Built On Solid Foundations – the Nissan NP300 [opinion]

A number of years ago, Top Revs took the Nissan NP300 for a solid drive. While the pickup was fairly solid, we couldn’t help but feel that it hasn’t changed enough when compared to previous models to warrant a new price. Well, thinking we were a bit harsh on it, Top Revs gave it another go.

Obviously the design hasn’t changed yet, but to be honest, neither has the Toyota Hilux’s design and that’s selling like hotcakes. Back in 2010 when we first drove the NP300, the old school, slightly retro look somewhat disappointed, but it has aged incredibly well. It’s still the same old design from years back, but today it looks more in place than it did four years ago.

Large bulbous headlights on a stubby front bumper may not look aggressive or cutting edge, but it’s functional without being nausea inducing. The side profile is typical bakkie with large flared wheel arches and straight as a ruler lines. At the rear, it’s again simple, designed to work: tail lights, tail gate, nothing else. If the NP300 were a wardrobe, it’d be a pair of overalls. It’s designed for business, no question about it.

The interior is as utilitarian as the outside. Gadgets are kept to a minimum. You get a CD player, some airbags, ABS, aircon and little else. This means less electronics to go haywire. Some may be disheartened by the lack of extras, but the NP300 was not designed to please your inner nerd. Plenty space on the inside, aircon and low range, that’s all you need when traversing farm roads or playing around on the beach. This also keeps the price low on the NP300. The only issue I have with the interior is the seats. They lack side support and can become quite uncomfortable on long journeys. The seating position is great however and the cabin is relatively quiet for a pick up.

We were fairly impressed by the ride quality four years later and it seems to ride even better. On road it’s firm and well composed. Little body roll and no jittery behaviour one would expect from a bakkie. The steering is light which makes for easier town driving too.

Off road things get even better. The NP300 is fairly tall and has great ground clearance. Any off-road enthusiast worth his mud knows that grip + ground clearance = off road capability. Grip is as simple as replacing tyres, but ground clearance is not as easy. Luckily the NP300 easily clears most obstacles. The addition of low range is a big bonus as well. We took the NP300 into some muddy spots and it made the obstacles look like the Western Bypass. Seriously impressive stuff.

The range compromises of two power plants, a 105kw 2.4 litre petrol motor and a 98kw 2.5 turbo diesel. The turbo diesel provides 304nm of torque to ease towing and carrying loads and is the pick of the bunch. Power delivery is smooth and only tappers off at 3600rpm. Redline is easily reachable and happens fairly quick when not paying attention. While testing, we did not find it necessary to down shift in order to safely over take with the diesel lump providing more than enough grunt.

Four years ago, on these exact pages, I said, and I quote “Time will tell if brand loyalty will make a success of the NP300 as it does not cut it in the crop,” I was wrong, very, very wrong. The NP300 may not have changed for the last decade, but it’s built on solid foundations making it a pretty darn good performer on road and off. Cut through the crud of the ‘luxury’ pickups and the NP300 outperforms them all with ease. I think my humble pie might be done baking…

Source : The Namibian