Nissan Navara ST-X 550 First Drive Review
Sitting at the top of its range, the Nissan Navara D40 ST-X 550 offers plenty of equipment, and an easy-to-use 4WD system, but its performance doesn’t match the numbers, says Isaac Bober.
When the beefed-up looking D40 Navara (styled in Europe, built in Spain) lobbed Down Under in 2005 it made the D22 Navara (styled and built in Japan) look a little on the small side. But Nissan was smart; it continued to sell both flavours of Navara (and still does) side-by-side, giving it the largest slice of the light commercial pie.
Indeed, the Navara is within cooee of the Hilux as the second-best selling light commercial in the country and, with fleet sales taken out of the equation, is the most popular amongst private buyers. And that’s all because it arrived at precisely the time when Aussie tradies were wanting more than just a basic workhorse from their dual-cab ute.
Yep, with its sharp looking design, inside and out, and its off-road ability, the D40 Navara appealed to those looking for a dual-cab that could serve the, and pardon the pun, dual purpose of being a weekday workhorse and weekend warrior. Bigger, more comfortable, and a lot more refined than its D22 sibling, and plenty of its competitors too, the D40 Navara has built up a legion of followers. Available in four trim levels, the D40 Navara can be had as either an entry-level RX (from $39,600 for the dual-cab, cab chassis), ST (from $46,800) or ST-X (from $56,990), or the top-of-the-tree ST-X 550 (from $62,990) which I’m testing here.
Inside, the Nissan Navara ST-X 550 instantly shouts “more luxurious!” than the rest of the range. But, for a staggering $62,900 it would want to. Look past the sat-nav (which is outperformed by the map apps on most smart phones), leather seats, and chrome accents, and the ST-X 550 features the same hard, scratchy plastics as the cheaper models in the range. Still, there’s plenty of room in the front and the back of both variants (the Navara is based on the relatively spacious Pathfinder, don’t forget), and there are plenty of storage spots stashed around the cabin. For more room, the rear bench seat can be folded 60/40, as can the front passenger seat to provide a huge storage area for carrying awkward, and especially long items.
Under the bonnet the ST-X 550 features a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel, producing 170kW and 550Nm from 1750rpm. This is mated to a seven-speed automatic only, while fuel consumption is a claimed 9.5L/100km (and there’s an 80-litre tank).
The ST-X 550 might be the powerhouse of the Navara range, but it’s also quite a bit heavier than the rest of the D40 line-up (weighing in at 2177kg). And, it suffers from nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing, and then everything turbo lag. The seven-speed automatic isn’t much chop either, hunting between gears on hills and out of tight corners. From a driving perspective, it just isn’t quite the sum of its parts. As relatively good as the ST-X 550 is at dealing with larger hits at lower speeds, it’s the smaller imperfections in the road that seem to upset the ride the most (and particularly so in the heavier ST-X 550 – damper fade, maybe). And the shorter front suspension arms mean that off-road the Navara lacks the ability of just about everything else you’d cross-shop it with.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS
The fact is, the Nissan Navara ST-X 550 just isn’t good enough, certainly not for the money, to compete with newer, more capable and safer arrivals, like Volkswagen’s Amarok, Ford’s Ranger and the Mazda BT-50 (these utes all receive a five-star ANCAP rating).