The Nissan NV200 is an innovative, compact urban van which beats the opposition hands down with its surprisingly large load volume and payload, car like refinement and carefully thought-through ergonomics. Powered by two versions of Renault’s 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine, the NV200 is highly manoeuvrable and relatively frugal. The NV200 is Nissan's own work and is a van designed to set new standards for interior space, comfort and practicality. It's certainly an impressive vehicle and its light steering and tight turning circle mean that it's well suited to town driving, making it ideal for courier drops. It's not out of its depth on the motorway either.
At a glance
Admittedly very Japanese-looking, the NV200 uses some innovative packaging ideas to create what is possibly the largest and most practical cargo area of its class. Although a little under 4.4m in overall length, the NV200 nevertheless has a load bay that’s more than 2m long (2040mm). With front-wheel drive and the adoption of a highly compact rear suspension design, the NV200 can swallow two standard Euro pallets in its cargo area at a time. At 1.84m high, the NV200 is no taller than its rivals while, at 520mm from ground level, the floor itself benefits from being the lowest in class to ease loading, helping to boost the cargo volume to 4.1 cu. m, with a maximum pay load of 771kg.
Engines and spec.
Nissan has added more grunt to its Transit-sized van thanks to an efficient new engine and new six-speed manual gearbox. The NV200 gets a new, more powerful version of its 1.5-litre diesel engine. Making 108bhp, it joins the 87bhp engine currently available and emits 139g/km, just 2g/km of CO2 more than the lower-powered unit.
The engine is mated to a slick gearbox, which is smooth and easy to use. Top speed for the van has increased by 1mph to 99mph, while the rest of the van’s underpinnings remain the same. You can opt for this new engine on all except the bottom spec E trim of the NV200.
There have also been several upgrades to each spec level: Bluetooth hands-free is now standard on all trim levels, while SE trim now gets a rear-view camera. Furthermore, there is a new trim pack for those wanting even more equipment. The HI-TECH option pack includes air con and keyless entry.
At the wheel
Inside, the NV200 has a feeling of quality, with many parts of the cabin shared across other Nissan car models - especially the stereo system - meaning it's refined and modern. A high and upright seating position makes visibility very good, while the seats offer plenty of support making it comfortable for long journeys. To create more space in the cockpit, the gear lever extends from the two-tone, wrap-around centre console, while above the gear lever the centre section houses the heating and ventilation controls and the double DIN radio slot. Surprisingly, the version we tested did not come with air conditioning.
There is also plenty of usable storage space and sensibly positioned cubby holes, which makes the NV200 feel as though it was designed by a van driver rather than just for a driver. Both the driver and passenger get a cup holder on the dash as well as in the central console, while there is a good-sized dash-top cubby - ideal for keeping paperwork handy - plus extra hidden stowage between the two seats. The glove-box is also a good size but has no lid, meaning anything inside is left on display, and the door pockets are also very narrow. However, there is a drawer under the driver's seat to keep more important things hidden from view. On the debit side, the electric window switches are mounted on a plastic pod which digs into the side of the driver’s or passenger’s knee.
Load space and practicality
The NV200’s big strong point is its load space, particularly in relation to its compact external dimensions. The boxy design enables 4.2 cubic metres of volume in the rear with a payload capacity of 739kg. The compact van has room for two Europallets and its tall roof allows bulky loads up to 1.36 metres in height to be carried. The basic E grade NV200 comes with a tubular bulkhead behind the driver, while SE and N-TEC versions have a full-steel bulkhead. A bulkhead with a window is available as an option. All NV200 vans come with six load lashing points in the floor and twin sliding side doors, making it easy to get at the load from either side of the vehicle. Nissan offers a host of accessories for the load bay of the NV200, including body side mouldings and wheel arch protection.
On the road
The NV200 is a relatively slim, compact van that runs on unusually small wheels for improved manoeuvrability around town. The 1.5 dCi 85 bhp diesel engine comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, while the 110bhp engine has an extra forward gear, offering six-speeds for slightly more relaxed cruising. There's no automatic transmission option, though both engines have enough power to drive the van forward with the traffic. Our test vehicle came with the commonly-used 85bhp unit and we found that this engine performs well with a good amount of low down power and a smooth delivery, plus it is economical and refined. Light steering and a precise five-speed gearbox make the NV200 ideal for driving in built up areas and narrow streets, while it also performs well on windy roads with neat and controlled cornering. It's extremely quiet on the road with very little wind and engine noise, even at higher speeds.
We were impressed with the Nissan NV200 and liked the thoughtful approach taken by the manufacturer to produce an outstanding vehicle, purposely designed with the driver and operator firmly in mind. Although it’s not going to win any awards for its rather odd styling, there is no denying that the NV200 is an interesting concept. The NV200 feels well built and is unlikely to let you down, with the interior being rugged enough to withstand daily bumps and scrapes.
Our man with a van
Motoring journalist Adrian Foster has been commissioned to write impartial van and pick up reviews for our website, specifically to help with your decision making process. We have provided him with a van and the spec and nothing more, so you can rely on his views being real and honest.
Adrian began his career in the motor retail industry with Perry’s Group before turning his hand to motoring journalism. He launched the Drivelines motoring press agency as a means of providing high quality journalism on new cars, commercial vehicles, motorsport and the motor industry at large.