Here we sample a ute that ditches the chrome for a more streetworthy look. It’s the Nissan Navara R-Sport.
Truck sales continue to go crazy here; four of the five top-selling nameplates now belong to a ute. While all pick-ups tend to go out the door with an accessory or three, there’s a growing taste for customisation as well. The crew at RVE Vehicle Enhancement has been tapping into this market for a few years and has raised the bar with its recent Ford Ranger XSV that’s getting international attention. Now RVE has turned its attention to the Nissan Navara, producing a range of styling options to transform it into the R-Sport.
It’s based on the mid-spec Navara ST and is intended to create an alternative to the ST-X, which has a skew towards being more of a luxury ute. The R-Sport, as the name suggest, takes what is quite a conservative looking truck, and adds more of a sporting appeal to it. It goes about removing most of the shiny bits of the Navara’s exterior, save for the chrome belt line along the bottom of the windows, and adds the ute must-haves – big wheels, flares, a more distinguished style via unique graphics, and a new frontal treatment. The latter is the most visible change, the chromed V motion grille replaced by a new design with a charcoal grey surround and a black mesh insert featuring the R-Sport branding. Custom charcoal graphics are applied to most of the panels, the bonnet, doors, wellside and tailgate, and you won’t miss those. They come with a 10-year warranty against fading and peeling, so are unlikely to wash off the first time you hit them with the waterblaster. Key body parts are either painted or wrapped in the signature matt charcoal colour, which will stand out best on a white, red, or hornet gold Navara as featured, but might be too subtle on a black or silver ST.
Inside, the R-Sport isn’t quite as detailed as the Ranger XSV, which featured the upgraded dials and steering wheel, but the cabin is improved with sports-style seating. This sees the standard Navara chairs gaining added bolstering, before being trimmed in Pantera leather with the armour-style patterned insert. These offer more support without being overly restrictive, and are well trimmed. They can’t do anything about the Navara’s annoying steering wheel however, it’s horn button protruding right down the central spoke, which makes it easy to bump and sound off when trying to turn.
The R-Sport upgrades are available in stages, the first adding the leather sports seat with the armour inserts and R-Sport embossing, the exterior decals, 20-inch wheel and tyre package, badges, and the R-Sport grille with blackout surround. This adds $10,055 to the cost of an ST.
The second phase adds to this a front bumper skirt and matt charcoal colour coding of the grille surround, door and tailgate handles, badges, side step ends and the bumper skirt. Flares are added in this same charcoal colour, and the rear bumper, fog light surrounds and the running boards gain a matt charcoal vinyl wrap. Phase 2 costs an extra $5320.
The full-spec Stage Three R-Sport adds a ROC-branded retractable tray cover, and an extended sports bar, along with a further $4620 to the price.
There are other options to add as well, like the excellent Bedrug tray liner, seat heaters, moulded overmats which fit securely in place and cover the entire footwell, and front and rear parking sensors.
The retractable lid is one of the better designs we’ve come across. It’s a slider, and is easily unlatched with the one handle, situated on the left hand side for easy and safe use. It also stops wherever you want to slide it back to, and can be locked in place. The design ensures it remains watertight too. It’s compatible with most of the sports bar designs out there, including the factory item.
The all-terrain tyres have a chunky off road look to them, and are hum-free, the wheel and tyre pack within tolerance of the factory specifications for overall size to ensure the ESP systems all work as they should. The tyres, 265/50, are slightly wider than standard while the R-Sport goes from the ST’s 16-inch factory rim to a 20-inch alloy. The EVR wheels are RVE’s own design, and if you want to spend more, coloured inserts can be added to the spoke design. The big wheels don’t harm the ride either, which, unladen, is quite settled and there’s a reduction in the feeling of tyre wall flex in the bends. Navara’s steering is still with its hydraulic assistance, so is heavier than the likes of the Ranger and Hilux, but with a good sense of road feel for a big truck. And the ST is powered by the twin-turbo version of the 2.3-litre diesel, good for 140kW and a strong 450Nm, the effects of which are fully enjoyed by just 1500rpm, giving the truck a broad operating band as it works through to just past 4000rpm. And with the seven ratios of the auto on tap, it’s a strong performer.
As always, the R-Sport can be ordered via your local Nissan dealer at purchase time, and the truck will be delivered within a week in all its R-Sport glory.