Nissan Navara Off-roader AT32 Double Cab
Top speed 114mph
0-62mph 10.8 seconds
We all have certain codes by which we live. These are mine: always go upstairs on a double-decker bus; always order crème brûlée if it’s on the menu and I always, always drive through a ford if at all possible. This has led to some hairy moments, like when water poured through the boot of an old Fiat 127 or a posh Audi A6 was left spluttering for days after gulping filthy water when I nosed out of its depth.
But there was no danger of that happening this week. The word “car” doesn’t really do the Nissan Navara justice. It is a colossal mountain of metal – and this latest model, the AT32, is the most extreme, most pumped-up, most gym-honed version of the 4×4 yet.
The AT stands for Arctic Trucks – an Icelandic firm famous for building properly uncompromising and resolutely indestructible all-terrain vehicles to cope with the wilds of its home country. Now it has gone into partnership with Nissan and converted the Navara double-cab into this jaw-on-the-floor pick-up. Arctic Trucks are graded by their increasingly outrageous tyres: the AT32 has whopping 32-inchers. Conversions done for Isuzu and Toyota are even chunkier, with 35-inchers which, even in this muscle-bound off-road universe, seems a little over the top.
As well as the huge wheels, compared to a regular Navara, you get boosted suspension and improved ground clearance. To keep the more delicate workings of your precious baby safe, much of the underside of the AT32 is armoured with steel skid plates, so that no matter how scenic the route you choose your engine, fuel tank and transmission will be protected. With its massive arches and glinting chrome roll bars, the AT32 is an intimidating spectacle. It’s more gladiator than service vehicle. But what really sets it apart is the optional snorkel air intake which winds itself up the right flank of the car like a giant black periscope. This costs an extra £1,440 and means you can wade through water up to 800mm deep. Its high position also helps filter out dusty air in more arid environments.
How necessary is wading for your average motorist? It’s totally irrelevant – unless you happen to be a game keeper or maybe a reservoir engineer. But you’ll be surprised to learn that in the UK there are 2,214 fords. Wetroads.co.uk lists all of them. The site is a work of lifelong dedication by Professor Lee Chapman and his directory is a guide to every identified ford, watersplash and tidal road from High Glenadale in Argyll to Coombe Bissett in Wiltshire. It was this last one that I sailed across in the Navara, stopping midway to marvel as the waters of the swollen River Ebble flowed round us.
The AT32 is bursting with aids to make life easier and safer for you and your passengers. There’s hill descent control and hill start assist. It has active brake limited slip which boosts grip by braking slipping wheels which transfers power and torque to the wheels that do have traction. There’s three-mode 4WD modes and full parking cameras. All of this is powered by a mighty 190hp 2.3-litre twin-turbo diesel. It’s built to tame green lanes, rocky trails and craggy passes, but copes well with smooth roads, too. During a week in which I covered more than 800 miles, my real-world consumption was over 38mpg which, in a fully loaded vehicle of this size, was impressive. And how many other cars have you driven which you can take for a drive and a swim?
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