Margaret River is a stunning place. The views are magnificent and there are plenty of tracks and beaches to tackle, which end in spectacular views across endless aqua blue waters. We're here to drive the latest Nissan Navara specials.
Amassing at the luxurious Crown Towers in Perth on the morning of our journey, we meet and greet and pair up for the Nissan-hosted event. Surrounding us in the foyer area are a fleet of Nissan Navara utes, but one in particular catches my eye. The ST Black Edition.
This is one mean-looking vehicle with aggressive off-road tyres and macho-looking black wheel arch flares. It is the latest in the range and has been produced as a limited run of only 900 vehicles.
The last incarnation of the Black Series was released in 2017 and titled the N-Sport Black Edition. It was built on the top-of-the-line ST-X platform but dealer and customer feedback identified an opportunity to develop a more affordable but impressive off-road-focussed model based on the ST variant. And I think it’s a masterstroke.
It comes with black 18-inch alloy wheels and all-terrain tyres, a black sports bar, black wheel arch flares, a black nudge bar, an LED driving light, a soft tonneau cover, a tub liner, a black front grille, black mirror caps, black fog light surrounds, smoked bonnet protector... It goes on, and it gets the looks as you cruise by startled motorists.
Our journey will take us from Perth down to the Margaret River region, with the first stretch being during the morning peak and all on the blacktop. The Navara ST Black Edition gets this part of the job done admirably, as you would expect. While the suspension changes to the platform deliver a slightly stiffer ride and better load carrying, the car's ability on the road is great. Sure there is a little body roll, but in many cases the dual-rate coil suspension is smoother than a leaf-sprung setup.
And it still manages to provide a good ride off-road. Our first foray off the tarmac was a short run down a beach south of Bouvard. The beach was particularly soft, requiring us to air down prior to hitting the sand. This is an important task as getting the pressures correct makes a huge difference to the car's ability.
Once set, the car sailed along. The camber on the beach provided an interesting lopsided ride with only one car becoming stuck on a particularly hilly section. I get the impression that was user error more than vehicular fault. A quick snatch retrieval and it was back on the road.
Our joy was short-lived, as overnight tides had washed much of the sand away on one stretch, requiring the convoy to backtrack and pick up the blacktop where we left it. That chewed up some time, so it was on the throttle for a long run out to Hoffman where our first rocky track would test the cars again.
The suspension setup is incredibly smooth and, while many complain of that jittery rear-end of any dual cab ute, I can’t say the Navara showed this trait unladen over the track at all. The twin-turbo engine also delivers power efficiently and doesn’t lurch or spin up too slowly.
The rest of day one was spent driving south through Gen Mervyn to Nannup and then west to Margaret River for our first night.
The area around Margaret River is quite possibly the most majestic on earth. No crowds, no traffic, and scenery that has to be seen to be believed. The new ST Black Edition Navara would take us north to Cape Naturaliste and to the popular surf spot, Yallingup. Here the track covers sharp rock, sand and some gravel, and on every surface the Grabber All Terrain tyres, that come standard on the car, excelled.
If you get the chance, this is what getting away from it is all about. And if you’re a surfer, uncrowded breaks await, but be wary of the residents, otherwise known as the men in grey suits.
We spent some time trundling around the low shrubs, staring at the ocean and the Black Edition in front of us, and admiring the view. We even caught sight of a few whales travelling down the coast, and then it was onto Dunsborough, and finally Busselton where a small flight signalled the beginning of the journey home.
While this latest Black edition is based on the ST, it really stands out, and in a sea of dual-cab utes, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t choose the Black Edition when looking at utes at this price point. I really like the look of it. It has a tough stance on road and more capability off it, which is exactly where it is aimed.
The cost is reasonable too, with a drive away price of $51,190. A slight premium over the standard ST version, sure, but you get over $10,000 of additional extras. I think they will sell plenty.