Double-cab bakkies have become a firm favorite for many South Africans, marrying the practicality of a family car with the utility of a bakkie. While SUVs and crossovers have taken its place as the must-have status symbol, there are still many people who prefer a good double-cab’s go-anywhere-do-anything attitude, a fact that hasn’t escaped the various motor manufacturers. As such most manufacturers not only offer high-specification double-cabs for those who use it as an alternative to a sedan or SUV, but also lower-specced versions for those who use it for work, business or play as well. Nissan has positioned its Navara double-cab as the better specced, lifestyle option and rebadged the much loved Hardbody as the NP300 to address this additional requirement.
The NP300 is identical to the Hardbody and some of its trims still actually use the term “Hardbody”, the roof rails on our white NP300 2.5TDI High-Rider double-cab being a case in point. While the NP300 still has a fairly adventurous lifestyle feel to it, it’s really looking old now – so much so that it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the NP300 from the Hardbody, bar the very small badging at the rear. It’s interior is functional but is again showing its age. Everything you may need to have a relatively comfortable time in it is included, but don’t expect leather and soft touch plastics.
The NP300 is fitted with a 2.5-litre turbodiesel engine that develops 98kW of power and 304Nm, available from 2000 r/min. Acceleration to 100km/h takes a leisurely 14 seconds before reaching its top speed of 160km/h. Fuel consumption is a claimed 10-litres/100km and its carbon emissions 262g/km, which will add an additional R10 650 (excluding VAT) to the purchase price come September. The ride is very firm and the acceleration feels much slower than the claimed time. However, there’s a utilitarian go-anywhere ambiance to it, which probably why it sold so well in Hardbody form when first released.
This Nissan NP300 2.5TDI High-Rider double-cab retails for a mere R288 300, something that’s undoubtedly achieved because it’s been in production for so long. This is, in my opinion, also its downside, as it has much competition from double-cabs that are not only newer, but also more popular. That said, most of them can’t match the NP300 on price, with only the Ford Ranger 2.5TD Hi-Trail DC 4X2 – at R248 090 – achieving this. It only has 80kW of power and 257Nm of torque, is slower to 100km/h, has higher fuel consumption and higher carbon emissions. Its BT-50 sibling, fitted with the same engine and delivering the same power, torque, fuel consumption and carbon emissions but taking even longer to reach 100km/h, is even more expensive, retailing for a whopping R316 350!
This leaves you with a choice between Isuzu’s KB250 D-TEQ LE at R308 600 (less power, less torque, 3.7 seconds slower to 100km/h and lower top speed, but better fuel economy and carbon emissions), Mitsubishi’s Triton 2.5 DI-D at R303 900 (more power and torque, similar acceleration, higher top speed, slightly higher fuel consumption, much higher carbon emissions) and Toyota’s Hilux 2.5 D-4D Raised Body Raider at R309 700 (lowest power output, much lower torque, slower acceleration, lower top speed but with better fuel consumption and carbon emissions).
Also, don’t forget the NP300′s Navara sibling: the 2.5 dCi XE has a more refined engine, more power, much more torque, better acceleration, a higher top speed, similar fuel consumption and slightly higher carbon emissions at R306 900. If brands aren’t that important and price is the main decider, perhaps also consider et GWM Steed 2.8 TCi 4X4 at R218 990. It’s got a bigger engine, but less power, less torque, is the slowest to 100km/h, has the lowest top speed, reasonable fuel consumption and the highest carbon emissions.
The NP300 2.5TDI High-Rider is an excellent value proposition for those who require the do-anything practicality that double-cab bakkies offer. It’s a basic package but really does offer everything you typically need to carry on in relative comfort. If you have a small business or need a practical second vehicle, it’s not a bad proposition. It is however a stripped-down version of an old design and it really is showing its age, so I do think it’s perhaps worth it to fork out a little bit more for either the Mitsubishi Triton or the Nissan Navara, which would be my choice simple for it’s exceptional engine and more up-to-date styling.
- Text & photography: Christo Valentyn