Long term tests

Nissan Navara

Our Navara turns support vehicle as Henry Catchpole embarks on a cycling marathon

Under a cold, starry night sky, five days, eleven hours and fifty-three minutes after setting off from Land’s End, the Navara rolled to a stop in front of the green gate at the entrance to Duncansby Head lighthouse – two miles on from John O’Groats and the most north-easterly point in mainland Britain. To be honest, it would have completed the 885 miles an awful lot quicker if it hadn’t had to keep stopping for a lanky idiot on a pushbike…

There was really only one choice in the Fast Fleet for a support vehicle for cycling from one end of the country to the other. (If you’re wondering why I was doing it at all, it’s because evo contributor Brett Fraser said I couldn’t. And it was for charity. Oh yes, and I planned it well before last month’s Mazda advertorial!) The Navara’s rear loading bay, complete with lockable cover, was large enough to fit two bikes in, and the back seats provided a splendid dumping ground for a week’s worth of random cycling kit, enough Lucozade Sport to keep you awake for three months straight and lots of junk that I thought might be useful but wasn’t.

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Bruce Frost, who gallantly agreed to drive the Navara, said he thoroughly enjoyed it. Slightly worryingly, he also decided that the female voice coming from the Nissan’s excellent satnav was ‘quite fit’, although his instincts to ignore a woman giving directions obviously still kicked in, as he got lost, a lot.

Fortunately the bright blue pick-up/evo billboard is visible from space, so it was always easy to spot it pulled up in a lay-by waiting for me to slump into the passenger seat for ten minutes and wolf down another half-kilo of Dairy Milk.

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The fancy bike, if you’re interested in this sort of thing, is a Specialized Roubaix Expert (complete with Shimano Ultegra SL). It’s completely carbonfibre, weighs less than a Bentley wheel nut (about 8kg) and survived potholes that the Navara probably needed low ratio for (turning the dial to low ratio when Bruce wasn’t looking never ceased to amuse me). In the bike world it’s the equivalent of a Ferrari 599 GTB, and despite spending so much time on it that I couldn’t walk properly afterwards, I still absolutely love it.

It’s a shame the A9 from Inverness to Wick is such a blooming long way away, because driving back down it was terrific. With transmission in two-wheel-drive mode and some marginally aggressive use of the throttle, the Navara was actually quite fun too. Slightly gallingly, it managed the 760 miles back to Surrey in just one day.

Running Costs

Date acquiredFebruary 2007
Total mileage18,511
Costs this month£0
Mileage this month3303
MPG this month26.8
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