The Nissan NP300 has been around the block here in South Africa – in fact it’s been going around the block for 25 years now and the formula hasn’t changed much since its first lap. The NP300 is a workhorse and doesn’t compromise that task for anything. It’s rugged, manly, unshaven, and like the love child of Dirty Harry and Chuck Norris it’s as hard as nails.
What’s more is that few motoring stalwarts can boast success in so many facets of the motor industry than the Nissan NP300 Hardbody. From massive sales to a host of motorsport accolades – the Hardbody has a full trophy cabinet, about which any proud NP300 owner can boast.
With over 340 000 examples having left the factory gates at the Rosslyn plant since January 1994 to date, the NP300 is as South African as a braai on a Saturday afternoon. Since the inception of the nameplate in 1988 however, it is estimated that over 224 000 examples have made their way to proud South African owners, over 77 000 to the South African government and at least 144 000 have been exported – taking the total number of locally-built Hardbody’s to an estimated 446 000.
So now that there’s no doubting the NP300’s pedigree, what’s it like to live with? The best way to describe the entry level 2.5 TDi Base is ‘utilitarian’. The seats are covered in that easy-to-wipe-down pleather, while there’s so little electronic equipment on the inside that you’d be safe to hose down the whole cabin if the need arose. Luxury is non-existent of course, but there is a radio to keep you company and an aircon to keep you cool.
The ride is as one would expect – about as hard as a round house kick from Mr Norris himself, only far less comfortable. The NP300 is designed to take on a ton’s worth of equipment, materials, labourers or anything else really, so unladen the springs feel properly solid. Load her up though and the ride improves significantly.
The 2.5 litre turbo diesel power plant goes about its work admirably despite being far from the most sophisticated oil burner around. With 98kW and 304Nm on tap there’s little the NP300 can’t pull or carry – but it’s noisy and rather unwieldy on a daily commute.
Safety is one of the standout features of the NP300 Hardbody Workhorse range where dual airbags come as standard safety equipment.
The entire range has been price positioned to make the NP300 Hardbody the intelligent choice for any consumer, especially with running costs being reduced thanks to a 3year / 90 000km service plan that is now standard throughout the range.
Whether its intended application is farming, mining, forestry or a small business enterprise the NP300 Hardbody offers great bang for your buck. The 2.5TDi engine is the most powerful in its class, the load capacities are unmatched in their segments and safety is of the highest standard.
First published in Autodealer KZN