What Car? says...
When the Nissan e-NV200 was first introduced in 2014, it was seen as just a Nissan Leaf with a van body, but in reality, it's so much more. The unconventional size of the e-NV200 – it's taller than most other small vans – meant it was immediately more suitable to businesses wanting to maximise carrying capacity in a zero-emission van. And while the market for electric vehicles was still relatively immature back then, the e-NV200 has found itself a role in the best and biggest blue chip fleets in the years since.
The first models were fitted with a 24kWh battery pack, providing a realistic real-world range of less than 60 miles. However, in 2018 the e-NV200 was upgraded with a new 40kWh battery that has boosted its official range to 174 miles, or in excess of 100 miles in real-world conditions. That still may not sound like much, but any increase in range is as significant psychologically as it is practically.
The latest e-NV200 is suitable for a wider range of users than early versions, then. And for added peace of mind, it's worth considering just how often you actually need your van to cover more than 50-60 miles in a day. Particularly under urban delivery conditions, it could be that your van seldom exceeds 100 miles. Concern over range limitations is less relevant when longer journeys are less frequent.
Like its diesel-engined sibling, the e-NV200 is available with a van body, as a five-seat combi van, or as the five or seven-seat e-NV200 Evalia people carrier. The e-NV200 comes in just one size, with a 107bhp electric motor. Three trim levels are available, comprising entry-level Visia, mid-range Acenta and top-spec Tekna.
Although electric vans are far from dominant in the segment, the Nissan e-NV200 has a surprising amount of competition that includes the Renault Kangoo ZE, and the electric versions of the Citroën Berlingo and Peugeot Partner, as well as a forthcoming Volkswagen e-Caddy. Larger electric vans include the Renault Master ZE and the Volkswagen e-Crafter.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The e-NV200’s big advantages over diesel-engined vans are that the torque from its electric motor arrives immediately (all 187lb ft of it) and that you don’t have any gears to change though. Driving is therefore seamless and smooth.
The obvious limitation is its shorter service range, but with a battery pack that allows the e-NV200 to cover more than 100 miles on a charge in real-world conditions, many vans, particularly if operated by businesses with set areas of operation, will survive the working day if charged on a nightly basis.
Occasional longer journeys are possible, too, thanks to fast charging; the on-board 6.6kW charger allows the battery to be charged up to 80% in just 30 minutes, at the kind of charging point you'll find at a motorway service station. That's compared with eight hours from a 32A wall box.
There’s also an Eco mode that helps drivers improve the range of the van. This limits acceleration and increases how much energy is recovered while coasting and braking. It’s a useful addition to the overall driving experience, because it encourages much greater awareness and forward planning in order to maximise the regenerative potential of the systems. However, with the Eco button turned off, the e-NV200 becomes an enjoyably and surprisingly fast little van.
The floor-mounted batteries help to lower its centre of gravity, and, in a high-sided van like this, that certainly makes it feel more planted than the diesel-engined NV200.
The real bonus, however, is in the utter serenity of its driving experience. The 1.5-litre diesel engine in the NV200 is not particularly noisy, unless you have the five-speed manual gearbox and are doing a lot of motorway mileage. But without an engine altogether, the e-NV200 becomes truly relaxing to be in thanks to its sheer quietness. Road noise is present, but only because there is nothing else to drown it out, so it's far from being bothersome.