The testers at Fleet News attend launches of new vehicles every week – but this has to be a first.
The Nissan NP300 truck, which has just gone on sale, is in fact a reincarnation of the old Navara that was replaced back in 2005, rising again like a phoenix from the ashes.
The newer Navara has been a fantastic success for the Japanese firm.
It was a quantum leap forward from the old model in terms of power, ride and handling.
It was also named as Best Working Vehicle at the 2008 Fleet News Awards.
But amid all the razzle dazzle of this burgeoning part of the fleet market, it’s all too easy to forget that a sizeable proportion of buyers aren’t interested in leather seats, Bluetooth capability and MP3 players –- they want a basic, down-to-earth vehicle that’s cheap to run and won’t get stuck in the mud when the going gets tough.
When the new Navara was launched, Nissan continued to sell a low-cost option called the PickUp, which was basically the old-style Navara, but the firm didn’t seem to put too much emphasis on this working-class brother.
Now with a new Euro IV engine under its bonnet and with a new name – the NP300 – the old Navara lives to fight again.
The single cab accommodates three people across a bench seat and is offered with the option of part-time four-wheel drive.
In king cab configuration, the NP300 seats two on individual front seats while providing secure storage space inside the cabin for tools and materials.
A double cab version will arrive later in the year.
Behind the wheel
Climbing aboard the NP300 was rather like stepping back in time to the days when pick-ups were working vehicles rather than style machines for estate agents and accountants.
My first drive was in the four-wheel drive single cab and that curious bench seat looked a right old pain.
I soon found I was wrong – it turned out to be quite firm and supportive with plenty of padding in the lumbar area.
There are precious few storage spaces in the single cab and not a lot of legroom either.
The king cab has a lot more leg space and the storage space behind its seats was handy.
The NP300 fires up with a nice growl and eventually settles down to a meaty thrum when it warms up.
There is certainly no shortage of power – and 224lb-ft of torque makes the NP300 lope along at a quick pace. Nicely-weighted power steering adds to the general driving enjoyment.
It’s cheap, not badly specced, very capable and a practical choice.
However, we’d ignore the 4x2 base model as it lacks four-wheel drive and won’t hold its value like the true mud-pluggers.
We’d also pay extra for the king cab as it offers a lot more secure loadspace.