Still a hard body

Still a hard body

The Nissan NP300 might be getting on in years, but that hasn’t slowed it down much. GAVIN MYERS recently spent some time with the 2,5 TDi Hi-Rider single cab.

I’m not fond of reviewing vehicles that have been on the market for some time. They’re generally old news and turn out to be outclassed by newer rivals, and I don’t think it makes for particularly exciting or fair reading. The current-generation Nissan NP300 (nee Hardbody) has been on our market since October 2002, so it’s now a decade old.

But the locally-manufactured NP300 continues to sell quite strongly and is itself still a strong vehicle. We had the “K32” model on test, which has the full designation of 2,5 TDi Single Cab Hi-Rider 4×2.

After a decade, the NP300’s styling is getting on a bit, but with its still-bold facade, prominent wheel arches and long load bay, the vehicle remains good looking – especially with the body-coloured bumpers and wheel arches characteristic of Hi-Rider models. The interior, however, is where the vehicle feels older than the competition. The cab feels perceptibly smaller than its younger rivals, with very limited storage options and stowage space behind the seats, while various surfaces around the cabin (even the steering-wheel boss) showed scratches.

Still a hard bodyIn 2008, the range received an upgrade, and the dashboard of the double cab models was fitted, as well as numerous feature enhancements. Our test vehicle was fitted with air-conditioning, ABS brakes, central locking and electric windows (lockable on the passenger side and auto-operation on the driver’s), as well as the optional tow ball, tonneau cover and Blaupunkt MP3 CD radio with auxiliary input. I couldn’t shake off the sense that, upgraded dashboard and utilitarian nature aside, the sliding ventilation controls seem very old fashioned.

At the same time Nissan also introduced the 2,5-litre common-rail diesel engine, that produces 98 kW at 3 600 r/min and 304 Nm of torque at 2 000 r/min. It’s a strong engine with very smooth power delivery, and doesn’t suffer from power dropping-off towards the upper levels of the rev range. It returns claimed fuel consumption figures of 8,0 l/100km from its 75-litre tank. The engine is matched to well-spaced gearing, making general driving and pulling a load an easy affair. The vehicle impressed with its comfortable ride.

Again, perhaps due to its age, load capacity is slightly down on the competition, the load box measuring 2 220 x 1 466 x 428 mm. The payload capacity, however, is a rather impressive 1 094 kg with a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of 2740 kg. Rated gross combination mass (GCM) is 4 140 kg.

In terms of safety, the NP300 range is equipped with collapsible steering columns, side impact protection bars, and integrated front crumple zones. The Hi-Rider single cab is also fitted with dual airbags as standard. Further, the vehicle is covered by a three-year/90 000 km service plan (with roadside assistance) and a three-year/100 000 km warranty included in the purchase price of R256 600. Service intervals are 15 000 km.

I’ve often wondered why Nissan has kept the current NP300 on sale in South Africa for so long, with not a peep about a replacement. It could be that the range still has something to offer – I did enjoy the K32’s company. In the meantime, Nissan has announced that it is gearing up for the local production of a new one-tonne pick-up at its Roslyn plant, which may well be the replacement for the NP300.

We wait with bated breath.

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