On the road

First drives: Nissan N-TREK Warrior

With dual-cab utes among the most popular sellers in the Australian market, manufacturers continue to look for niches to broaden appeal. The latest is a series of premium models offering powerful road presence and superior off-road performance. Not wanting to miss out on the action, Nissan Australia has launched the Navara N-TREK Warrior.

The N-TREK model features a sticker pack and upgrades including guard flares, alloy sports bar, side steps, and a whole host of blackout and orange accent treatment. Adding the Warrior option is when things start to get serious, with changes going more than skin deep.

The Warrior’s ride height is the first and most obvious change, increasing by 40mm thanks to changes in suspension and the wheel and tyre combination.

The Navara is the only dual-cab to be fitted with coil-spring rear suspension, allowing considerably more flexibility for suspension upgrades. Passenger comfort, both on and off road, has improved with the softening of primary spring rates, which  also provide enhanced suspension articulation for better off-road performance. Secondary spring rates have increased to ensure carrying maximum loads and towing are unaffected.

Shock absorbers have been upgraded to provide added compression damping for quicker response. The outer tube diameter is larger, with greater oil volume to improve cooling and rough-road capability, while the piston rod diameter is larger for more strength.

 

The result? The best riding Navara on and off-road I’ve driven by a long way.

 

Other features include longer springs taking the larger wheel and tyre combination further away from the body. The inner front guards have been modified in combination with the body-colour front bumper, which incorporates a bull bar to provide the appropriate clearance.

The Warrior model also comes with a 3mm stainless steel front underbody protection plate and a 470mm front LED light bar. Although there are comprehensive suspension upgrades, the Warrior doesn’t get any driveline improvements, so it makes do with its 140kW 450Nm 2.3L twin turbo diesel mated to a seven-speed auto.

I couldn’t have a vehicle with this level of off-road capability without taking it into its natural habitat. I set off to explore the hills behind Margate the day after southern Tasmania experienced 50mm of rain. Initially, I switched to high-range 4WD and climbed through ruts and rocks with no issues. I soon experienced some significant water crossings. Taking no chances, I clicked in low range and proceeded with some caution. I knew the track base was solid through these crossings, which was useful as the Warrior was right on its 600mm maximum wading depth. I climbed out of the last water crossing to be confronted with mud ruts, so it was time to lock in the electric rear diff’ lock.

 

Testing out the Nissan N-TREK Warrior
The N-TREK Warrior in its natural habitat.
Nissan N-TREK Warrior
4WDriving in Margate.

 

The Warrior made its way through the mud with some challenges, but I never feared I’d be stuck. As I picked through the tracks for the next 30 minutes, I bottomed out a couple of times but found comfort in the knowledge that all the important parts underneath were protected. I met another 4WDriver on the way out who was surprised I had a new 4WD out in these conditions, but impressed I had a ‘standard’ vehicle that had such capability.

I’ve tested plenty of 4WD vehicles on those tracks, but none in those conditions. I can guarantee some of them wouldn’t have made it out.

The standard fitment tow bar is a bespoke unit for the Warrior. This compensates for the increase in overall ride height, while still allowing a full-size alloy spare. I took advantage of the towbar and hauled a 2.2 tonne trailer and car up and back on the Midland Highway. The Warrior proved itself well, easily holding the national highway limit and only fading around 10km/h on the steeper inclines. While my load was well short of the 3500kg capacity, there was plenty left in reserve to manage the additional weight if needed.

Inside, Warrior isn’t short of creature comforts; keyless entry and starting, heated partial leather seats, 8” infotainment with all the usual connectivity and around-view monitor are all included. I did, however, find it difficult to find that ultimate driving position as the seats were a little flat, and I did miss reach-adjustment on the steering wheel. However, after driving more than 300km in a day I didn’t find it uncomfortable.

At a little over $67,000 drive away the Nissan Navara N-TREK Warrior auto isn’t cheap. However, if it’s road presence and off-road capability you’re seeking, it ticks these boxes.

 

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