When it comes to mission statements, they don’t get more ambitious than that of Nissan: “We aim to be the world’s leading LCV manufacturer”.
Bearing in mind that currently Nissan stands at number 11 in the UK sales chart and also bearing in mind that its alliance partner Renault is number one seller across Europe, such a statement could be construed by sceptics as more of a dream than a business plan.
But dream or not, Nissan is making some remarkable steps in the right direction of late.
Look at the facts: until recently, the Japanese manufacturer’s range was mostly made up of rebadged Renaults.
Kangoo became Kubistar, Trafic became Primastar and Master was rebadged as Interstar.
In the last couple of years, Nissan has gradually been setting up a range of its own so now instead of Kubistar we have NV200, a separate model in its own right.
Now Interstar has been replaced by the van on test here, the NV400 (although to be fair it’s still a Master at heart).
And in 2013, there will be an electric NV200 to join the array of zero emission LCVs.
Add to this a renewed focus on fleet sales which has seen the manufacturer open 57 business centres offering the kind of extras that fleet buyers demand nowadays and we begin to see a relatively new credible van fleet manufacturer emerging.
And there’s another thing that can’t be gainsaid as well – Nissan has a range of commercial vehicles that no other manufacturer offers, not even number one seller Ford.
There’s NV200, Primastar, NV400, Navara and Cabstar, which should cover just about every light commercial fleet need.
So exactly what is on offer with NV400?
For the first time, both front and rear-wheel drive versions will be offered and gross vehicle weights will 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 will be offered – E and SE.
The lower grade has ABS brakes with EBD, driver airbag and power windows while SE adds ESC stability control, remote central locking, rear parking sensors, power mirrors.
Nissan expects the lion’s share of sales to be the SE variant.
Under the bonnet goes a brand new 2.3-litre Euro V compliant common rail diesel powerplant to replace the Interstar’s 2.5-litre engine, offering 100bhp, 125bhp and 150bhp.