A drive even the timid thrive

City driving is a profoundly challenging task. Many drivers find it intimidating – not just the jam-packed narrow dual lanes but at times even on the free-flowing six (and at times eight-lane) carriageways.

What with the aggressive attitude of fellow road users to contend with, there are roads pockmarked with potholes and craters that lie in wait to trigger your suspension’s judder.

Is it any wonder hippos lord it in swampy rivers, no lions make a meal of rhinos in the savannah, or that man is the only predator preying on elephants?

Size and presence say it all. Might, after all, is right! On any public thoroughfare, the big, bold, and bulky can muscle on to oust other less dominating moving objects.

So, on our challenging roads that make survival akin to a battle in the plains of the Masai Mara, one gets a headstart in life – or staying alive; by climbing up and nestling comfortably in the driver’s cocoon of the Nissan Navara Pro-4X.

The Pro-4X is the iteration of the Nissan Navara, introduced to the Malaysian market just over 18 months ago. High time indeed for the introduction of a new variant, as the previous Navara debuted in 2016.

Having been given the keys to this ‘mother of a trucker’ – that’s about as indelicate as I will allow myself in my dotage – I gingerly climbed up, strapped myself in, and took a bit of time to orientate myself taking command of the ‘captain’s’ seat of the driver’s cab.

Once inside the cabin, one notices the leather upholstery, unique floor mats, and the Nissan badge planted slap-bang in the middle of the steering wheel.

There is a classy cockpit feel with instrumentation and dials laid out to give a ‘Captain’s’ air of control and authority. There is a heightened level of quietness as the Pro-4X suppresses noise by using acoustic laminated glass on the windscreen and front windows.

You may not be facing a modern fighter jet’s ‘Heads-up Display’, but you do have to consult a seven-inch instrument cluster and an eight-inch infotainment unit to keep you in total situational awareness of the truck’s performance.

No vehicle worth its salt will leave you ‘powerless’ nowadays, so you have three USB type-A and 1 USB type-C charging port, all within easy reach within the cabin for front and rear occupants.

Multitudes of cameras and sensors aid driver vision and awareness and help ‘preserve’ life and limb from hitting other cars that may stray into your path or pedestrians that might get in the way. It is useful, especially when reversing.

The Pro-4X has a feature called Intelligent Predictive Forward Collision Warning and Intelligent Emergency Braking. It allows its sensors to monitor the second vehicle ahead and the one in front to avoid collisions.

The sensation may be jarring but try to prove the whole ‘scheme’ works. It is an important feature in a driver’s ‘defensive driving’ armoury as how many times have we become drowsy to the point of succumbing to ‘microsleep?’.

Why do I value this so much? I have a little revelation – I crashed into the back of a car in front of me when I suddenly fell asleep for a micro-second and suffered the consequences.

On a different occasion, I drove a car with this braking feature. That saved me the ignominy – and liability of a similar incident.

For a relative behemoth, the Navara is surprisingly ‘docile’. On our test drive, we persuaded a female traveller whose experience behind the wheel was exclusively steering her ‘petite’ Perodua (not saying which one!).

Far from being intimidated, she sniggered coquettishly when the diesel engine roared to life upon ignition. Its size gave her plenty of assurance that its hefty road presence made other road users give it a wide berth.

Navara’s bulk, height, and dominating presence make it unmissable to other road users. That is reassuring as, more often than not, a path forward magically opens as rival drivers give due deference to you.

What else makes the Navara a truck worth driving? ‘Tis the season for durians and ‘candat sotong’ (jigging).

With its flatbed rear, imagine the sacks of thorny fruits you can bring home from the mountains of Mantin or the rural dusuns in Raub. If you don’t mind the briny air; head for Marang or Dungun for an overnight trip in a boat and haul in squid that is as fresh as it gets.

For the petrolheads (a bit out of place in this age of EVs), the Pro-4X is well-armed with a 2,500 cc engine that can pull you out of off-road ruts, climb steep inclines or clamber down slippery slopes, much less plough through muddy craters.

There are any number of easy to intermediate ‘off-road’ recreational tracks in the hills of Bentong or Janda Baik within two toll gates distance from the city of the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway.

We leave that sojourn for a later edition.

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