WATCH: Nissan Navara demolishes NP300 in car-to-car crash test
Johannesburg - Back in 2018 the South African-built Nissan NP300 Hardbody hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons when it was handed a zero-star safety rating by Global NCAP as part of its Safer Cars For Africa campaign, with the crash testing authority labelling the bakkie's performance as “shockingly bad”.
Clearly disappointed by the lack of action since then, the global safety authority has decided to make an even bigger statement by crashing a Hardbody into a Navara to demonstrate the difference in safety standards between the two products. A video of the offset head-on collision, which was conducted at 56km/h, was released by the partnering Automobile Association on YouTube on Tuesday - and the results are not flattering to the 'Hardbody'.
In fact, the difference between the two vehicles is literally "a matter of life and death", according to Global NCAP. The driver in the NP300 Hardbody would have likely sustained fatal injuries, the organisation said, while the Navara driver probably would have walked away from the crash.
As per the earlier crash test, the NP300’s passenger compartment collapsed, while the steering wheel protruded to the point where it was compressing the dummy.
Global NCAP is presenting the crash test as an example of Africa’s best-selling bakkie (the NP300 Hardbody) sold in its brand-new form, versus a second-hand version of the pick-up that’s for sale in Europe, to demonstrate the difference in safety standards between the two regions.
However, it’s interesting to note that the NP300, though built new in South Africa as a budget offering, is actually two generations older than the 'second hand' European-spec NP300 Navara that was used in the crash test, which is from the latest generation.
SA Navara production could improve standards
It’s also fair to note that the latest-generation Navara is available in South Africa and in other African markets, but it is for now a more expensive alternative, with pricing starting at R504 500 versus R275 900 for the older-generation NP300. However, last year Nissan SA announced that it would start producing the Navara at its Rosslyn plant in Gauteng from later in 2020 as part of a R3 billion investment, and while this is unlikely to spell the end of the older NP300 model, it should see the more modern Navara range expanding downwards to include more affordable derivatives.
For now though, the safety performance of the NP300 remains of huge concern.
“These results are extremely worrying and point to a major deficiency in the quality of vehicles available in Africa,” said AA CEO Willem Groenewald.
“We have for a long time been concerned that vehicles available in Africa are inferior to those in other markets such as Europe and Asia, and these results seem to confirm that concern.
“What this car-to-car crash also demonstrates is a complete disdain for African vehicle consumers and their safety at the expense of profit. It also again highlights the need for stricter regulation of standards and tougher controls in terms of allowing these inferior vehicles on to African roads.”