Motoring with Tatenda Macheka: NP200: The ‘wheelbarrow’ is back

Although Nissan no longer manufactures the NP 200, there is still high demand for the vehicle
Although Nissan no longer manufactures the NP 200, there is still high demand for the vehicle

MOTORING with Tatenda Macheka

WHEN news broke in 2008 that the longest era in Nissan motoring history had come to an end, especially when Nissan pulling the plug on the Nissan 1400 (Champ), no one ever thought that its heir will be equally as successful as its predecessor.

The Champ, as it was known by its legion of fans, really had a good run. But it ran its race and it ran it well, particularly after having seen generations of the Mazda Rustler, Ford Bantam, Volksie Beetle, the original Mini, the Morris Minor, the Ford Anglia, the hugely popular Valiant, and a whole tribe of Ford, Chevrolet and other Yank-tanks all come and bow out.

Petrol-heads, who fondly refer to the Champ as a “wheelbarrow”, generally often use the hyperbole that just a spoonful of fuel usually works wonders.

And the rebirth of the Champ as the all-new Nissan NP 200 was seamless.

Although it incorporates the same principle against fuel gluttony, with its agility and massive work rate, no one will miss the Champ.

The NP200 took on all-comers when it entered the market in 2008 with a segment-leading payload of 800kg. It had both diesel and petrol options.

It soon became one of Nissan’s favourite sub-one-tonne pick-ups.

Just like it’s senior cousin, the NP 300 that replaced the iconic Nissan Wolf at the turn of the millennium, it did not disappoint.

The last time I had a chat with Jim Dando – an official with the Africa regional office (export sales) for Nissan South Africa – when he was announcing the new dealership between Nissan South Africa and five local dealers in Harare, he told me that between 2014 and 2018 Nissan would roll out 18 new products, of which 11 of the new offerings will be passenger cars.

Crucially, he noted that although the company no longer recommends the NP300 and NP200 to customers, it is always inundated with requests from customers for more of the vehicle brands.

It was an indication that Nissan was moving away from the legacy model of the business.

I had a chance to drive the NP 200 and, trust me, its lower gears are just powerful for any terrain in Zimbabwe. It is a workhorse with horse power.

This legendary pick-up is reliable, durable and amazingly affordable.

The NP200 is powered by either a 1,6 litre unleaded petrol engine or a 1,5dCi diesel engine.

This ensures that every NP200 model has more than enough power to get the job done.

With the proven Nissan engine reliability, a major contributor to the NP200’s popularity, you will always be assured of a cost-effective family or business half-tonne option.

The NP200 has won the hearts of many. Car parks of major corporates are usually stuffed with one or two of these workhorses as they have been charmed.

In January this year, Nissan South Africa face-lifted the NP200 to make it look more appealing and nicer.

The Nissan NP200 Stealth is an ultra-cool special edition that combines the famous practicality of the pick-up with head-turning looks.

Despite its name, customers are sure to get noticed in the Stealth, thanks to its wealth of themed design features and approved factory-fitted accessories.

The Stealth will leave rivals in its shadow, thanks to a winning combination of generous accessories all fitted at the factory – and styling cues.

The 1,6 litre special edition comes with air-conditioning, ABS and two air-bags, while dark grey techno paint, darkened sports bar and flush-fitting tonne cover kick off the dark theme.

A prominent nudge bar is also added below the colour-coded grille frame.

Nissan has opted for a darkened steel finish for both the sports and nudge bar, giving the NP200 Stealth a dominant road presence.

The dark theme extends further to special factory-fitted charcoal black alloy wheels with red accents in the hubs, dark side and rear fitted Stealth decals and dark tinted smash-and-grab protected windows.

To crown the exterior treatment and identify the NP200 Stealth on the road, Nissan has added daytime running lights to the front air dam.

The accessories are not limited to the exterior.

Inside the spacious cabin, Nissan has added an Alpine radio with Bluetooth and USB connectivity.

The seats are upholstered in special eco leather with titanium-coloured contrasting stitching and Stealth-embroidered logos.

The logo is also repeated in the Stealth carpet set.

To round off the full-house treatment, Nissan has fitted the NP200 Stealth with remote central locking.

Last year’s NP200 Loaded Special Edition was a big success, but for 2015, it is believed that the company’s design and engineering team did try to push the boundaries.

And the result is the NP200 Stealth, a pickup that we believe will be even more successful, especially because it represents significant value and the quality of factory fitment.

The NP200 recently celebrated its most successful year since its introduction after the National Association of Automobile Manufacturers reported a total NP200 sales of 17 412 units in 2014, reaffirming its position as South Africa’s undisputed sub-one-tonne favourite.

The NP200 is both modern and rugged in its styling, echoing its dual purpose promise as passenger commuter and willing workhorse.

Use it for one or the other or use it for both, you choose.

Once inside and you will be pleasantly surprised at the spaciousness of the cabin.

In fact, it’s the biggest in its class, boasting ample storage space behind the seats as well as other storage areas, including drink holders, a glove box and door bins to keep your valuables safe. Whether used for business, to help your best friend move house, to lug around your outdoor toys or just as a zippy runabout, the Nissan NP200 makes for a welcome addition to any family.

And it makes good financial sense too.

It carries a price tag that won’t break the bank and is guaranteed to save you on fuel costs.

Fact sheet

1,6 litre petrol engine

5-speed manual gearbox

Ventilated disk brakes (Front)

Drum brakes (Rear)

Height adjustable headrests

Collapsible steering column

Electronic anti-theft

Power Steering

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  • truzimbo

    What doyou mean “It carries aprice tag that will not break the bank” when the basic model is priced at a RIDICULOUS $18000.00 plus? Are you on Nissan’s payroll or something?

  • 123kid

    Renault engine get your facts straight ,smells like plastic ,feels like plastic,horrible gearbox ratios nothing like the CHAMP.
    champ way better because it was a true Nissan.