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Nissan NV200: Test Drive Review

Date: 20 November 2009   |   Author: Steve Banner

Category: Light van
Price (ex VAT): £12,500 (est.)
Key rival: Volkswagen Caddy

Nissan intends to launch six all-new LCVs in Europe over the next five years. All will be badged solely as Nissan as the company moves away from its reliance on re-badged versions of its Alliance partner Renault's products to tackle the light and panel van sectors of the market.

The first of the new vans will be the NV200, due to go on sale at the beginning of November and replacing the Kubistar, which will cease to exist.

Based on the same platform as the Micra car, the NV200 - available from launch as a conventional van as well as a five- or seven-seat Combi- is a very different prospect to its predecessor.

For a start it's 365mm longer and has a substantially bigger load volume at 4.2cu/m, and the styling is more reminiscent of a scaled-down panel van than a light van. Also, while most manufacturers now offer their light vans with a choice of two wheelbases, Nissan has given the NV200 the footprint of a short-wheelbase but the load capacity of a long-wheelbase. To put this in context, it is the same length as the standard Volkswagen Caddy but has the load volume of the Maxi.

There are three reasons for this slightly Tardis-like result: the cab design means that the seats are set as far forwards as they can go, the 55-litre fuel tank is sited under seats and the leaf-sprung rear suspension is very compact.

Clever design means the NV200 boasts a load length of 2040mm, and with 1220mm between the wheel boxes means it can accommodate two standard Europallets. A load height of 1358mm and a gross payload of 752kg completes the picture.

There will be two trim levels on offer: E and SE. The former includes manual window winders, a driver's airbag, multi-function trip computer - including a gear-shift indicator - radio/CD player with a 3.5mm aux-in socket, steering wheel rake adjustment and an immobiliser. Moving up to SE - which Nissan reckons 85% of buyers will do - adds electric windows and door mirrors, height adjustment for the driver's seat and Nissan's excellent Intelligent Key keyless entry central locking system.

The engine is the same 1.5-litre Renault dCi turbodiesel unit also found in the Kangoo. Capable of producing 86PS, it has a CO2 output of 137g/km and combined cycle fuel consumption of 54.3mpg. There are plans, however, to introduce a more powerful 106PS version at the beginning of next year. The front wheels are driven via a manual five-speed gearbox.

Despite being relatively low-powered at 86PS, the 1.5dCi coped admirably on the roads around Barcelona. There was ample feedback from the front wheels and the steering weighted-up nicely as speed rose. Not too much bodyroll was evident during cornering either.

The driving position in the spacious and airy two-seater cab is commanding, offering good all-round vision, and the gearstick is well positioned for easy access from the steering wheel. The seats provided enough support, but it would be better if the steering wheel was adjustable for reach as well as rake. The suspension coped well with the Spanish roads, but we have a niggling suspicion that the small 14-inch wheels may well upset it when they encounter the UK's highways of the UK; time will tell.

Nissan reckons it will sell around 500 NV200s by March 2010, rising to 2000 for the first full sales year. Prices will be announced closer to launch.

Nissan NV200 SE 1.5dci 86
Price (ex VAT)£12,500*
Model price range£11,500-£12,500*
Service interval12,500 miles
Insurancegroup 6E
Load length2040mm
Load width (min/max)1220/1500mm
Load bay height1358mm
Loading height524mm
Gross payload752kg
Engine size/power1461cc/86PS
On saleNovember
VerdictClean styling and great
at load capacity/road
footprint equation


Clean styling and great at load capacity/road footprint equation