By: Jason Woosey

Yokohama, Japan - Nissan has wasted no time in pointing out that its all-new NP300 Navara is backed by 80-years of bakkie-building experience. Yet the new contender looks to be a truly modern bakkie in every respect, with reduced body weight, improved efficiency and contemporary styling.

MODERN STYLE

Although its exterior design appears less rugged than before, with its smooth silhouette, sculpted fenders and boomerang-shaped LED signature in the headlights, the new design is easy on the eye and it's unlikely to offend any potential customers; except, perhaps, those completely stuck in a 1980s time warp.

But let there be no confusion here - it's still quite a toughie beneath the skin, where you'll still find a high-strength chassis and leaf spring suspension that have been “engineered to take the punishment of intense daily usage” according to Nissan. It does, however, boast a reduced turning circle to make life a little easier in the urban jungle.

LESS THIRST

Initially the new Navara will only be available in 2.5-litre turbodiesel and 2.5-litre normally aspirated petrol guises. The diesel will be offered in two output levels: 120kW/403Nm and 140kW/450Nm and Nissan boasts about fuel economy gains of up to 11 percent.

The engines can be mated to either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic gearbox and as you'd expect, the choice also extends to 4x2 and 4x4 drive configurations. All-road performance is aided by gadgets like Vehicle Dynamic Control, Active Brake Limited Slip and Hill Descent Control.

COMING TO SA

According to Nissan SA's Veralda Schmidt, the new NP300 Navara will follow a global roll-out plan that includes South Africa, although specific timing and manufacturing locations will be confirmed in due course.

We also asked whether it would be assembled locally in Rosslyn, to which Schmidt replied: “It remains our ambition to increase future production volume in Rosslyn, which possibly includes local production of a new 1-tonne pick-up. Production of the new model has been delayed while global manufacturing capacity is aligned to demand worldwide.”