DESIGNING and developing a pick-up truck should be pretty straightforward - it needs to be tough, rugged, practical, hard-working, reliable and able to cope with any physical demands thrown in its path.
But nowadays there are additional pressures placed upon manufacturers because we also require comfort, bags of on-board technology, good economy and decent running costs.
Nissan has been building pick-up trucks for 80 years and has drawn on all that experience to develop the latest Navara NP300 which looks awesome and has all the workhorse capabilities necessary.
The vehicle looks good from any angle thanks to 18-inch alloys, roof rails, LED daytime running lights, front fog lights with chrome surround, LED headlights with pop-up washers, LED rear lights, rear privacy glass, a tailgate spoiler, side steps and plenty of chrome trim.
Step inside the four-door cab and the Navara is deceptively spacious and very elegantly laid out.
There are leather seats that can be electrically-adjusted and heated, a six-speaker sound system, seven-inch touchscreen with sat nav, DAB digital radio, a reversing camera, Bluetooth connectivity, dual zone air conditioning and plenty more besides.
This model in range-topping Tekna format was priced at £24,792 (£25,796 with options fitted). It could reach 62mph from a standing start in 10.8 seconds, maxes out at 114mph, delivers combined fuel economy of 44.1mpg and has carbon emissions of 169g/km.
It featured a 2.3-litre 190ps diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual transmission and proved great fun during the week-long loan.
Out on quicker roads and motorways the Navara moved along effortlessly and the acceleration was both smooth and responsive. The gearbox can be a little clunky, but it's certainly better than I expected.
In town centres, the vehicle proved surprisingly agile and the parking sensors and around view monitor make squeezing into a tight parking space much simpler than anticipated.
The powered steering is good, although it still feels a little heavy at times and if lots of tight manoeuvring was required on a regular basis, you could end up with biceps like Popeye.
That said, the all-round driving experience is impressive for a vehicle that features such powerful working capabilities.
The ride quality has been improved vastly thanks to the introduction of an all-new five link, lightweight suspension system and this certainly helps give the impression you are driving a crossover model rather than a truck.
Five occupants have plenty of space within the cabin and comfort levels are good, plus the high-seated driving position results in excellent all-round visibility.
The Navara has a whole range of safety specifications, including hill start assist, hill descent control, anti-lock brakes with electronic brakeforce distribution, numerous airbags and a selectable all-wheel-drive system with a low range mode and electronic slip differential which will make very light work of any off-road duties.
The pick-up sector is really hotting up at the moment with Mitsubishi, Ford, VW and Toyota all developing excellent vehicles and there will be more to come from other manufacturers in the near future.