Nissan’s intention is to move away from re-badging the products if its Alliance partner, Renault, and market its own range of light commercials in Europe.
The first of the new LCVs to reach these shores is the front-wheel drive NV200 light van which replaces the previous Kangoo-based Kubistar. It gets its power from a 86hp Renault 1.5dCi turbodiesel which develops peak torque of 200Nm at 2,000rpm. The quoted CO2 output figure is 137g/km. There are plans to add a 106hp version of the engine some time in 2010.
A five-speed manual gearbox is standard — there is currently no semi-auto option — brakes are discs at the front, drums at the rear — ABS is standard — and the steering has electric power assistance.
The engine copes well, despite not being very powerful, and there is an inherent refinement to the drivetrain. Handling is well up to standard and the tight 10.6m turning circle is a boon in town.
The only slight downside is the ride which can be nervous at times, mainly thanks to the fitment of 14in wheels. The small wheels, however, do contribute to a low rear loading height of 524mm. The 4.2m3 load area is accessed via twin side-hinged asymmetrical rear doors and there’s a nearside sliding side door provided.
With a load length of 2,040mm, a width of 1,220mm between the wheel boxes and a height of 1,358mm, NV200’s load potential belies it’s footprint on the road. Gross payload is 752kg.
Climbing in and out of the cab causes no problems thanks to the natural height of the seats, which are pretty supportive, by the way. The driving position is good, the gearchange is dash-mounted, there are plenty of storage facilities and the overall spec is good in either E or SE trim.
Servicing is required every 12,500 miles and the warranty is three years/100,000 miles.
NV200 has a small-footprint, but a surprising load-carrying ability and is our Van of the Year for 2010.