27 September 2023

Tough New Nissan To Fight The Ford Raptor

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By Paul Gover.

So, now Nissan is joining the race to the top of the ute world.

Ford got their first with its Ranger Raptor, which sits at the pinnacle for chunkiness and off-road excellence despite threatening efforts led by rivals including Toyota and Holden Special Vehicles.

Nissan is taking a similar track, using the Australian expertise of Premcar – a Melbourne company that was once responsible for Ford Performance Vehicles – to tweak the Navara into a warrior.

The basic Navara was tweaked last year with improved rear suspension and a number of less-important improvements, but the N-Trek Warrior is a big development in everything from its over-sized wheels and tyres to revised suspension and an all-new tow-bar to suit its higher ride. It even has an LED light bar which gives a massive boost to the view after dark and the bullbar is fully compatible with the airbag system.

Development of the Warrior only took a year and it’s been a cost-effective job because the starting price of just on $63,000 undercuts the Raptor by $20,000 and it also comes in below the SportsCat from HSV and the Rugged X from Toyota.

The very special Navara arrives from Thailand as an N-Trek and then gets the upgrade at Premcar before rolling out to an owner.

It’s already selling well as more and more people are spending $60,000 and more on what amounts to a tizzied working-class ute.

The Warrior is one of the better ones and can still tow 3.5 tonnes while doing a much better job in off-road conditions and impressing the neighbours on the road.

Everything about the off-road ability has been improved, from the grip with Cooper tyres and improved clearance, and experts in that area – not me – report that it’s a classy effort.

In less-demanding conditions the Warrior is never threatened and it’s not as loud or brash as I expect on the bitumen.

The twin-turbo diesel is not as powerful as some rivals but it has a slick automatic gearbox and the fuel economy is good.

I’m still disappointed by little things like the single-speaker telephone connection, and the lack of space in the tray, but the overall package is good and the value is excellent.

It’s not my favourite ride for 2020 but it does what it claims and, with so many people spending so much to upgrade and improve their utes these days, the Warrior looks like a worthwhile and cost-effective short-cut with full factory backing and some impressive engineering.

Nissan Navara N-Trek Warrior
Price: from $62,990
Power: 140kW/450Nm
Position: Weekend warrior
Plus: looks tough, good value
Minus: still a ute, can be sluggish

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