Nissan wants to whip up more excitement about its underappreciated Navara. To that end, the brand has beefed up the visual appeal of its bakkie with special-edition Stealth derivatives. Ernest Page reports from the Free State.
The Navara is ranked around 10th on the national monthly sales charts for bakkies, which leaves room for improvement. However, Nissan is working around the clock to figure out ways to bolster sales of its thoroughly modern take on the South African leisure bakkie. One way forward is for the next generation Navara to be built locally, at the Japanese firm's Rosslyn factory. This means more jobs, and hopefully, more sales too.
But until then, Nissan has spruced up the Navara range with the Navara Stealth special edition, which is available in 4x2 and 4x4 guises (manual and auto). Unlike other special-edition bakkies, this one isn’t limited by the numbers of units that will be produced – it is permanently available as an optional extra-cost upgrade. I was invited for a surprise-filled visit to the Free-State to sample this, the newest addition to the Nissan stable.
It should be easy to spot the new Stealth Navara on the road...
Upon arrival at Lanseria, we were greeted by a fleet of Datsun Gos. These cars are usually reserved for inner-city driving, but for our journey, we would use the Japanese hatchbacks to travel south, towards the town of Orkney, which is 3 hours' drive from the airport. For this trip, the Datsun and Nissan brands would put their close relationship on display. Nissan was, of course, known as Datsun previously, and although the Datsun brand is now associated with a range of entry-level models, there is a rich history that connects the two marques. Time to enjoy some Japanese heritage...
A quick visit to NAMPO
Our first stop was NAMPO, the biggest exhibition of farm equipment this side of the equator. The sheer scale of the event and the variety of machinery on display was simply mind-blowing. Think of it as Autosport International, but for tractors and farm gear. Before we got to drive the new Stealth, we saw it on display and of course, it attracted lots of onlookers and potential buyers at the show. It fits in perfectly alongside other new bakkies such as the Hilux Raider 50, and Ford Raptor, all of which are vying for the attention of outdoor enthusiasts looking to upgrade their rides.
The Stealth comes in 2 colours: white and black and gunmetal.
After walking about 11 000 steps around NAMPO, it was time to visit the Datsun museum just outside Orkney, where I got up close and personal with every type of GTR and ZX model I could think of. This museum has more than 200 of the world’s rarest Datsuns on display. After driving 3 older Datsuns, including a Stanza SSS and a rare 280 ZX coupe, it was time to drive something much more modern: the new Navara Stealth.
Special, not Limited
Unlike other special-edition bakkies, Nissan isn’t trying to entice buyers by limiting the number of Stealth units that it will produce. Instead, new owners can simply finance the extra R12 000 on top of their new bakkie and not really feel the pinch when it’s time to pay those instalments. On the road, the Stealth drives just like any other Navara; there are no changes under its sheet metal. The interior is comfortable, with heated seats and Navara’s handy 360-degree surround-view camera setup. The latter was put to good use in the surprisingly tight parking bays at our overnight spot.
Other than the styling additions, the underpinnings remain identical.
Just like in the standard Navara, the Stealth's powered by a 140 kW, 450 Nm 2.3-litre turbodiesel engine mated with a smooth-shifting 7-speed automatic transmission. When unladen, the bakkie did tend to skip and hop a tad on the bumpy Free-state roads, even with its acclaimed 5-link rear suspension. But, as with most bakkies, the Navara drives much better when half- or fully-loaded. The front seats are particularly comfortable, and we easily covered hundreds of kilometres without experiencing much in the way of discomfort or driver/occupant fatigue.
The Stealth pack increases the price of a standard Navara by R12k.
The Stealth is based on the Navara Luxury Edition (LE), and for your money, you get piano black detailing with orange accents on the grille, bumper and side mirrors. The biggest change is the imposing rear roll-bar and wheels, which are colour-matched with the black grille. There were 3 colour finishes available on the day (white, black and gunmetal) and although I hastily chose the white bakkie for photos, I felt pangs of envy every time a gunmetal grey Stealth whizzed by. The package is very pleasing in the metal. The interior also has orange detailing on the seats and side bolsters.
The Navara has been on the market for 2 years and this upgrade effectively adds more derivatives to the range. Those who prefer the original look need not fear, the rest of the line-up is unchanged. If you are looking for a “stealthy” approach to "bakkie’ing", however, consider the Navara Stealth.
The Navara Stealth is sold with a 3-year/90 000 km service plan, plus a class-leading 6-year/150 000 km warranty with Nissan Assured.
Pricing (includes VAT)
NAVARA 2.3D STEALTH 4X2 DC - R582 200
NAVARA 2.3D STEALTH 4X2 AT DC - R599 900
NAVARA 2.3D STEALTH 4X4 AT DC - R659 900
NAVARA 2.3D LE 4X4 AT DC + Leather- R647 500