Nissan Townstar review

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Breakdown cover from just £7.95 a month*. Plus up to £150 of driving savings!

Brilliant breakdown + serious savings

Nissan's Townstar compact van has an advanced feel and a very complete warranty. Jonathan Crouch drives it.

Ten Second Review

Operators of small vans don't usually care about the provenance of the designs they're presented with: only whether they're competitively priced, practically-shaped, capable of carrying stout loads and come supported by a peace of mind warranty. Nissan's Townstar seems to tick quite a few of those boxes. It combines Renault technology, sharp looks and strong after-sales support to create probably the best small van you've never heard of.


Nissan has all the right technology to produce sales-leading small van, but somehow never has. Models like the Kubistar and the NV250 were rare on British fleets. The NV200 did a little better, latterly in e-NV200 full-electric form, but it wasn't the breakthrough product Nissan's commercial vehicle arm had hoped for. This Townstar though, just might be. It shares an awful lot with its close cousins, the Renault Kangoo and the Mercedes Citan and, like those two small LCVs, can be had in both combustion and full-electric forms. Which means that the Townstar was able to replace the diesel NV250 and the electric e-NV200 models in one hit.

Obvious Stellantis Group rivals like the Peugeot Partner, the Citroen Berlingo, the Fiat Doblo and the Vauxhall Combo Cargo can offer similar powerplant flexibility. But they can't match this Nissan's long 5 year warranty. Nor can combustion segment rivals like the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo and the Ford Transit Connect. So this Townstar is worth a second look.

Driving Experience

The Townstar shares both its powertrains with its Renault Kangoo and Mercedes Citan donor models. For the first time in a small Nissan van of this sort, there is no diesel engine option. Instead, if you want a combustion-powered Townstar, you will need the 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol unit that puts out 130PS and 240Nm of torque. The company certainly ought to put a little more effort into promotion of this van in petrol form because it's actually quite a good little combustion package, with a 6-speed manual gearbox and a healthy 240Nm of torque, which eases you smoothly through the ratios on the way to an irrelevant top speed of 114mph.

The alternative is the full-electric Townstar, which has a 45kWh battery powered by an electric motor producing 122PS and 245Nm of torque. When fully charged, this variant can offer up to 183 miles of range (269 miles on the city cycle). That's around 45% more than the old e-NV200. The electric Townstar combines intelligent energy management and effective battery thermal cooling in one package.

On the road, the high-set gear lever falls easily to hand and is complemented by light, feel-less but fairly accurate steering, which has an even lighter 'Town' mode for easier urban use. The brakes are strong and ride quality's well-judged, but can get a little choppy when the vehicle's unladen, though it's better in longer wheelbase form. All models have great forward visibility courtesy of the extensive windscreen and truncated bonnet.

Design and Build

Downtown, this little Nissan should fit right in, its sharp front end looks reflecting the aesthetic cues of the company's Ariya full-electric car. The petrol-powered Townstar model looks a little different to the EV version because it requires a radiator grille to admit cooling air to the 1.3-litre petrol engine. This full-battery-powered model substitutes that with a front end blanking plate, an aerodynamic front shield incorporating a smart 'Kumiko' pattern and a central Nissan brand badge behind which resides the plug socket.

Take a seat inside and it feels pretty car-like, with a basic dashboard design that's user-friendly, though has lots of hard plastics, broken up by a faux-aluminium dashboard panel. A key change over the old NV250 model is that you can replace this single passenger seat with an optional two-person bench. Digital instruments haven't reached the combustion part of the van segment yet, but you get them on the EV version, though only with top-spec 'Tekna+' trim level, one that hardly any Townstar folk will choose. This features a 10-inch configurable screen: other versions of this Nissan have analogue gauges separated by a 4.2-inch TFT colour display. The central infotainment monitor is an 8-inch 'Colour Touchscreen Audio System' set-up straight from the Renault parts bin and fitted to all Townstars bar those with the meanest standard of trim. Only the top two spec levels though, get this display fitted out with navigation. Though it's disappointing that there's no provision for a flap into the cargo area, you'll be impressed by the multitude of cab stowage areas, which include an upper shelf, big door bins and a useful lidded cubby built into the instrument binnacle top.

Market and Model

There are two Townstar panel van body lengths - L1 and L2. The 1.3-litre petrol-powered Townstar is priced from around £20,000 excluding VAT. You'll obviously need more if you want the full-electric Townstar EV model - expect to pay around £30,000 excluding VAT for that (after you've taken into account the £2,500 government grant), quite a bit more than the outgoing e-NV200. That's due to this new model's more sophisticated battery, motor and charging capabilities, as well as all its technological improvements. With both powertrains, there are four trim levels - 'Visia', 'Acenta', 'Tekna' and 'Tekna+'. Even base 'Visia' spec gives you LED headlights, air conditioning., heated mirrors and remote central locking.

The Townstar is slightly more expensive than some of its obvious rivals, but you do get the potential for a lot more safety kit, including (with top-spec 'Tekna+' trim) features like Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Keeping Assistance and a 360-degree camera view system. This is also one of the first vans to be available with any kind of autonomous driving capability, the optional ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system, which is fitted to the 'Tekna+'-spec Townstar EV and is able to control the van's speed and road placement during highway driving, while allowing the vehicle to autonomously slow to a stop and accelerate off again following the vehicle ahead.

Practicalities and Costs

There are two Townstar body lengths, short L1 and long wheelbase L2. The L1 can carry up to 3.3m3 (a lot less than the 4.2m3 of its NV200 predecessor), but if you stretch to the L2 Townstar model, you can boost that to 4.3m3 of load space. As for payload, well if that's important to you, then you might want to think twice about this EV electric version because it's slightly restricted there - with the 'L1' standard body shape to 500kgs (compared to 689kgs in the combustion version). An 'L2' long wheelbase Townstar EV could carry up to 702kgs (compared to up to 770kg in the combustion version). With either powertrain, you'll be able to tow up to 1,500kg.

Both body shapes can squeeze in a pair of standard Euro pallets thanks to the generous 1,248mm width between the wheel arches that all Townstars share - it's 1,570mm from wall to wall. The rear entrance aperture is 1,115mm tall by 1,256mm wide (narrowing to 1,196mm just above the tail lights). The loading length is 1,810mm in the 'L1' version - or 2,230mm with the 'L2' body shape (which has a slightly lower loading sill height of 613mm).

The side door width aperture on the L1 model is 615mm; it's 831mm on the L2 model, that latter width allowing that L2 variant to admit a Euro pallet through the side door. In both cases, the aperture height is 1,060mm.

If running costs are key, you're likely to want to look at the full-electric version. We gave you the range figure for that in our 'Driving' section - 183 miles - which is vastly more than was possible from previous e-NV200 model. Electric versions of the Townstar come with an 11kW (Visia grade) or 22kW AC (Acenta grade upwards) on-board charging system. As with this model's e-NV200 predecessor, a DC rapid charging connector is standard from Acenta grade, which can DC recharge the battery from 0% to 80% in a little under 40 minutes. A 7.4kW garage wallbox will replenish the battery in 7 hours.


Nissan is going to have to work hard to get this Townstar on to business choice lists but if it can - and companies can be persuaded to try it - the sales proposition here looks strong. Payload, carriage capacity and, in the electric model, driving range, all look very class competitive and that long 5 year warranty is a clever additional incentive for the Japanese brand to throw into the mix.

On top of that, the Townstar looks quite sharp and is backed by a dealer network more eager than most competitor brands to make a good impression on the van buying community. It all adds up to a proposition that might reward those prepared to look beyond the obvious segment candidates in their search for a small LCV.

RAC Breakdown Cover

Join the RAC and get Breakdown Cover. Our patrols fix most breakdowns on the spot, with repairs done in just 30 minutes on average.

RAC Breakdown Cover
RAC Breakdown Cover

^For 1 nominated vehicle when added to Extra or Complete cover. New customers only. Ends 08/12/23. *New, single vehicle-based cover. £7.95 a month for Basic cover.