8 February 2024

The Warrior: a rare breed among utes

| Paul Gover
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Premcar designed the Nissan Warrior. Photo: Supplied.

Warrior is the code word for goodness and greatness in Nissan showrooms.

It’s also proof that the best of Australian car-making, from engineering development to final finishing, is still alive.

The Warrior models have been created by Premcar – a company which has its roots at Ford Performance Vehicles in the days when the Falcon was still made in Australia – to a simple brief from Nissan Australia.

It wants a series of cars which pick up the pieces used by owners to improve their Nissans, with an all-in package with full engineering work and certification.

The Warrior program began with the Navara pickup and has been expanded into the hulky Patrol, with future plans – still to be confirmed – for an X-Trail family SUV and dreams of perhaps doing something Warrior-like for the Z sports car.

The most popular model is the Warrior PRO 4X, which sits about midfield in today’s pickup world, with a price tag starting at $70,000. It’s not cheap; the Navara is not remotely the class leader as a platform, but the value looks good.

Visual changes to the Warrior are obvious, from a light bar and red bash plate on the nose through to bigger wheels and tyres. It’s all predictable stuff, including the giant PRO 4X stickers on the load tub. What makes the Warrior so good, though, are the things you cannot see. From the get-go, it’s a vehicle which feels solid and composed.

After more than a month of back-to-back pickup testing, that feel is fairly rare. Most work-and-play ‘utes’ feel tippy and unsettled, and when it rains, things get much worse. Premcar has worked to settle the Navara – make the suspension more compliant, but also provide more grip and ‘feel’ when cornering. The result is a pickup which is much more car-like than almost any rival.

There are other good things, from the leather-panelled seats to the excellent LED light bar – although it cannot overcome the failings of the low-beam lamps – which all make the Nissan much more appealing. It’s now enjoyable to drive in all conditions, quieter and more plush, and has the visual impact which many ute buyers want in their work-and-play machines.

But even Premcar cannot overcome some of the basic failings of the Navara, including a steering wheel which does not have enough adjustment for many drivers and steering which is slow, with too many turns between the limits. It’s no easier to park, either.

But those are little things and Premcar and Nissan Australia have worked to create a pickup which is definitely among the best in class.

Nissan Navara Warrior Pro 4X

  • Position: Pickup with an off-road focus
  • Price: From $69,990 drive away
  • Engine: 2.3-litre turbodiesel four cylinder
  • Power: 140kW/450Nm
  • Transmission: 6-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • Plus: The Warrior work
  • Minus: Driving position still not great
  • THE TICK: not a Ranger Raptor, but deeply impressive
  • Score: 8/10

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