New Nissan Navara proves its  mettle in Africa’s tough terrain Last Saturday, local journalists and Nissan dealers joined the Nissan Navara Daring Africa expedition team on a tour of Zimbabwe’s rough terrain in the eastern highlands

Martin Kadzere

Following the success of the NP300 pickup trucks, Nissan’s Navara is proving itself a worthy successor. Launched in 2021, the Navara has maintained high sales figures in Zimbabwe, capturing a significant market share in both single and double-cab options.

The NP300 has been a workhorse, a reliable pickup truck that dominated the market with both its single and double-cab options. So, there was some hesitation when Nissan announced the Navara in 2021 to the market. 

Would it be too expensive?

Would it live up to the legacy of the NP300? 

Those doubts have been quickly squashed. The Navara has proved itself a worthy replacement. It is just as durable as its predecessor, with surprisingly low running costs. Customers are flocking to buy it, and once again, single and double cab sales reached a solid 1 300 units last year, according to official dealers.

But the Navara was not just a rehash of the NP300. Nissan’s engineers spent years understanding the unique challenges of sub-Saharan Africa. They drove thousands of kilometers on unforgiving roads to create a vehicle that could truly handle the terrain.

The suspension, built in South Africa’s Rosslyn plant in Johannesburg, was completely redesigned for exceptional durability. Unlike some European imports, the Navara was not built for smooth motorways; it was built for the severity of African roads. The engine was another innovation. Custom-designed for the sub-Saharan market, it could handle the lower-quality diesel and oil often found in the region. This translated to impressive fuel economy and long mileage.

“When Navara was launched, perhaps, our market was a bit sceptical that it would be a more expensive vehicle, maybe not as strong as the NP300 was, but it has proven to be durable, proven to have low running costs so from a market number point of view Navara, Mr Admire Ndumo, a representative of local Nissan official dealers said.

“When you look at the suspension, the engineers drove most of the sub–Saharan Africa roads to be able to come up with a severity rating for a vehicle which would be able to navigate even rough terrain. 

“The suspension has been redone to ensure that it will be able to last. Perhaps, some of the vehicles that are brought into the country from Europe are made for severity rating in Europe,” Mr Ndumo added.

Last Saturday, a team of local journalists and Nissan dealers joined the Nissan Navara Daring Africa expedition team around 10 am, departing from a location off the Harare-Mutare road towards Nyanga in the Eastern highlands of the country. The journey included a stop at the majestic Mutarazi Falls for a breathtaking view.

The team then continued their journey, tackling challenging terrain on the route to Nyanga.

Despite the sharp inclines and demanding conditions, the Navara’s stability remained impressive.

The experience highlighted the vehicle’s suitability for both work and leisure activities.

The expedition itself began at the Rosslyn plant in Johannesburg, South Africa. After traveling through Mozambique, it arrived in Zimbabwe on Saturday. It departed the country on Tuesday, embarking on the next leg of their adventure that will see them travel through Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, and finally Cairo, Egypt.

The journey through Zimbabwe holds particular significance for Nissan, Mr Linda Mazimhaka, Nissan Africa’s regional general manager told journalists, emphasising the importance of the country’s operations in showcasing the Navara’s strength.

Designed and built specifically for Africa, the Navara had already proven its capabilities during the expedition, he said. It has handled challenging terrains with ease, from Mozambique to Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands. Safety was also a priority.

The Navara comes equipped with six airbags, and the reinforced chassis can withstand the harshest terrain and infrastructure limitations. Vehicle Dynamic Control keeps the truck stable and predictable, giving drivers confidence on any road.

Mr Mazimhaka said the entire expedition would serve as a real-world test of the Nissan Navara’s durability in the face of Africa’s toughest landscapes. Meanwhile, Mr Ndumo, Nissan Clover Leaf Motors’ operations executive, expressed optimism for the year ahead.

Local dealers project sales volumes to reach around 1 500 units for both single and double cabs this year.

Nissan’s discontinuation of the NP300 is expected to boost Navara sales.

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