First drive: Nissan NV400 dropside


Nissan has just expanded its fleet armoury with the addition of a new dropside truck, which is derived from the NV400 panel van.

It may at first appear to be a rather curious addition to the family as Nissan already offers the Cabstar, which does the same job and is a good little lorry.

But anyone who has driven a Cabstar will concede that, capable as it is, it can be a pretty uncomfortable place to spend a day.

The NV400 dropside, on the other hand, offers all the creature comforts of today’s modern panel vans, while managing to lug 100kg or so more cargo around than the Cabstar in the rear.

This new offering was first revealed at the CV Show in April and is part of a concerted effort by the Japanese manufacturer to distance itself from its Renault parent in the commercial vehicles it makes.

Until a couple of years ago, all Nissan’s vans apart from Navara and Cabstar were rebadged Renaults. But now we have the NV200 small van which is pure Nissan and the NV400 which is a heavily reworked version of the Renault Master.

You’ll see from the pictures that this vehicle isn’t recognisable in the slightest as the French product.

The dropside is available in a number of versions, offering single and double-cabs, front- and rear-wheel drive and tippers.

Our test model is the single cab front wheel drive model in SE spec, weighing in at £24,056 ex-VAT.

Under the bonnet is a 2.3-litre common rail turbodiesel unit offering 125bhp and a meaty 228lb-ft of torque at a low 1,250rpm, plenty to pull the maximum payload of 1,462kg. In the rear the NV400 has a large loadbed measuring 3,230mm by 2,100mm.

There’s plenty of standard specification. Included in the basic price is remote central locking, ABS, electronic stability control to prevent sideways skids, electric windows and mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity and cruise control.

Because the vehicle is built by Nissan and converted afterwards, no fuel and CO2 figures are available.

Behind the wheel

Conversions are becoming an ever more important part of life for van manufacturers.

Most have now realised that a lot of fleets want solus deals – say 50 dropsides, 60 small vans and 100 large panel vans – and if the dealer can’t offer all at once in a single package, the customer is likely to look elsewhere.

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.