Nissan's NV300 is a mid-sized van that offers a very complete all-round package. Jonathan Crouch checks it out.
Ten Second Review
Nissan's medium-sized van is the NV300, the Japanese brand's version of a design also shared with Vauxhall and Renault. It's very competitive in terms of efficiency and carriage capacity and differentiates itself from its rivals by offering a unique-in-segment five year / 100,000 mile warranty.
If your business is searching for a medium-sized light van, then you're certainly not short of choice. Ford's Transit Custom, Volkswagen's Transporter and Mercedes' Vito may all be options that spring to mind, though in truth, these stand-alone models account for a relatively small slice of the European market for mid-range LCVs of this kind. No, the biggest sales in this segment are spread across just two main designs shared by a variety of manufacturers. First there's the model badged variously as either a Citroen Dispatch, a Peugeot Expert, a Toyota Proace or a Fiat Talento. And up against it is the design that takes nearly 30% of the European market in this segment, the vehicle we're looking at here, badged as either a Vauxhall Vivaro, a Renault Trafic or, as in this case, a Nissan NV300. The Nissan is less familiar than its two design stablemates on British roads, despite the fact that it's priced sharply and offers a longer warranty. How much else has it to offer today's demanding operators? Let's find out.
Four engine options are offered on the NV300. All use Nissan's trusted 1.6-litre dCi diesel engine - best known from the brand's Qashqai and X-Trail crossovers - with power outputs of 95hp, 120hp, 125hp and 145hp. The two former are single turbo, while the latter pair are twin turbo. All are mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Not all engines are available with all body styles. Renault claims that these power and torque figures are what you would have previously expected from a 2.0-litre engine in this class. Nissan reckons that this NV300 will feel pretty much like a large MPV to drive and the driving position's as commanding as you would expect. Big door mirrors with convex surfacing on their lower and outer edges are present and correct to help with manoeuvring that can be aided by the neat wide angle mirror fitted to the back of the passenger sunvisor. Further embellishments intended to help you avoid urban scrapes include options like parking sensors and two kinds of rear view camera. This NV300 should prove to be a tough workhorse whatever its working conditions. Maybe that'll involve towing. If so, this vehicle's able, when equipped with a towing hitch, to pull a 750kg unbraked trailer and up to 2,000kg for a braked unit.
Design and Build
We're very familiar with this design now, though more so when it bears either a Renault or a Vauxhall badge. But it still has something of an avant garde look that works well with Nissan's distinctive 'V-motion' front grille. The outside of the NV300 isn't the big story here though. We reckon users will really like the cabin. Gone are the expanses of uninspiring grey plastics you used to get on this model's Primastar predecessor. Instead, it's much more like a modern People Carrier's interior, with higher-end versions getting a chromed console surround, along with a chromed gear lever knob and chrome-finished front speaker trims, plus lidded dashboard stowage and reasonably high quality upholstery. Much improved seats offer more shape and higher density foam padding. The front bench seat incorporates lateral strengthening for both the seat cushions and passenger seat backs. Comfort is further enhanced by the inclusion of an armrest built into the door panel. Compared with the old Primastar, the driver's seat cushion has been lowered by 36mm, while the seat back is more reclined in order to get closer to the sort of driving position associated with MPVs. Combined with the height and reach-adjustable steering wheel, the number of ways the seat can be adjusted (height, fore-aft and seat back angle) enables the driver to find the most comfortable position.
Market and Model
The NV300 is a flexible and highly adaptable LCV platform, with potentially diverse use catered for by four sizes of panel van (L1H1, L1H2, L2H1, L2H2), two sizes of six-seater crew van (L1H1, L2H1) plus a floor cab variant (L2H1). Numerous rear tailgate and side door combinations - solid or glazed - are available for extra flexibility. For users who need space for passengers, there are two variants of the NV300 Combi (L1H1, L2H1), providing seating for up to nine people. Panel van pricing sits in the usual £20,000 to £30,000 ex vat bracket common to this class of mid-sized LCV and is, inevitably, very similar to that of design stablemates Vauxhall's Vivaro and Renault's Trafic. Factory-fitted protective wooden trim and LED roof lights are available, along with versatile interior racking, solid and glazed body-coloured bulkheads and up to 20 interior hooks for securing cargo. A tow ball with electric hook-up is on the options list, as is Trailer Sway Mitigation. For business customers with more bespoke LCV needs, the NV300 floor cab provides the perfect base for conversions across a wide range of industries. From camper vans and refrigerated transport to tipper trucks and multimedia broadcast units, versatility should be assured.
Practicalities and Costs
The NV300 panel van is offered in two lengths. The standard L1 configuration measures 4,998mm from stem to stern, with the L2 breaking the tape at 5,398mm. There are also two roof heights to choose from. Compared to its Primastar predecessor, you get an extra 100mm interior load length and cargo capacity ranges between 5.2 and 8.6 cubic metres. Even in the smallest L1 model, you can carry up to three standard Europallets and accommodate 10 x 2.5-metre plasterboard sheets. Nissan has also been smart about accommodating even longer loads too, with a flap that extends through the bulkhead and below the front seats to allow up to 2.95m long items. Need even more length? Then simply open a secondary flap that extends into the front footwell, allowing up to 3.2m long items to be taken on board. Of course, you could always just opt for the longer L2 model with its cavernous 4.15m load length. Fuel economy is also rated as amongst the best in class, the entry-level NV300 registering around 50mpg on the combined cycle. A thoughtful touch is the 'Eco Mode' you can select by pressing this button by the gearstick. This restricts the pulling power of the engine and promotes greater efficiency. We shouldn't forgot what is possibly this model's strongest selling point either, the five year /100,000 mile warranty that's far better than the packages rivals offer. [[[ REPLACE ME ]]]
This NV300 van certainly looks like a decent step forward over its Primastar predecessor. We like the far more efficient engines, the more spacious load bay, the hugely practical cab and the better quality throughout. But should you select it with a Nissan badge rather than from a Renault or a Vauxhall showroom? Aggressive pricing matched by a superior class-leading warranty suggests that perhaps you should. A tempting package then, for cost-conscious business buyers shopping in this sector. It won't be the first contender you think of in this segment but it remains one of the more sensible choices you could make.