NV200 Combi 1.5dCi SE 7-seat
is probably the last emotion
feel if your mate says he owns
a Nissan NV. Lets be honest here
NV200 van-turned-MPV is
the equivalent of a cardboard box:
functional, plain and with all the
design flair of something created
entirely by Etch-a-Sketch...
THIS IS UTILITY MOTORING AT ITS FINEST, and I don't mean that in a disparaging
way. While car manufacturers fall over themselves to conjure up the latest piece
of ultra-sophisticated technology, this seven-seater Nissan MPV harks back to
a simpler age.
Here's a list of things the NV200 SE doesn't have: opening rear windows, any
airbags other than the two up front; stability control, cruise control, SatNav,
USB sockets, sunroof, and anything 'clever' in the rear (there are just seats;
nothing else). And there's only one optional extra: metallic paint.
Following the pattern, there's just one diesel engine on offer. With 1,461cc
and only 89bhp pulling a car that weighs 1,325kg, you might think that the NV200
would be overwhelmed.
a great credit to Nissan that it is, in fact, very much not overwhelmed. Thank
the chunky turbocharger for that: it whistles away to deliver a healthy slug
of torque at revs as low as 1,200rpm, so you never feel flat. Occasionally you
have to change down gear to maintain progress but I was genuinely surprised
at how eager it feels.
The NV200s chunky
away to deliver a healthy
slug of torque at revs as
low as 1,200rpm, so you
never feel flat...
The five-speed manual gearbox isn't the last word in sophistication (much like
every other aspect of the NV200, in fact) but it works fine and the lever is
decently placed. There's a very upright, van-like feel to the driving position
(not too surprising given the NV is basically a van), so long journeys can be
a bit taxing, especially as the seats are quite hard. As, too, is every plastic
surface inside the cabin.
The NV200 is actually very easy to manoeuvre, partly because of its very tight
turning circle, partly because of its very good visibility and partly because
you get a reversing camera as standard. This forms part of a tiny but very useful
LCD screen down on the right-hand side of the dash, which also doubles up as
the trip computer.
Nor is this a cumbersome beast. It measures a mere 4,400mm long that's
shorter than a Nissan Qashqai and only 1,695mm wide, so placing it on
the road is a doddle.
I can't remember the last time I drove a car with wheels as small as 14 inches
in diameter. So many modern cars are now fitted with wheels up to and beyond
20 inches that, next to them, driving a 14-incher is a bit of revelation. While
the tall 70-profile tyres make for a wallowy handling experience, they do wonders
for the ride quality. Oh the sacrifices modern drivers make in search of tasty-looking
NV200 is all about carrying capacity, of course. And in this department, it
may well finally be the envy of your mates. Even with all seven seats in place,
there's still a very decent amount of space.
The NV200 does what
it says on the tin. A plain
tin it may be, but if you
need to transport seven
people with any sort
of regularity, this is just
about the cheapest way
to do it...
Fold (or remove) the rearmost seats and you have enough room for a full-on camping
trip for five. Remove all five rear seats (fairly easy to do) and you can have
a mini-festival in the back.
The official average fuel consumption is 53.3mpg. Unlike so many claims, this
figure is actually achievable: while I averaged 45mpg on a long motorway run,
I got an indicated 55mpg on a gentler cross-country trip. That's better than
almost any other seven-seater, and way better than, say, the 49mpg average I've
just got in the new Toyota Prius+ hybrid seven-seater.
In short, the NV200 does what it says on the tin. A plain tin it may be, but
if you need to transport seven people with any sort of regularity, this is just
about the cheapest way to do it, with prices starting at under £19,000. Try
buying a Ford S-Max for anything like that. Chris Rees
Nissan NV200 Combi 1.5dCi SE 7-seat | £18,973
Maximum speed: 98mph | 0-62mph: 13 seconds | Overall test MPG: 53.3mpg
Power: 89bhp | Torque: 148lb ft | CO2 138g/km