NAVARA Steps Up In Appeal | Ute Review-Nissan Navara ST-X N-Trek

Warren Caves finds there’s much to like with the Narara N-Trek – Images by Torque it Up

In a bid to freshen up the appeal of its popular Navara dual-cab 4X4, Nissan has released a special edition in the form of the N-Trek.

Not to be confused with the soon to be released N-Trek Warrior, the N-Trek is a slightly more sedate version, a little less warrior and a bit more commanding officer.

That’s not to say the N-Trek isn’t capable, it is just that the Warrior moves things up to the next level.

Black is definitely King for Nissan right now evidenced by last year’s release of the ST, Black Edition and now the N-Trek. A common theme among the two are the addition of, for want of better words “Black bits”.

The main point of difference of the N-Trek, compared to the Black edition, is the latter version being based on the mid-spec ST model, whereas the N-Trek relates to Nissan’s flagship, ST-X model. Additionally, the N-Trek will not be restrained by limited production numbers because it will be an ongoing model. That’s handy for those who may have missed out on the limited 900-run Black Edition.

Black-themed model releases are common among most manufacturers of late, obviously a response to market trends which I find, a little curious.

To me, it didn’t seem like that long ago that if you were to purchase a white, 4X4 dual-cab ute with black mirrors, black wheels, black door handles and bumpers, you were most definitely choosing your vehicle from the dusty rear pages of that glossy sales brochure to end up with, “the council pack”. Now it would seem, this colour scheme is most desirable.

Keeping up with what the cool kids want, Nissan has adorned the N-Trek with 18-inch black alloy wheels, boldly shadowed by bolt-on black wheel arch flares, black sports bars, black side steps (with an orange accent line), black mirrors ( orange accented as well), black door handles, black roof rails, black front and rear bumpers (with the orange accent line on the front) and black headlight surround bezels. Rounding out the black theme are statement-making body decals.

Embellishments to the interior space include leather seats (electronically adjusted for the driver) with heating function on the front, orange cloth inserts and orange stitching which provides a unique interior colour contrast. The orange stitching flows into the centre console, front door armrests and the steering wheel.

Value added additions in hardware include the fitment of an updated infotainment system featuring a larger eight-inch screen, up from seven-inch in the Black edition. Nissan has also added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the mix for a premium-connected experience.

The Alliance (Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi) in-vehicle infotainment system (AIVI) is a great unit with pain-free pairing of devices, easily navigable menus and inbuilt satellite navigation. The audio sound quality was also exceptionally good.

The eight-inch screen provided an increased viewing area for the reverse camera and 360-degree, overhead displays. Picture quality was better than a lot I have experienced especially when manoeuvring in the dark.

Dual-zone, climate-control air conditioning, with rear-seat passenger air vents, combined with rear privacy tint kept the cockpit temperature at a comfortable level.

A power outlet in the dash-top vestibule is well positioned to power up dash cams or other windscreen-mounted devices. A USB and aux socket were also positioned in the lower-centre dash facia, but none were available to the rear-seat occupants.

The N-Trek’s mechanicals and driveline remain unchanged from the ST-X platform. Retained is the 2.3-litre, bi-turbo engine producing 140 kW of power and a healthy 450 Nm of torque.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard fare, with our test model fitted with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The auto performed well with buttery-smooth transitions between ratios under normal driving conditions.

The power delivery and gear progression were almost unnoticeable when driving moderately, the immediate availability of torque low in the rev range upon engaging the next gear disguised the fact that a change had actually been made. If I was to have a complaint, it would be that an economy mode is not available.

Moderate throttle inputs with the aim of increasing speed just slightly often initiated a downshift, seeing the tacho climbing higher into the scale than I deemed necessary. I don’t feel the engine needed to rev this hard to provide a small increase in speed. If an “eco” mode was available, the down-speeding of the engine could draw on its plentiful low-down torque provided by the two turbos, with what surely would yield dividends in the fuel economy stakes. A “sport” auto mode is of course available which provides a means of driving in a livelier fashion.

The end of our week of driving the N-Trek showed a fuel economy figure of 8.6 litres/100 km, which I believe could be improved upon with the addition of an eco-mode programme.

The coil-over shock front and coil spring, five-link rear suspension design provided a firm ride with predictable mannerisms, although the rear end had a bit of flightiness about it on poor surfaces when unladen. This in turn impacted on the steering, requiring a small amount of correction.

The shift on the fly 4X4 system engaged decisively and the standard rear diff’ lock put the padlock on unnecessary wheel spin, for confidence in slippery conditions.

The N-Trek’s boots are clearly aimed at highway duties with highway terrain Toyo  Open Country 255/60/18 tyres. Personally, the all-terrain tyres fitted to the Black Edition model, may have been a better option.

I still feel, as I did with the Black Edition, that a bit of outward offset to the wheels and a slightly larger diameter would better fill out those bold wheel arch flares and inject an extra dose of testosterone. Those sharing the same view should look closely at the N-Trek Warrior.

Safety appointments from the N-Trek are a bit of a mixed bag. Seven airbags, vehicle dynamic control with hill-start assist, hill-descent control, reverse camera and parking sensors, culminate to score a five-star ANCAP rating. However, the Nissan misses out on blind-spot monitoring (BSM), active-emergency braking (AEB), adaptive-cruise control (ACC) and still retains drum braking technology on its rear axle. With these features becoming more commonly available and standard fare on the like of SsangYong’s Musso and the LDV T60, keeping up with the “Jones’s” may require some further consideration from Nissan.

Priced from $56,450 (MRSP) for the six-speed manual and $58,950 (MRSP) for the auto as tested, the N-Trek is certainly a quality option offering an unlimited kilometre, five-year warranty. The imminent release of the N-Trek ‘Warrior” in December will make for an interesting comparison of the price differences between the two models.

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