Launched in 2005, the Nissan Navara is bigger, bolder, more powerful, more fuel efficient, roomier and better equipped than the Hardbody model that preceded it (which is still available as the NP300). Initially powered by a choice of either a 2.5-litre diesel or 4.0-litre V6 petrol, the Navara was well received and has become common place on South African roads.
Earlier this year Nissan launched a mildly face-lifted version of the Navara, but the biggest changes took place beneath the bonnet. The 2.5-litre turbocharged, 4-cylinder diesel engine received a boost in power from 128 kW and 403 Nm to a punchier 140 kW and 450 Nm, together with improved economy by 1.3 L/100km. Now however, Nissan have elevated the Navara to entirely new levels of performance with the introduction of an all-new 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine.
The V9X 3.0 V6 dCi is a clean-sheet design based on lessons learnt in development of the 2.0-litre dCi motor found in Nissan’s popular diesel Qashqai. From the start of development, the new engine was created to answer Nissan’s demands for a powerful but refined diesel, to match the high standards set by the VQ 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine. A key element of the new 65-degree V6 is the material chosen for the engine block. Compacted Graphite Iron (CGI) was selected for its ability to deliver all the strengths of cast iron, including high levels of stiffness and excellent noise absorption qualities, without the significant weight penalty of this more traditionally-accepted construction method. Engineers were able to reduce the compression to 16:1 to benefit not just economy and emissions but also noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Internal engine friction is reduced by the use of smooth components, such as a micro-finished forged steel crankshaft.
A class-leading 550 Nm of torque is delivered thanks to the fitment of a large single turbocharger, mounted within that 65-degree vee of the engine, an intercooler, and the use of the latest generation of Bosch common-rail fuel injection, which incorporates 7-hole piezo injectors and operates at 1800 bar. The V9X develops 170 kW of power in addition to that headline-grabbing 550 Nm of torque, positioning it as a clear class leader in terms of pure power. Peak torque is achieved from as low as 1 700 r/min and is available all the way to 2 500 r/min, while as much as 500 Nm is available from a mere 1 500 r/min. Idle speed is low at 650 r/min with none of the harsh vibrations or intrusive noise usually associated with a diesel.
On road performance is fantastic for a 2.1 tonne double-cab and the 3.0 dCi Navara simply devours hills and kilometers. The available torque from low engine revs offers a surge of acceleration and makes overtaking a pleasure regardless of the conditions. The Navara 3.0 dCi V6 is capable of a 0 – 100 km/h sprint time of 9.3 seconds and will reach a top speed of 195 km/h. Coupled with the impressive performance is the refined nature of the engine. Nissan has done a commendable job on eliminating the majority of vibration normally associated with a diesel engine. The revs climb smoothly and freely, while the rough agricultural tones of a traditional diesel are replaced by a coarse purr that underlies a familiar V6 burble. Nissan claim an average fuel consumption of 9.5 L/100km and although we averaged 10.6 L/100km during 700 km with the Navara, it’s still impressive considering we enjoyed the power and torque on offer.
Apart from being the most powerful diesel engine in its class, the Navara also lays claim to being the first double-cab to feature a 7-speed automatic transmission. Using a traditional torque converter instead of a dual-clutch transmission, the 7-speed automatic manages to deliver smooth shifts, which can also be initiated by the driver via a sequential shift mode.
The new V6 is wrapped in the same Navara bodywork as the rest of the range, meaning it features the same front grille design and smoother, better-integrated bumper introduced on the Navara and Pathfinder earlier in the year. The bonnet was also redesigned as part of the facelift and helps contribute to a lower coefficient of drag. The only feature distinguishing the 3.0 V6 dCi from the rest of the Navara range is the ‘V6′ emblem located on the either front fender.
Inside, quality plastics and switchgear are found on and around the dashboard, while instrumentation is clear and legible. Leather on the steering wheel, gear stick and hand brake elevate what is otherwise a decidedly modest interior. Optional is the Nissan Premium Connect infotainment system with a high-quality Bose stereo; integrated satellite navigation system; Bluetooth cell phone connectivity; 40GB hard drive for music storage; as well as Aux-In and USB connections. The Premium Connect system also includes a convenient reverse parking camera.
Occupant safety in the Navara is comprehensive. Front, side and curtain airbags for both front passengers are standard. Anti-lock braking (ABS) with Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist (BA) continues to provide directional control even under extreme emergency braking conditions, while Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) and the fitment of an Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS) ensure that stability and traction is controlled and maintained.
This electronic assistance complements the Intelligent Driving Control 4WD setup, which allows the driver to manually select between 2WD, 4WD HI, and 4WD LO modes. The Pathfinder adds a further level of comfort with an Auto mode, which relegates this decision to the myriad of sensors positioned around the vehicle and a high-speed, dedicated microprocessor.
Undoubtedly the jewel in the Navara’s crown, the V6 brings a new level of performance and economy to the double-cab class, but it doesn’t come cheap. Priced from R508 400, we couldn’t ignore the lack of luxuries and conveniences associated with other vehicles in this price range. The Navara 3.0 V6 dCi will be ideal for towing and when performance together with relative economy is required. However, if you’re looking for a bakkie that offers a bit of luxury with enough, as opposed to plenty, of power, then there are alternatives.
What we like…
- Smooth and powerful V6 diesel.
- Fuel economy relative to the power .
What we would like…
- Plenty more features as standard, or…
- A price under R500k.
|Base Price||R533 400|
|Warranty||3 year / 100 000 km|
|Engine Capacity||2 991 cm³|
|No. Of Cylinders||6-cylinders, V-formation|
|Power||170 kW @ 3 750 r/min|
|Torque||550 N.m @ 1 750 r/min|
|Drive type||Four-wheel drive|
|Acceleration||0-100 km/h in 9.3 seconds (claimed)|
|Top Speed||195 km/h (claimed)|
|Fuel Consumption||9.5 l/100km (claimed combined)|
|CO2 Emissions||250 g/km|