What Car? says...
The Nissan NV300 is the replacement for the Primastar, which went off sale in 2016. While the name might be different, much is the same – in principal at least. Like the Primastar, the NV300 is a joint-engineered version of the Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro. It’s built in the same factory as the Primastar was and it’s doing the same job as the Primastar did.
That job is to compete against the Ford Transit Custom, Citroen Dispatch and, of course, it’s brothers and sisters that are based on the same underpinnings – the Trafic, Vivaro and Talento. You might think that not much has changed then, apart from the name? Wrong. But first, a little about that new name…
Nissan’s naming structure is simple. NV stands for Nissan Van and the numbers then refer to the size of the van. So, there’s the junior city-van NV200, followed by the NV300 middle-child and, finally, the big daddy NV400. But it doesn’t stop there. Nissan NT stands for Nisan Truck and NP is Nissan Pick-Up, so there are the NT400 and NT500 chassis cabs as well as the rugged NP300 Navara.
Back to vans, and the NV300 is powered by a 1.6-litre diesel made by Renault and shared across the partner vans. It’s the same engine used in the Nissan Qashqai and is available in four different outputs, with 94bhp and 119bhp from a single-turbo engine, or 123bhp and 143bhp form a twin-turbo unit.
No automatic gearbox option is currently available, although Nissan is considering adding one. Other versions include a double cab van with as much as 4m3 load space and six seats, or a minibus with space for up to nine.
Whilst the NV300 is made using a shared platform, crucially there is one major difference to Nissan’s offering: the NV300 comes with a five-year, 100,000 mile warranty that includes roadside assistance and is transferable between buyers.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Just like in the Renault Trafic or Vauxhall Vivaro, there is a notable difference between each of the four engines. We’d recommend avoiding the 94bhp engine for anything other than light duty or city work, but the 119bhp version is a big improvement.
The engine you really should be aiming for though is the twin-turbo. The 123bhp unit is one of the most economical on the market, with a 47.1mpg claimed economy, and has a wide power band, with 236lb ft of torque from just 1500rpm. If you need more power the 143bhp engine is equally impressive.
The NV200 handles well, and although it’s not as engaging to drive as a Ford Transit Custom, it holds the road well, with very little body roll, and feels sharp and nimble going around bends. The ride is on the firm side, but it’s not too harsh; with weight on board its genuinely comfortable. With more than a tonne of weight capable of being carried in the back, braking performance, as with all modern vans, is exemplary.
You won’t hear much in the way of road or engine noise as sound deadening is impressive. Visibility is also great, and made better still with the option of a wide-angle passenger mirror within the sun visor.
The interior layout, fit and finish
The NV300 is available in three trim levels, and it is among this standard equipment that the mid-sized van differentiates itself slightly from its the Vivaro, Talento and Trafic.
Entry-level trim Visia gets Bluetooth, DAB radio, steering wheel mounted audio controls, electric windows, heated doors mirrors and a height-adjustable driver’s seat.
Next is Acenta, which adds body-coloured bumpers, manual air-conditioning, one-touch electric windows on the driver’s side, under-seat storage and a fold-down central seat with a removable A4 clipboard. There’s also a load-through bulkhead, a wide-angle passenger-side mirror, rear-parking sensors and front fog lights.
If you really want to splash out on the Tekna trim, you get rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather gearnob and steering wheel, cruise control and the Nissan Connect sat-nav and entertainment system.
If you can survive without built-in sat nav and the smarter 7in touchscreen to control your phone and audio preferences then mid-level Acenta is what we’d choose.
As well as having a few appealing extra bits over its siblings, the NV300 has the same interior as them, which means it has a comfortable, fairly spacious cab with a reasonable amount of storage, including a large central dash area suitable for folders or papers, a standard sized glovebox and, on Tekna models, a closed upper glovebox on the passenger side.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
The NV300's rear is 200mm longer than that of the Primastar. That means the NV300 is now 4998mm long for a standard length model and 5398mm for the long-wheelbase version.
As a result the maximum loadspace lengths have also increased, with it now possible to carry 2537mm items in the standard L1 van and up to 2937mm in the L2 model. A load-through bulkhead – which you get on Acenta vans – increases the maximum carrying length in L1 models from 2537mm to 3750mm and in L2 variants from 2937mm to 4150mm.
If you need to carry bulky items, the maximum load volume is 8.6m3, which is slightly more than the 8.3m3 that you’ll find in the biggest Transit Custom.
If it’s a heavier load that you’ll be carrying, then a maximum of 1056kg can be moved in the 2.74-tonne gross vehicle weight models or 1,236kg in the higher-rated 2.96-tonne vans.
NV300s come fitted with a passenger-side door as standard, while the rear doors can be specified as a hatch or as conventional doors that open to 180-degrees, or fold flat along the sides of the van on the longer L2 bodied vehicles.
One loadspace option unique to Nissan is the independent rear loadspace locking, and if you specify the optional I-Key you get keyless entry to both the front and rear doors as well as keyless start.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Buying a Nissan NV300 is all about value for money. Of the four vans built on the shared chassis, the Nissan NV300 and Fiat Talento are less popular and therefore more likely to be most attractive on price.
But the Nissan has an additional trump card: its five-year, 100,000 miles warranty betters the four-year, 100,000 mile warranty offered by Renault, embarrasses the three-year or 100,000 miles warranty from Vauxhall, and smashes the three-year, 80,000 miles offered by Fiat.
Throw in roadside assistance and the slightly higher specification and the NV300 is the sensible person’s choice over many of its stablemates.
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