Nissan NV200 Combi
Nissan has in recent years shifted its focus away from the traditional mainstream sectors of the car market, and instead has focused on the ‘lifestyle’ market, through cars such as the Qashqai, and the new Cube and Juke models.
The move has undoubtedly been a success – but it has taken Nissan away from the private hire sector, where it used to have a strong presence with the Primera, and before that, the Bluebird.
But the Japanese marquee has not totally abandoned the taxi world – and it’s just launched a versatile new MPV that is likely to have strong appeal to private hire and taxi drivers. As a panel van, the NV200 has already scooped up a hatful of awards. Now, with seats and windows, the NV200 Combi is being offered as an ideal low-cost seven-seater, with plenty of luggage space and cheap running costs.
Nissan has been here before, of course, with the 1990s Serena. Not the most attractive minivan, but it proved a durable taxi – one of my local operators had a couple on its fleet until fairly recently. The NV200 Combi is the spiritual heir to the Serena – which was also derived from a light van. But it’s a good deal more advanced, especially thanks to its familiar 85PS 1.5-litre Renault dCi diesel engine, which gives claimed fuel consumption of 53.3mpg combined, as well as excellent low CO2 emissions of 139g/km, putting it VED band E.
NV200 Combi is in something of a class of its own. It’s panel-van based, but a lot more compact than other similar vehicles, such as the Hyundai i800. It has an extremely compact footprint – 4.4m long, 1.695m wide and 1.86m tall. That’s 725mm shorter than the Hyundai, and 220mm narrower. In fact the NV200 is closer in size to a car-derived van – it’s only 100mm longer than, say, a Fiat Doblo, and 137mm narrower. And unlike the Hyundai i800, NV200 is front-wheel drive, giving it excellent manoeuvrability and a low floor.
There’s a trade-off in space against the bigger Hyundai – in seven-seater mode, there’s a trade-off in luggage space. Nevertheless, with all the seats in place, the luggage area behind the third row is sufficient to hold two large suitcases, and there’s lots of space in five-seat mode – sufficient for five large suitcases when the third row of seats is folded away. This is a neat system - third row of seats comprises two individual seats that fold sideways and store against the side of the van. You can just fold one seat away, giving the option of six seats with decent luggage space.
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