Nissan ups the ante in the 4×4 twincab pick-up truck segment with the imposing Navara + Virtual Mod

Published on August 11th, 2009

Apart from offroaders, 4×4 and offroad enthusiasts, as well as contractors, it is puzzling as to why anyone, especially urban dwellers whose contact and exposure to the great outdoors has mostly been from their living room through the idiot box, might want to own and drive a twincab pick-up truck with offroad capability daily in the urban jungle.


4×4 twincab pick-up trucks have always been looked at and perceived to be a workhorse, or a machine for those who crave for and undertake extreme adventures through extreme conditions. These are vehicles that were built to be tough and robust for use both on and off the road.

Edaran Tan Chong Motor (ETCM), the franchise holder for Nissan vehicles in Malaysia, has proudly announced the Navara as a premium 4×4 twincab pick-up truck, even going the distance by nicknaming the Navara as a ‘Mothertrucker’, an obvious reference to its huge size and the fact that the Navara is the most powerful 4×4 twincab pick-up truck in the market at the moment.


In our humble opinion, if the Navara were to be premium and luxurious, we’d be expecting it to be equipped with a host of accessories, gadgets and luxuries such as cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth connectivity, a voice-activated mobile phone adaptor or plug in and satellite navigation. Leather seats and door panels, thick floor mats, and High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlights are not enough by my standards for a vehicle to successfully attain the envious premium tag, as it is at the end of the day, the Navara’s rear underbelly is still sports leaf springs, such as one would find on any other 4×4 twincab pick-up truck.


Although the spacious cabin is lavished with thick and bump absorbing plush leather seats, for some its ride can still be considered stiff and hard like most other 4×4 twincab pick-up trucks available on the market, the difference is that it is slightly more comfortable than its competitors, while being all the more luxurious thanks the leather upholstery inside.

The Navara has a simple, upright dashboard complete with a centre console that houses well-laid out controls. Most people will be able to make themselves comfortable thanks to the good driver’s seat adjustment, but cramps can set in especially on long journeys for the passengers sitting at the second row of seats because the rear seats can’t be reclined, an inherent cabin design and space limitation where 4×4 twincab pick-up trucks are concerned.


Over short distances though, the second row seating was quite comfortable in the Navara when compared to other pickups. From a driver’s perspective, things would be improved if the steering wheel moved in and out as well as it can go up and down.

The Navara’s road manners fall slightly short of being the best in the 4×4 twincab pick-up truck segment, but it is a big improvement over its predecessors nonetheless. While the ride is rather fidgety, body movements are minimal and the steering is accurate enough considering its sheer size and length, albeit it is somewhat short on feel. An easy turn of a switch enables the four-wheel-drive system to be engaged when needed or necessary, and the low-ratio transfer box provides it with proper off-road capability. The Navara has a decent steering and provides for a firm and stable ride. It handles more like a big car rather than a conventional pick-up truck.


Navara buyers in Malaysia are only offered one engine choice, and this 172hp 2.5-litre unit is the most powerful diesel in the pick-up truck segment. The Navara’s powerful force-fed induction direct injection diesel engine is very torquey, not surprising, torque is one of its strengths and highlights. On-road performance is both powerful and strong, and there’s more than enough muscle and grunt for it to easily cope hauling heavy loads or powering up steep and slippery slopes, in which case the only issue would be traction and the use of the correct type or set of tyres.

In Malaysia, the Navara is available only with an automatic transmission, although the six-speed manual that is offered for the Navara in other countries would be a much better option if it were made available here as well. Being the most powerful 4×4 twincab pick-up truck, it is not quiet, the diesel clatter from under the bonnet is still audible from within the cabin, although to be fair, such a sound is expected from a diesel powered vehicle. Being a diesel, albeit a modern one, the engine does sound coarse until it is warmed, and there’s a roughness to its diesel clatter when accelerating hard. However, this disappears into the background once up to speed, and the rather smooth automatic transmission helps to keep things quiet up until the speed limit is easily surpassed. Road roar intrusion into the cabin is rather minimal, although the Navara’s boxy shape will inevitably bring about wind noise at higher speeds.


One of the Navara’s drawbacks is its sheer size. The Navara is big, it is huge. It does not look as big as it really is because it sits rather low for a 4×4 twincab pick-up truck. Parking this ‘Mothertrucker’, especially in a shopping complex, hypermarket, or office building carpark is no easy feat, it requires the driver to list such skills as patience, sharpness and good judgement and estimation as distinctions in successfully obtaining a driving license. If one is prepared to live with such a drawback, and really wants a pick-up truck for work or to make some kind of unique statement, then the Navara will serve well and not disappoint. ETCM imports the Navara into Malaysia, and being a Nissan, it is most certainly mechanically bulletproof, and the easy-to-use-with-just-the-simple-switch-of-a-button four-wheel-drive system means that it is not only imposing, fast, tough, and robust, it is also versatile and easy to operate.

Another bragging rights that belongs to the Navara is its biggest in its class cargo bed, which comes with clever mounting points to safely ensure items, things and cargo carried can be strapped down and transported without hassle or problems. Practicality is another one of the Navara’s assets, albeit an unknown one, as it has a braked towing capacity of 3000kg, which makes it good for towing and also moving slightly larger than usual, heavy cargo.


The Navara’s strong and powerful engine, and large cargo bed are its key attributes. Another attribute would be the fact that its sizeable twincab cabin can accommodate and comfortably seat five adults with ease.With its flared wheel archers, the Navara has a real tough-truck air to it. It’s easily the pick of the lot for those wanting a 4×4 twincab pick-up truck that stands out from the rest of the field.

The Navara is the opposite of cheap and affordable, as its price puts it as the most expensive 4×4 twincab pick-up truck currently available in the market, but a test-drive of the Navara at any one of ETCM’s or its dealers showrooms across the country will prove it’s worth the extra couple of thousand ringgit over its competitors, and though paying a premium, this diesel should be able to hold its value in the long run.

text: Azdee Amir  pix: Syawal Ahmad & Dinesh Appavu  Virtual Mod: Jeo and Am

Tech Spec:

Engine: 2488cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel

Power: [email protected]

Torque: 297lb [email protected]

Transmission: Only available in Automatic transmission

Acceleration: 0-100kmh: 11.4seconds

Top speed: 189kmh

Price: RM108500.00 (Private Registration with Insurance)

Rating: 4/5

Verdict:: Thoroughly deserves the ‘Mothertrucker’ tag

Virtual Mods





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