Japanese manufacturers have excelled at microvans, as typified by offerings from Suzuki, Daihatsu and Honda, and been dominant among mono-box medium vans with the likes of the Toyota Hiace, Mitsubishi L300, Bedford (but also badged Isuzu) Midi and Nissan Vanette Cargo (marketed also as the LDV Cub), but have never really got into the mainstream. Only Toyota had tried over here with the Hiace Powervan, and good though it was, it never worried Ford and Volkswagen. Nissan is a truly global player, known in the UK for cars, 4x4s and pick-ups, but elsewhere in the world it has a large portfolio of goods vehicles and bus models, its diesel engines even powering large mobile cranes, one or two of which have sold in the UK. But it didn’t have a 3.5t van.

On 27 March 1999, the Renault-Nissan Alliance was signed, bringing about shared designs, components and technologies. That meant Nissan could use Renault’s excellent Master – already jointly developed with GM, which called its version the Vauxhall Movano – as a model for its own entrant into the sector.

Nissan’s Interstar features a 2.5-litre dCi powertrain available with three outputs: 100hp, 120hp and 150hp. Service intervals are infrequent at 20,000km or 30,000km depending on the engine, or every two years. In terms of safety, it offers ESP and ABS, automatic door locking and a speed limiter.

Nissan, Renault and Vauxhall all facelifted their models in 2006 to give the look seen here, with a revised front bumper for better cooling, front fog lights, and double overhead storage in the cab. There were three wheelbase lengths and three roof heights, with the variety of side door options and rear door configurations you would expect given that Renault has two generations of Master van behind it. In addition, Nissan’s Good To Go range included tippers, dropsides, box vans and fridge vans, available from stock through the manufacturer’s network of specialist CV dealers

Servicing is easy. Since this is a shared design, major components such as the engine, transmission, suspension, body panels and interior fittings are available through Renault and Vauxhall dealerships in addition to Nissan’s. However, the Interstar does have different equipment levels, and this can affect compatibility, so don’t make assumptions without checking.

On the reliability front, Vosa tells us of only one recall for the age of Interstar featured here. R/2009/143, dated 11 January 2010, relates to a fault that allows for the possibility that the “seat may detach”, and affects vehicles built from 22 February 2008 to 18 May 2009. It does not list specific VIN codes, suggesting it might only include specific derivatives – for example, models with optional components such as a height-adjustable seat. It won’t be a complex fix, so it’s worth checking with a Nissan dealer for the VIN codes involved once you have found the Interstar for you.


Second-hand buys

A good, used Interstar starts at around £3000, according to the WhatVan.co.uk used van locator. For a short-wheelbase 57-plate example with 180,00,000 miles it’s just £2995, while a medium-wheelbase mid-height roof model of the same year with 120,000 miles adds exactly a £1000 to that price. A slightly newer 59-plate SWB with half the mileage is £7500. We also found a tidy 59-plate for less than £8000 – any newer than that and you will be heading for £10k quite quickly.