What Car? says...
The Nissan NV200 is something of an anomaly in the small van sector. Its compact footprint makes it instantly comparable to the likes of the Volkswagen Caddy, Ford Transit Connect or Citroen Berlingo, yet it’s slightly higher body and much narrower width really set it apart from all rivals.
Load volumes are the most obvious benefit of the NV200’s unusual proportions, with the taller van able to carry as much as 4.2m3.
Launched in 2009, the NV200 has to-date only ever undergone minor changes during its lifespan, but the concept of a taller city van has won it many admirers, not least in New York, where it was approved and launched as a replacement for the ageing and world-famous Lincoln Town Car and Ford Crown Victoria yellow taxis.
If it’s not a taxi you are after then there are panel van and crew van versions available, plus a refrigerated model. There is also the possibility of tailor-made conversions from a number of approved body-builders.
A 1.5-litre dCi engine powers the NV200 and is available with either an 89bhp or 110bhp power output.
The NV200 is front-wheel-drive only and there’s no option of an automatic transmission. Instead, a six-speed manual is fitted on the higher-powered van while the base- level 89bhp vehicle gets a five-speed gearbox. The NV200 is also available as a full-electric van, the Nissan eNV200.
Three different levels of trim are available on the NV200, with Visia, Acenta and Tekna options each adding improvements on top of the other.
While the obvious competition is the wealth of city vans available including the Transit Connect and Berlingo, extended wheelbase versions offer a closer match for carrying capacity.
The Volkswagen Caddy Maxi and Renault Kangoo Maxi offer similar load volumes but in a longer footprint, while the short-wheelbase versions of mid-sized vans that offer as little as 1.5m3 additional space could even be considered as rivals – although the purchase price and running costs of vans including the Vauxhall Vivaro or Mercedes-Benz Vito are considerably higher.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There’s no doubting the NV200 has been set up to thrive in the city, but that doesn’t mean it’s not at home out on the open road.
The fact it is tall and narrow could cause issues when it comes to handling, but the NV200 is actually quite adept at taking the corners. The ride is smooth and - despite having skinny tyres - it copes with all manner of roads well.
The power generated by the entry-level engine is just on the fringes of being acceptable. Most small vans tend to have around 100bhp and that additional 10% makes a significant contribution.
If you’re just going to be using the NV200 around town then the 148 lb ft of torque is sufficient to drag you away from a standing start but if you’re planning on stretching the legs of the NV200 we’d recommend the 110bhp engine. Not only is there more power, but torque is increased to 177 lb ft and there’s also an extra gear to improve fuel economy and the engine speeds while at a cruise.
Both engines are pretty quiet, but if you do plan to do motorway miles the six-speed gearbox will pay dividends.
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