If you are a regular reader of Fleet Van you’ll probably already be well aware of the attributes of Nissan’s new heavy panel van the NV400.
Nissan’s van sales rocketed by 74% in 2011 and with this new van, the Japanese firm aims to make its presence felt even more in the UK fleet market in 2012 (see the interview on page 24).
Nissan has benefited from its alliance with Renault – most of its vans have traditionally been re-badged versions from its parent company. But in recent years it has attempted to create an individual brand identity.
The NV200 was an in-house development and, while the NV400 shares platform and powertrain with the Renault Master, Nissan has wrapped the shell in its own style: it’s had the Nissan treatment.
The NV400’s ‘face’ was created at Nissan Design Europe (NDE) in Paddington and engineered by Nissan in Bedfordshire. It gives the van a distinctive look.
For the first time, both front and rear-wheel drive versions are available and gross vehicle weights go up to 4.5 tonnes.
There are three wheelbases and three roof heights and the usual dazzling array of optional body versions. Load volumes go from 8.0 cubic metres to 17.0 cubic metres while payloads range from 994kg to 2,254kg.
Two grades are on offered – E and SE. The lower grade has ABS brakes with EBD, driver airbag and power windows while SE adds electronic stability control, remote central locking, rear parking sensors and power mirrors.
Under the bonnet goes a brand new 2.3-litre Euro V compliant common rail diesel powerplant to replace the old Interstar’s 2.5-litre engine, offering 100bhp, 125bhp and 150bhp.
Our test model is the mid-range 125bhp version, which weighs in at £23,690 ex-VAT. It’s front-wheel drive and in medium wheelbase, medium roof format.
In SE spec, standard features include ESC and rear parking sensors and as extras chose given metallic paint at £350, together with a natty built-in TomTom sat-nav unit at £650.
Behind the wheel
We’d already driven the NV400 in Marbella, but great left-hand drive versions don’t always translate into brilliant right hookers, a bit like French wine turning sour on its trip across the briney.
However, in this case the NV400 is just as good here as it is there – and I must say we all really did take a shine to Nissan’s latest during our test week.
It’s hats off to the designers who have crafted this new front end – and it stands out as a better looking van than its twin brothers the Renault Master and Vauxhall Movano in our eyes.
In the cab, the seats are big, supportive and comfortable and we like the fact that this vehicle feels like a big van, with the steering wheel large and angled. Some other manufacturers have tried to make their panel vans feel like big cars but we prefer a ‘chunkier’ driving experience.
We really like the TomTom unit that’s built in to the roof of the cab and means you don’t have to look down to see it. However, we did note that on the Renault Master this unit is given away free. We also like the fact that a rear parking sensor is standard.
However, it’s disappointing to see that as with Renault and Vauxhall, ESC isn’t a standard fitment across the range – you only get it on SE models here.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, Volkswagen Crafter, Iveco Daily and Ford Transit manage to give it away free, so we don’t see why Nissan shouldn’t too.
The power unit is a Renault one which you’ll find in all sorts of cars and vans on the roads nowadays and is rock solid and reliable. It fires quietly and smoothly and gives plenty of oomph when needed.
With vehicles like this on offer, Nissan can only add to its fleet credentials. The entry model gets the thumbs-down, though, due to that lack of standard ESC.