The NP300 Hardbody is branded by Nissan as being a “workplace on the move”.
The title is fitting, seeing as the bakkie is not known for its comfort and feature set.
Both the interior and exterior have remained largely unchanged since the bakkie’s introduction in South Africa – and that includes features, too.
Cabin amenities include cloth seats, a manual air-conditioning system, and all-round electric windows.
You also get a sliding rear window to access the load box from within the cabin, and a radio/CD player with no additional inputs on hand.
Central locking with your remote will make the bakkie a little easier to live with, but this wraps up the short features list for the Hardbody.
The bakkie’s physical abilities, however, are where it makes up a lot of ground on its competitors.
A ladder frame chassis absorbs impact from collisions, front crumple zones minimise the impact inside the cabin, and standard fog lamps increases visibility over and above the halogen headlamps.
Additionally, a roll bar provides more tie down spots at the rear, and integrated roof rails further improve practicality.
A cleverly-designed load box will also let you carry cargo in several ways – and a menu of Nissan-approved aftermarket accessories make your customisation job easier while keeping the warranty intact.
The load box is nearly square and was built with purposefully-positioned grooves that allow you to place a partition either upright or on its side, thus creating two separate spaces for different loads.
In the top-spec trim, the Harbody will take a maximum of 1,005kg of cargo, and a braked towing capacity of up to 1,400kg is also supported.
The bakkie stands at 5,170mm long, 1,825mm wide, and 1,695mm tall – and weighs in at a tare mass of 1,725kg.
With all the capacities combined, the top-spec Hardbody is able to lug around a cabin with five passengers in addition to a total cargo of 2,455kg.
The Nissan Hardbody comes standard with two front airbags, safety belts, and ABS brakes.
These systems are in addition to the impact-absorbing body and chassis.
This bakkie is not, however, renowned for its safety features.
In fact, it was one of the main proponents that started the #safercarsforafrica campaign.
A 0-star Global NCAP rating for the locally-manufactured Hardbody led to more attention being placed on the safety ratings of vehicles built in and for Africa.
The Automobile Association of South Africa also provided a detailed breakdown of what goes wrong when the NP300 gets into an accident.
In short, they said the mechanical components of the vehicle, such as the steering column and chassis, do not do what they are supposed to do in an accident – and that’s not good news for the driver or their passengers.
If the safety concern is not a dealbreaker for you, you’ll be glad to know that the Hardbody is not lacking in power.
The top-spec model is fitted with a 2.5-litre, turbo-diesel engine that delivers 98kW and 304Nm.
A 5-speed manual transmission gets the job of handling the output, and power is sent to all four wheels.
This setup achieves a combined fuel consumption of 8.8l/100km.
Further control is then provided through auto-locking wheel hubs and a limited slip differential.
The latter is a mechanical component that controls the spin on a vehicle’s wheels, especially in off-road conditions.
It keeps the vehicle from sending too much power to only one corner, ensuring that the wheels keep turning – even if one gets bogged down.
The aforementioned Nissan-approved accessories that you can fit on your NP300 do well to accentuate the utilitarian nature of this vehicle.
The first is called the “agri pack”, which will see additions such as a bush bar, cattle rails, and a rubberised load box.
This pack also gives you Bluetooth capabilities – a feature that can’t be had on a Hardbody without the agri pack fitted.
The second option is called the “NP300 LWB mobile workshop canopy complete conversion”.
This will turn the Nissan into a rolling workshop by adding a stainless steel gullwing canopy, along with a mobile workshop toolset that features equipment such as a generator, oil trays, a fire extinguisher, coolant testers, and custom storage areas – to name a few.
It is worth mentioning that this pack will require a suspension upgrade, and details about this can be provided by an accredited Nissan dealer.
The top-spec Nissan NP300 – the Hardbody 2.5TDi Hi-Rider 4×4 D/Cab – has a South African price of R453,300.
Included in the price is a 6-year/150,000km warranty, and every customer will have a choice of eight exterior colours when buying their vehicle.
If you would like to see what the Hardbody competes against, visit TopAuto Car Prices where you can browse and compare all the new bakkies in the South African market.