At the time, I seriously thought he was joking or that he didn't understand Thailand's topography too well.
I couldn't relate to what Viadieu said during the test drive either, and it was held in Chiang Mai.
The Navara performed commendably, just like any other product that Nissan has made following its alliance with Renault, with the exception of the Tiida passenger car.
The Navara showed cranium-straining acceleration and the best handling through corners that I have ever found in a pickup.
It was not until much later, when I borrowed a Navara to test-drive it in Bangkok, that his words came echoing back.
My test vehicle in Chiang Mai had been a two-wheel-drive four-door with automatic transmission and the lower-powered 2.5-litre engine producing 144 brake horsepower and 356Nm of torque. The two-wheel-drive version comes with a different set of wheels from its four-wheel-drive cousin, no side step bars and no xenon lights.
Why did my perception of the Navara change?
Although both automatic and manual transmissions were available in Chiang Mai, our test roads consisted mostly of straight roads and then some off-roading. Not much time was spent in the gruelling bumper-to-bumper traffic that Bangkok drivers are subjected to on a daily basis.
First, however, let's look at the bright side of the Navara. You have to hand it to Nissan for getting the design right. The big boxy look makes it almost majestic. Then there is the interior, which seems to have found a fine balance between "sedanism" and "pickupism". Although it's still macho, the inside of the Navara is ergonomic and comfortable, and on the move the acceleration and corner-handling are truly refreshing.
Now, that is the mind-set I had on my way to pick up the Navara for a week. A lot of it remains, but some important things have changed. You see, driving a car with manual transmission in Bangkok isn't the smartest choice, unless you've got a mechanical left leg. So the obvious choice if you are a city-dweller is the automatic.
While the gear lever and display are "upmarket" in appearance, it's the way the Navara's transmission performs that causes annoyance. And it's not just the transmission. Coupled with a high-revving engine, the Navara is hard to drive smoothly in big-city conditions.
It tends to lurch forward with every slight prod of the accelerator, and any driver will react by taking his foot off the gas, so the car slows down too much.
If you're in slow-moving, bumper-to-bumper traffic, the Navara feels like a hip-hop rapper bouncing to a rhythm as it bobs back and forth.
The usual way to solve this problem is to familiarise your foot with the vehicle and learn to press down gently. But with the Navara, this is like painting the Mona Lisa with your feet. Eventually, you get the knack but not as quickly as you would like.
Another factor is the Navara's size. Although Bangkok drivers are used to piloting big trucks through tightly cramped streets, the Navara feels a little too big for comfort.
On the highways, the Navara proves itself by performing at high speeds with poise and control. It handles high-speed corners with ease and shadows all of its competitors in this regard.
So should you buy the Navara if you're a city-dweller? The Navara that I tested will set you back Bt730,000, so think well and think hard. Before making a down payment, take a test drive and instead of pounding it down the Expressway like a bullet train, take it to Silom at rush hour.
The Navara is a good vehicle, but like every vehicle, it has its flaws. However, if you're fortunate enough to be living on the outskirts of the capital or in another city in Thailand, then enjoy!
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.