NISSAN will stiffen the rear suspension on its dual-cab Navara as part of a Series II update due in showrooms later this year.
A bulletin sent to dealers and obtained by 4X4 Australia outlines that the Navara Series II update will include revised suspension claimed to be “slightly firmer yet [with a] rounded ride with improved lateral stability”.
The changes involve the fitment of stiffer rear springs, new shock absorbers front and rear, and new rear rebound dampers, all aimed at better controlling the tail, especially when laden.
The coil spring rear-end – unique in the dual-cab ute class – has been controversial since it was introduced on this latest generation Navara, known as NP300.
While it brings some benefits when unladen, it has been criticised for struggling to cope with anything approaching its claimed payload, which is north of 900kg.
A recent 4x4 tow test highlighted deficiencies with the Navara dual-cab’s load-carrying ability, with wayward handling and regular bottoming of the springs once hundreds of kilograms were piled into the tray; as the judges concluded, the Navara “stood out for all the wrong reasons” and “didn’t feel happy”.
Yet it's not just the suspension that Nissan is tweaking with the quick-to-market Series II update of a car that has only been on the market for a year.
The NP300 badging is being dropped, with Nissan instead focusing on the main Navara badging, something that could simplify the dealership sales pitch.
Nissan has also taken the opportunity to revise the dual-cab range and introduce a new mid-grade SL with 4WD. The SL will slot between the RX and ST.
The DX still kicks the range off and the ST-L is still at the top of the Navara tree.
The SL is aimed at tradies wanting the higher output engine but chunkier body; SL models will get steel wheels and vinyl floors, but will get the 140kW/450Nm twin-turbo version of the 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine.
Within existing model grades there are also changes to the Navara. The RX gets the vinyl flooring of the DX base model, for example.
The ST will soon get sat-nav standard, while the sunroof that was previously standard on the ST-L has been relegated to the options list.
Nissan also appears to be taking the opportunity to trim production costs.
The shading strip interpreted in the top of the windscreen will only block out a small area on either side of the rear vision mirror.
Even the chrome finish on the smart-key button of the ST-L's front door handle has been replaced with a rubber finish. And the pop-out rear cup-holders have been dropped.
The engine cover has also changed and deletes the silver Nissan logo, instead replacing it with silver painted “Nissan”.
Only a few years ago the Navara ran second in the ute sales race to the dominant Toyota Hilux. However, even with the arrival of an all-new model, sales have struggled for the Nissan ute. For the first nine months of 2016 the Navara has sold less than half the number of Hiluxes and Rangers and now trails the Triton and Colorado.
A Nissan spokesman declined to comment on the upcoming Navara Series II: “It’s too soon to talk about upgrades or changes to the [Navara] range.”