I’ve just had a week of driving a proper blokes vehicle. The Nissan Navara STX550 double cab ute went on a return trip to Whitianga.
Under the hood
A 3L turbo intercooled Renault/Nissan diesel spins this puppies wheels and it produces a breath-taking 550nm of torque at 1750rpm. It’s quick. Matched to a 7 speed auto transmission it’s smooth, powerful and a mighty fine towing vehicle. Add in the dual 4x4 electronic selection and it will also go most places a bloke needs to go and do the things that need to be done like fishing, diving and hunting (and work). It’s also a pleasure to drive and very comfortable for those family trips too.
There’s plenty of room inside – five people comfortably or a couple or three keen lads and a heap of fishing kit – the 550 is good for all options. It has a clear, clean dash layout and state of the art the mod cons including bluetooth for your smartphone, and a very accurate and smooth Cruise Control.
I paired up my phone in a jiffy and enjoyed music and the occasional business call on the trip to Whitianga. The cruise control is handy too as that motor is quiet and it’d be easy to let the speed creep up on you on those long straight roads. Side curtain air bags and stability control are additional safety features welcomed in the design.
The tray is roomy and the spec sheet says good for 850kg or thereabouts. On a good day there’d be room for a brace of marlin and broadbill as well the gear then!
On the road
It feels solid, smooth and safe and the return trip from Auckland to Whitianga highlighted a couple of key traits of the 550 that I really liked. Excellent road holding combined with plenty of grunt to smooth out the corners The Tairua hill is an especially gnarly twisty-turny thing which cruelly exposes inadequacies in any vehicle but the 550 handled it with aplomb. On the road it has the handling you’d expect from a mid-priced car and behaves immaculately.
It’s not a light unit, weighing in at 2177kg according to the specsheet and about 150kg heavier than the four-cylinder STX450, but there’s plenty of go to move it around and the extra weight is probably a good thing if you’re towing. 17” alloys with 255/65R17 tyres and ventilated discs on the front and followed up with the rear drums means heaps of stop when it’s needed too. It also has Active Brake Limited Slip (ABLS). The front suspension has independent, double wishbone with coil over shock and at the rear, rigid axle with leaf spring. The 550 rides well, handles well and takes the 'judder' out of judder bars.
Fuel economy is good. This is a frugal motor for it's power rating. The spec sheet says 9.3L per 100km and even after a lot of travelling around over the last week there's still 1/4 of a tank left so that's another 'like'.
Towing & off road
As part of this little adventure I shot over to Kuaotunu with the kayak and had a quick fish out around the Blackjack and picked up a couple of nice snapper for dinner.
The electronic 4WD makes all that off-road stuff easy and I barrelled through the sand for a very convenient launch right at the waters edge.
The Nissan is rated to tow 3 tonne and putting the the 6.2m lasercraft (which is less than 2 tonne all up) on the towbar and taking the rig for a drive confirmed that this is a serious towing vehicle even if it’s still confined to the 3 tonne rating as the 450 is.
There’s little doubt it could possibly pull more in comfort and with the big discs and weight still meet the requirements of the law which states that every light vehicle and trailer combination must be capable of stopping within a distance of seven metres from a speed of 30km/h. In effect, this means that the maximum allowable weight of an un-braked trailer is limited by the weight and braking ability of the vehicle being used to tow it. It would be interesting to see some tests on bigger rigs in the >7m range but the STX550 would be ideal for those in my view..
If you’re towing or doing things that boys need to do then you need a vehicle that has some serious grunt and this new Nissan 550 has grunt with a capital Grrrrrrr!
Take one for a test drive.
Pricing May 2012: Navara STX-550 $67,990.
An original article written for The Fishing Website - Fishing.net.nz Ltd
By Grant Blair 2012
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