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Nissan improves pickup ride in Navara

New European pickup may herald chassis changes for mid-sized Frontier

Published: November 11, 2015, 4:00 AM
Updated: April 29, 2018, 1:29 PM

Nissan NP300 Navara

Nissan is getting ready to unveil a new Frontier mid-sized pickup, probably at an auto show in 2016, and took a big step toward with the release of information on the chassis of the new NP300 Navara for Europe.

Nissan NP300 Navara chassis

Frontier has shared much of its history with Navara and NP300 (the truck is named differently in different regions), and a new Navara (designated D23) has been introduced for Europe. North American sources have come out to say the D23 is not indicative of the upcoming Frontier for North America (built in Mississippi), which is designated D40 and due for its own debut in 2016.

Still, the new NP300 Navara due to go on sale in the UK early in 2016 bears a look, as Nissan is touting it as the segment’s most comfortable pickup ever, with a new independent 5-link rear suspension that reportedly offers crossover-quality ride and refinement.

“Right from the very start of the development process we knew we had to raise the bar in the pick-up sector and set a new benchmark for quality and comfort,” said James Oliver, Category Manager, LCV at Nissan Motor (GB) Ltd. “The all-new NP300 Navara was always going to incorporate our latest design language and look like a Nissan so it had to drive like a Nissan too. We’re delighted with the results and believe it offers class-leading levels of comfort and refinement for driver and occupants as well as exceptional all-round performance and capability.”

Nissan NP300 Navara rear suspension

The new multi-link rear suspension is not only a departure from its rivals (which all continue with the combination of rigid rear axle located by leaf springs) but also a coup for the pickup market that believes an independent rear suspension compromises a trucks working ability.

Found in the double-cab (crew cab) versions of Navara, the new suspension layout lightens vehicle weight by 20 kg from the present model and offers vastly improved ride, especially when the pickup bed is empty. Theoretically, it should also provide superior off-road driving dynamics. Yet it maintains the traditional truck ladder frame and carries a 1-tonne payload capacity and 3500 kg tow rating across its entire range. That’s better payload with the same tow rating as the current North American Frontier King Cab (extended cab) with a four-cylinder engine.

On that note, a project Frontier was shown at the 2014 Chicago Auto Show. Its most notable feature was a 2.8-litre four-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel engine Nissan said could point to a new available engine for a future Frontier, dependent on customer feedback. Making about 200 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, it would provide towability akin to the current V6 Frontiers, with 35% better fuel economy.