Having a hardtop fitted to our long-term pick-up truck has greatly enhanced its practicality as a lifestyle vehicle, James Dallas reports
During its half-year on our long-term fleet our big Nissan Navara pick-up truck has proven its versatility by competently handling a variety assignments.
At the start of the academic year in September, for example, the Navara was tasked with undertaking the rites of passage journey of carrying my eldest daughter and all her books, baggage and chattels from our home in London to her digs at Leeds University.
Obviously, the Navara’s 1,047kg payload capacity was well able to handle the weight on board and its 1,578mm by 1,560mm load area (shrinking to 1,130mm between the wheel arches) also proved equal to the task.
For jobs such as this the Hardtop Premium cover (£3,300 excluding VAT), which is incorporated into the central locking system, has been invaluable in keeping loads secure and safe from prying eyes – tinted glass in the two side and one tailgate window helps here – and light fingers as well as protecting the interior’s contents from inclement weather.
Hard wearing, corrugated load bed protection (£360) helps guard against damage to the cargo bay’s floor, and lashing points mounted on side running rails means items can be tied firmly in place to prevent them moving about in transit.
The Hardtop is also well-suited to facilitate the sort of leisure activities that the Navara double-cab’s target customers are likely to pursue.
I have found no need to fit an external rack, for example, because there is adequate room inside to stack a couple of bicycles as well as provisions for a weekend away and a dog. On hot days, admittedly a fading memory now, the cover’s windows can be left ajar to let said dog get some air if you stop for a tea break.
With temperatures having plummeted in recent weeks, however, occupants in the front seats of the double-cab have been grateful for the efficiency of the seat heaters, which quickly provide a cosy, enveloping warmth. The heaters can be set to low or high, but I have found they only need to be turned on for a few minutes to provide sufficient comfort.
The in-cab heater, which goes up to 30°C, takes a little longer to banish the chill from the air, but with the Navara’s well-insulated interior, it is no slouch. With its leather seats, steering wheel, handbrake
and gear knob, and eight-way adjustable driver’s seat as well as cruise control and DAB radio issuing from six speakers, the Navara Tekna provides a luxurious environment for long journeys.
A slight gripe is that I have found myself hankering for a seventh manual gear atop the six available as the low-geared set-up does mean the engine tends to sound slightly strained and over-revved at motorway cruising speeds.
On the other hand, the information supplied on the dash next to the speed and rev counter is impressively informative: it can tell you real-time and average mileage, and when you turn off the engine it lets you know both your most economical and average mpg figures for the preceding journey.
Whilst on the road the display can also let you know how long in minutes and hours your journey has taken, which gives you something to look at when you’re stuck in traffic.