Nissan’s range of vans had traditionally been designed for Japanese domestic use and surrounding markets. The likes of the Urvan and Vanette, proved too small and Japanese 6.2-tonne class chassis too specialised to make any inroads here. A straightforward cavernous 3.5-tonner was needed. What better than sister company Renault’s Master? Well-respected, tough and with great engines, the addition of a Nissan badge gave us the Interstar, and Nissan a whole new sector. By 2011, the NV400 – as Nissan went numeric on its models – was established. It had a quick facelift in 2014 and more substantial revision in 2019 with upgraded engines, a new facia and improved equipment and safety levels. Its basis may be quite old now, but in anyone’s book the Master was always a serious contender for topping the 3.5-tonne class. Nissan put more than its badge on the grille. A five year 100,000 miles warranty – faith in Japanese build quality – was applied to this French van, but Renault did not offer it.

However, what the Master offers in spades, the Nissan mimics; huge choice. Not in engine size, all have the proven 2.3-litre common-rail diesel, with twin turbos, but certainly in output. The front-wheel drive version can have 135hp, 150hp or 180hp versions with torque ratings of 360Nm, 385Nm and 400Nm respectively. All have a slick six-speed manual gearbox as standard with a rather tardy automated version offered on 150hp and 180hp versions. If you must have two pedals it’s fine but it shifts slowly and manoeuvres lumpily. 

The NV400 also offers two rear-drive options at 145hp/360Nm and 165hp/380Nm. Intended for heavy duty work, these offer slightly less payload and a higher load floor, but drive just as well in manual-only guise. Myriad body combinations are available with an external width of 2,470mm, overall lengths from 5,050mm to 6,850mm and heights of 2,310mm to 2,745mm. These give four load lengths of; 2,580mm (L1) 3,080mm (L2), 3,730mm (L3) and 4,380mm (L4). The L4 is rear-drive only. Three internal heights of 1,700mm, 1,895mm and 2,145mm combine with load bay widths of 1,765mm at most and a between-arches pinch of 1,380mm (1,085mm with twin-rear wheels) they give load capacities from 7.8 to 15.8m3. Payloads for the 3.5-tonne panel van max out at 1,565Kgs but the rear-drive twin-wheel chassis is rated to 4.5-tonnes GVW, intended more for dropside or tipper body applications. It’s subjective, but we found more NV400 tippers on the market than we’d expect for Masters or Movanos. Maybe it’s a carry-over from that darling of the building trade, the Cabstar.

The cab is spacious, visibility is excellent and with huge mirrors judging the extremity of even the L4 is easy. Plenty of stowage space, the expectedly excellent (Renault) seats and decent kit levels in the Tekna versions. Refinement and noise levels show its true age now, but good engines, huge capacities and wide body choices more then make up for that. It’s a lot of van for the money.

Five best options

1) 180bhp engine

2) Tekna trim

3) Tekna+ trim

4) 165 bhp RWD

5) L3H3

Five best avoided

1) 135hp engine

2) Automated transmission

3) Visia trim

4) Acenta trim

5) L1H1

Second-hand buys 





Price exVAT

L2H2 33 SE FWD e 





L2H2 33 SE FWD  





L2H2 35 Tekna FWD 





L1H1 33 Acenta FWD 





L2H2 33 Acenta FWD