After teasing its reveal last week, Nissan has taken the wraps off its 2015 NP300 Navara pickup truck set to go on sale later this year in global markets. The 12th generation of this rugged mid-size hauler is thought to offer an early look at what we might see when a recast version of its U.S. cousin, the Nissan Frontier, arrives here at some point in the future. Although Nissan North America has issued no official word regarding our upcoming Frontier, these two trucks have historically shared a good deal of their visual and mechanical makeup, and there's no reason for that to change now.
As might be expected, the new NP300 Navara reflects a major step up from the current model. According to Nissan's Chief Planning Officer, Andy Palmer, the truck "sets new benchmarks for performance, toughness, versatility and running costs; all the qualities that are critical for pickup users." That would be good news for the next Frontier as well, given that it will have to contend with the likes of key rivals that include the segment-dominating Toyota Tacoma and all-new-for-2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon.
V-Motion styling cues
Visually, the NP300 Navara presents a truck-like take on Nissan's latest design language. Signature V-Motion cues up front set off with Nissan's LED-infused "boomerang" lighting elements are complemented by more deeply sculpted body panels, a lower roof height, improved ground clearance and a larger loading area. Depending on market, it will be available in narrow and wide body styles, King Cab and Double Cab configurations, and rear-drive/4WD, the latter with full shift-on-the fly capabilities.
Inside, Nissan's new pickup adds a similar level of people-focused sophistication that includes numerous design elements borrowed from the automaker's latest SUVs. A multifunction steering wheel, high-resolution TFT instrument/navigation displays, upgraded seats and a large center console endow the cabin with more character, convenience and comfort. Beneath the NP300 Navara is an even more rigid and durable frame. A smaller turning circle promises to improve the truck's close-quarters maneuvering and 4-wheel drive versions will bolster the baseline Vehicle Dynamic Control with Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control) and Active Brake Limited Slip functions.
The NP300 Navara will offer a choice of two 2.5-liter/4-cylinder engines, a 2.5-liter gasoline and a 2.5-liter turbodiesel. The latter makes 188 horsepower and 297 lb-ft of torque, and either can be paired with new 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmissions - combinations projected to improve fuel economy by up to 11 percent compared to the current truck. Here in the U.S., it seems likely our future Frontier would retain a 2.5-liter gasoline 4-cylinder engine as well as offer an optional V6. But if an oil-burning alternative does roll onto the scene, it could well be based on the 2.8-liter/4-cylinder Cummins turbodiesel seen in the Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Concept presented at the Chicago Auto Show. Backed by a ZF 8-speed autoshifter, it develops nearly 200 horsepower and over 350 lb-ft of torque while delivering 35 percent better fuel economy than the current V6 4x2 Frontier.
We'll have to wait to see just how much of the NP300 Navara actually does transition over to the next-generation Nissan Frontier. But we suspect this new world-spec offering in these photos reflects a fair bit of what we'll see in showrooms here within the next year or so.
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