Nissan Navara ST-X 2008 Review

November 30th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham


WC Fields once said “Never work with children or animals”. Fields was an actor, and never (as far as we know) drove a ute on a farm for the purposes of a photoshoot (despite his rather coincidental surname).

His prophetic words echoed in my head as three farm dogs were loaded onto the back of the Nissan Navara ST-X. It was the dogs, two pregnant horses and a decaying earthmover 50m up the paddock that I was interested in. Conveniently all located on the Matakana farm of a friend-of-a-friend, I was there for a ‘relaxing’ weekend of intensive, blister-splitting drum workshops, so I had to get on with it because time was limited.

Animals know this. They have a sixth sense when it comes to foiling the best-laid human plans — like the cat that conveniently disappears when you need to take it to the cattery so you can catch your flight, the dogs would not stay on the back of the ute. Try as I might to get said canines, aforementioned pregnant mares, and the rusting machine in the same frame, the dogs had other ideas.

Fortunately the Navara is more reliable and controllable than 12 legs of barking belligerence. Ours featured a king cab (suicide doors provide access to the rear fold-down seats) and a flat deck, though it comes in other configurations, such as double cab wellside. A towbar comes as standard. Three engines are available — a 198kW 4-litre V6 petrol or 128kW 2.5-litre turbo diesel on the 4×4 models, and a 106kW turbo diesel on the 4×2 model, mated to a six-speed manual or five-speed auto. Our 4×4 auto drove very much like a car, though low speed tight corners in the wet resulted in some occasionally lairy moments with the unladen tray. Blame that on a very healthy 403Nm of torque — useful for towing up to 3000kg in a braked trailer. Luckily there’s ABS to assist the stopping, backed up with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, and even a couple of airbags (something you don’t get in the lower specification DX).

The Navara is a big car — 5220mm long and 1850 wide, excluding the mirrors. This leads to a fairly large turning circle of 13.3 metres. Ground clearance on the king cab is not as good as the double cab –  at 205mm it gives up 30mm — but  the angle of approach is 32 degrees (compared to 29) and angle of departure almost 30 degrees (compared to 22). And, the flat deck has a much better load size capacity than the wellside, with a significantly larger tray (600mm longer and 240mm wider), though it loses 100kg against the wellside version in the weight it can carry (820kg as opposed to 920kg in the king cab variant).

For a two-tonne ute, the fuel economy is ok, but not stellar — Nissan quotes 10.5l/100km with the auto; 9.8l/100km with the manual.

The hour’s drive to Matakana might well have been made in a car, with the Navara eating up the motorway miles like a mid-sized sedan, albeit one that allows you to see over the traffic in front of you while carrying seven bales of hay. Compared to the DX we tested a couple of months ago, the ride is more refined, and the interior is, too. In the back there’s a couple of fold-down seats — you wouldn’t want to ride on them for long, though. The fit-out other than that is very car-like, even getting a reasonable quality stereo, cruise control, power mirrors and a leather steering wheel. Externally, you’ll see 16-inch alloys, colour-coded mirrors, a towbar, side runners and side steps as standard.

Eventually, threats and shouting by the dogs’ owner saw them take up a relaxed position in the ute’s tray, but the horses had moved on to greener pastures. The digger sat there impassively. So, I didn’t get the shot — it had to be all separate. WC Fields was right — imagine what a nightmare it would have been if I had had to get three children on the back!

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications for the Nissan Navara ST-X

Price: from $45,000; as tested $51,900

What we like

  • Excellent towing
  • Drives like a car

What we don’t like

  • Be careful in the wet with an empty tray in 2WD mode
  • Toyota Hilux is more stylish

Nissan Navara ST-X (2008) – Specifications


2.5 litre intercooled turbo diesel, DOHC
Displacement (cc)  2488
Bore x Stroke (mm) 89 x 100
Compression ratio 16.5:1
Max power (kW @ rpm) [email protected]
Max torque (Nm @ rpm) [email protected]


5 speed auto
Transfer case — Dual range 4×4 w/ electric 4WD selection

Rated Towing Capacity

Trailer with brakes (kg) 3000
Trailer without brakes (kg) 750
Gross front axle (kg) 1365
Gross rear axle (kg) 1720


Fuel type — diesel
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 80
Fuel economy (manual)  9.8
Fuel economy (auto)  10.5
C02 Emission LTNZ Standard (g/km)   Manual  235 Automatic 248
Emission Comp. Std Euro 4
Fuel Consumption to ADR 81/01


ABS brakes with BA & EBD
Front suspension — independent, double wishbone with coil over shock
Rear suspension — rigid axle with leaf spring
Rack and pinion power assisted steering
Limited Slip Differential


16×7 JJ alloy wheels with 255/7OR16 tyres
17×7 JJ alloy wheels with 255/65R17 tyres
Steel spare wheel

Words and photos Darren Cottingham

Subaru diesels arriving in NZ soon

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Subaru Legacy Sedan

Subaru is launching its first diesel engined cars, the Legacy 2.0D Euro and Outback 2.0D Euro, on the New Zealand market before Christmas. The efficient Boxer Diesel powered cars are two litre turbocharged and offer 110 kWs of power  and 350 Nm of torque.

With fuel consumption as low as 5.6 litres/100 kilometres (EC combined cycle measurement) — 50.4 mpg – and with CO2 emissions of just 148 g/km, the Legacy and Outback Diesel Euros offer advantages in economy while still boasts good prformance. The Legacy Euro sedan will accelerate to 100kmh in 8.7 seconds.

According to LTNZ registration and statistical data, the Legacy 2.0D Euro is the most efficient petrol or diesel AWD or 4WD vehicle available in New Zealand. And the Outback 2.0D Euro is the most efficient petrol or diesel SUV available on the local market. “These diesel engined cars give us entry into an area of the market we have never competed in before,” said Graeme Woodlands, the Managing Director of Subaru of New Zealand. “Diesel is becoming an increasingly important segment with sales growing from just under 10 percent last year to 15 percent of the total market this year.”

Woodlands expects Subaru will have diesel engined Foresters and Imprezas, which have only just been launched in Europe, available here late in 2009.

Both the Legacy and Outback are available with a five speed manual gearbox. The Euro designation reflects these models launch in Europe earlier this year, where diesel engined cars make up to 50 percent of all sales. As a result these diesel engined Subarus arrive in New Zealand with added specifications. Standard equipment includes heated front seats and a front windscreen de-icer which are sure to be a bonus in the colder regions of the country during the winter. The indicator/lights and wiper stalks are on the opposite side of the steering column to usual, reflecting their European specification.

The Legacy Diesel Euro sedan will sell for $41,490, the Legacy Diesel wagon for $42,990 and the Outback Diesel Euro for $44,990.  The three new diesel models have a price premium of $3,000 over the comparable base petrol model.

The all aluminum engine has been designed from the ground up by Subaru engineers. It is the first time a passenger car has been equipped with a boxer diesel engine. The maximum power of 110 kWs is at 3600 rpm, although the motor will rev to over 4500 rpm. The maximum torque of 350 Nm is achieved at 1800 rpm, for greater flexibility. Like any Subaru, these diesel engine models have All Wheel Drive with a symmetrical drive train.

Standard equipment includes heated front seats, power driver’s seat, electric power steering, telescopic steering column, 6 stack CD, MP3 audio input jack, cruise control, leather covered steering wheel, gear lever and handbrake, power windows and mirrors, climate air conditioning, trip computer and 60/40 split folding rear seats. There is a dual exhaust system, automatic headlights off, 17-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights, a roof spoiler and roof rails on the Legacy and Outback Wagons.

The diesel engined Subarus are expected in dealer showrooms in mid-December.

Kia unveils its Green Car technology

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Kia Borrego FCEV 1_2

Kia has announced its intentions to be the first to bring a zero-emissions ‘Green’ car into mass production with the unveiling of a new fuel cell concept vehicle. The new technology is being showcased in a special version of the Kia Borrego, the large V8-powered SUV model introduced by the Korean car company earlier this year.

Kia Motors has been making attempts at fuel cell technology for a number of years and already has a number of trial vehicles being tested in Korea and the United States using earlier versions of the technology, which still have a limited range and lifespan. The next goal for Kia is to increase the effective range and build a fuel cell that can perform at peak power for up to ten years (early versions drop off in performance after three years).

The Borrego FCEV (Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle), features numerous innovations including a higher output 154 horsepower fuel cell and a new 450-volt Supercapacitor to give the vehicle higher performance, a greatly extended driving range and cold-weather starting capability to operate in sub-zero temperatures.

Available with two and three hydrogen tank systems with 70MPa pressure, the Borrego FCEV’s power plant is located under the center floor. The hydrogen is converted into electricity to drive an electric motor and the only emission is water vapour.

The fuel cell propels the vehicle to a top speed of 161km/h while boasting system efficiency of 62%. With a 202-litre hydrogen storage tank located underneath the cabin and ahead of the rear wheels, this latest Kia Motors research vehicle has a range of around 685km, which is better than most petrol cars and equal to, say, a diesel 1-tonne ute.

“Kia is entering an exciting phase of fuel cell development,” says Todd McDonald, General Manager of Kia Motors New Zealand.

“I have been privileged to see and experience earlier versions of Kia fuel cell-powered vehicles in Korea and they were very impressive, but the new development appears to be much closer to a production model. It would be fantastic to see vehicles like this on New Zealand roads, supporting our own clean and green image.”

Kia has said that it is aiming to have a fuel cell vehicle in production for sale to consumers as early as 2011.

BMW switching to turbo power for M cars

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

BMW’s staunch resistance against turbocharged engines in its M-Spec cars has finally ended. After two decades of normally-aspirated high-revving engines doing the hard yards, BMW s changing direction and will begin to offer direct-injection turbocharged powerplants in its future high-performance flagships. The German automaker is citing the tough environmental emission standards and the soaring manufacturing costs of the specialty-built V8 and V10 engines found in today’s M3, M5, and M6 models for its decision. Competitors Audi and Mercedes-Benz have been successfully offering forced-induction motors for years on their performance models, which may have played a factor in BMW’s decision. The first new model to carry the turbocharged honour will be the X6 xDrive M, with a twin-turbo 4.4-litre V8 reportedly making 500 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. That same engine is reportedly going into the next M5 due in late 2010.

Heffner Performance creates crazy-fast Ford GT

November 28th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Hefner Ford GT fq

Jason Heffner has become famous for his go-fast creations over the past few years, from his insanely powerful Lamborghini Gallardos to mindblowingly fast Ford GTs. For his latest project, Heffner has teamed up with Ford GT chief designer Camilo Pardo for a special edition version of the car that looks great and goes hard too.

Visually, the American supercar gets a new paint scheme and racing graphics, flat black BBS wheels and a replacement rear bumper. Interior, the car gets a chrome shift ball, with a wide-shifter. Under the bonnet, the GT is receives the full twin-turbo treatment as well as a Camilo-designed billet aluminum intake and black valve covers. The special Ford GT puts out over 900hp and is capable of topping 320 kph in under 20 seconds. With razor sharp looks and devastating pace this will be one coveted after Ford GT.

Holden Colorado – will Obama make this more attractive?

November 27th, 2008 by darren

Here’s a contentious issue: George W. Bush. People (in general) on this side of the world have no respect for him, and that often translates into no respect for America as a country. So, Holden commits a possible faux pas in marketing by launching the Colorado (currently sitting in the Car and SUV garage) – named after a state in America.

Colorado doesn’t perhaps have the same connotations as calling something Texas, Los Angeles or New York. It reminds me of South Park and crisp mountain air, and not pointless wars in the Middle East. Perhaps it’s how you position it? In the name of science I asked a few random people one of two questions. In the name of achieving a slightly less statistically irrelevant result half of the people got question 1, and the other half got question 2:

1: Here’s the Holden Colorado – if you were after a ute, do you think you’d consider it?

2: Here’s the Holden Colorado – if you were after a ute, would you consider buying something named after an American state seeing as America is a greed-ridden warmonger?

OK, the questions might have been a tad leading, but my findings were that people weren’t sensitive to the American name unless it was pointed out. Which it probably never will be.

But, now that Obama is on the cusp of power, he will paint the White House black, put some funky coolness back into America and other manufacturers will be cursing Holden’s foresight. We’ll no longer have the Mitsubishi iCar, but the Mitsubishi Iowa. Yee haw.

VW Microcar on the fast-track to production VW Microcar on the fast-track to production

November 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

VW Up! concept fq

Microcars have become extremely popular recently and many motor industry insiders are predicting that the microcar category will only pick up more steam. Manufacturers are not blind to this trend with the Smart Car brand leading the way, BMW is working hard on a city-spec Isetta revival, Toyota has responded with its diminutive iQ and VW went small with its Up! concept car. But Volkswagen has got even smaller ideas in the works and is working on a ultra tiny city car to slot in below its already miniture Up! model.

Power for the new city car will come from either a 1.2L four cylinder or even a three cylinder powerplant. The future engine is expected to feature cylinder cut-off technology so it can operate on just half of its allotment of pistons when full power isn’t necessary. All of that adds up to an estimated 1.5l/100km. VW is also looking at an electric drivetrain.

Current rumours indicate that the German automaker has given this new model priority status, working to get the car on roads by 2011. Labelled at this stage as the VW Chico. the mini motor will hopefully get a new name come launch time.

ABT tunes up Audi Q5

November 27th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

ABT audi Q5 fq

When the engineers and designers at ABT Sportsline tune an SUV, you can be sure that the result will go fast and look mean. ABT have worked on the Touareg, AS7 and Tiguan – and that’s now continued with the new ABT Q5.

The ABT Q5 is dressed up with a new front skirt with the integrated under-ride protection finding its equivalent in the rear skirt, which also hides the extendable tow bar. The front grille, the fender extensions and the dynamic door strip attachments form a full replacement unit. The higher rear wing, a 4-pipe-rear muffler and the 20 inch BR wheel round off the new look.

An ABT upgrade always includes more power, especially when all four wheels are powered. The two diesel engines variants both receive treatment with the 2.0 TDI delivering a  potent 190hp (140kW) instead of 170hp (125kW). The 3.0 TDI delivers the most powerful performance for the ABT Q5: with 310hp or 228kW instead of 240hp/177kW. Particularly impressive is its maximum torque of 610Nm.

Suspension and brakes have had a rework too with new suspension springs, lowering of the car’s center of gravity and the ABT Level Control, an electronic lowering for the CDC air suspension (Continous Damping Control). Helping deceleration is the ABT sports brake system with big 380mm brake discs packing in behind the 20 inch rims.

The ABT Q5 is going to be available in Europe from early 2009.

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