thing), I tend to believe the more aids a driver can get access to the better.

There may be an argument for all sorts of aides-memoires for older drivers to be made compulsory — goodness knows, as we age we need every bit of help we can get — and I for one believe that so-called driving “gadgetry” can make for safer motoring.

The Navara’s cruise control and speed limiter are easily located and simply operated; the LED headlights powerful and clear for night driving.

Best of all, for me, was the fact that after a couple of longish drives I felt little driver fatigue — as in an aching back and limbs — upon arrival.

Nissan says that it is “so confident in the robustness and quality of the all-new NP300 Navara that we offer a five-year /100,000 miles manufacturer warranty as standard”.

I think Nissan has every right to feel a bit chuffed at how this latest Navara has turned out. In comfort, style and safety — and with a liberal dose of fun thrown in — I think the Navara show will run and run.

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