By Patrick James on 2017-07-30 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
WORKHORSE or lifestyle - take you choice, or enjoy the best of both worlds.
Nissan's Navara pick-up, along with many competitors, have now become almost 'hybrid' vehicles, combining genuine workhorse capability, with car-like comfort and practicality and surprisingly decent economy.
So it's no surprise that many now choose this type of vehicle to double as family transport.
The Navara comes in many guises from straight flat bed with different cab options, two or all wheel drive and with option to fully enclose the payload area with a rigid, but detachable hard top on this model, at a premium of more than £3,000.
But the double cab is surely the most appealing of this dual purpose vehicle with its five seat arrangement and comfort to match many family saloons.
It is an imposing vehicle, no, it is vast, but looks better than ever after a facelift last year which also saw the introduction of a new 2.3-litre diesel engine and a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty.
The Navara looks rugged yet sporty with imposing grille, boomerang-shaped LED daytime running lights within an impressive light cluster, 18-inch alloy wheels, body coloured bumpers, chrome door mirrors and roof rails. You cannot miss it because of its size, but also the bright yellow/orange livery which was a bit of a head-turner.
Car-like it may be, but never forget it is a workhorse and has been recognised as such by winning international pick-up of the year.
It is huge, has a payload of more than a ton is is capable of towing 3.5 tonnes.
The flatbed has a drop down tailgate for easy access and there is an ingenious combination of rails, cleat and lashing points galore to secure the payload.
Attach nets to the lashing points and you can even put your shopping or other day to day bits and pieces securely in there. What could be better for stowing all your needs for a camping holiday?
There are five trim grades from Visia, Acenta, Acenta+, N-Connecta through to Tekna and all feature seven airbags, electronic braking differential, off-road electronic aids such as hill start assist, cruise control and power windows are also fitted as standard across the range.
The N-Connecta model features the NissanConnect 2.0 satellite navigation and entertainment system with a seven-inch touchscreen display, digital radio, colour reversing camera and smartphone app integration.
New to the class is Around View Monitor (AVM) for safety when parking and manoeuvering and Forward Emergency Braking.
Choosing a vehicle like this, however, is not without its problems. The width and length means it can be a nightmare to park, particularly on older multi-storey car parks, but the five-link rear suspension system for the Double Cab model, delivers decent ride comfort and improved handling, and is 20kg lighter than the previous leaf spring layout.
The interior is neat and tidy with he door pockets can hold an A3 map book as well as a one-litre bottle plus rear door storage pockets.
It is an upgrade on the previous model with what Nissan describes as a sculpted appearance that creates increased space and a more open feel and more supportive seats supposedly inspired by the NASA space agency.
It's certainly roomy with the raised height giving a commanding view of the road.
Switchgear is well laid out instruments are clear, legible and logical, while safety is also comprehensive with front, rear and curtain airbags and ABS braking and stability programme.
The 2.3-litre twin-turbodiesel engine provides 188bhp resulting in impressive pulling power, but the six-speed manual gearbox however feels vague and notchy - a bit truck-like really.
The four-wheel drive system provides drive to the rear wheels under normal conditions or a 50/50 torque split to all four wheels when four-wheel-drive (4WD) mode is engaged.
For the really rough stuff, low range can be engaged which helps the vehicle up steep and slippery inclines by providing more torque at the wheels. For those most inhospitable of situations the mechanical diff-lock fitted to the test vehicle is available as an option. In addition, Hill Descent Control provides extra assistance on those tricky slopes.
It is also quick enough with a top speed of 112mph and is no slouch from a standing start, taking just taking less then 11 seconds to reach 60mph. The big thing is the economy, hugely improved on the previous engine at a claimed 44.9mpg, while emissions are much lower, 167g/km is very impressive for such a big, heavy vehicle.
Nissan Navara N-Connecta Double Cab
Mechanical: 188bhp, 2,488cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 114mph
0-62mph: 10.8 seconds
Combined MPG: 44.9
Insurance Group: 167g/km
C02 emissions: 35%
Warranty: 5yrs/100,000 miles
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