Nissan NV200 Review – Hidden Gem?
I had the van on hire for 3 days, this is my Nissan NV200 review.
At a glance
Driving Position & Visibility
Seat & Steering Wheel Wear
Nissan NV200 – Whats covered in this review?
The interior, exterior, and the mechanicals.
Specifically on the interior, the materials, the features and toys, the seats, comfort in general, visibility, storage, durability
For the exterior I touch on loading, access, looks and general quality.
Mechanical section looks at fuel economy, engine power and delivery, steering feel, build quality, driveline/gearbox/clutch performance, “characteristics”, driving dynamics, brakes, ride quality, driving experience in general
Nissan NV200 Review – The basics
The model I had was the 1.5 DCI version, K9K engine code. It was actually specced as a 7 seater mini bus but the rental company, Avance in Thessaloniki, removed the seats so we could use it as a van. This meant the NV200 had windows all round and carpet in the back which must have made things quieter. No bad thing.
It had 84,000 kms and I would guess it was three years old.
NV200 Review – Interior
Decent enough lateral support but the padding in the seat has been compromised by cost cutting (a recurring theme). Quite hard and unforgiving, after about an hour the discomfort starts to creep in. I have complained about the quality of the seats used in the MK1 Focus but after sitting in the NV200, the Focus seats seem palatial.
In a van comfortable seats are a must have (for me). Having said that, the position itself was fine, I didn’t feel the need to adjust the recline of the seat or the position of the steering wheel.
AutoExpress have said the NV200 is not as comfortable as the Doblo or the Transit Connect and I am sure they are right but I would counter by saying the NV200 is a van whereas the Doblo and the Connect are basically cars.
For a van, the interior quality was decent, sure the plastics are a bit cheap but which van doesn’t have cheap plastics?
Generally though it was more than acceptable.
The driver seat was already starting to fray on the bolster and the steering wheel was also looking worse for wear. Considering the low mileage this is a concern if you are wanting to keep an NV200 into big KMs and/or for a few years.
Storage was not an issue. Cup holders for driver and passenger and they were located in excellent positions. You weren’t reaching down trying to find your drink.
Also cubby holes in the centre of the dash for papers and what not. But no storage in the ceiling. All-in-all there was enough storage especially when you include the door bins.
Sound was decent enough, it had AUX input, USB, Bluetooth and a CD player, also steering wheel controls. The major problem with the stereo was that the screen packed up when it got hot. But probably easy enough to pick up and aftermarket unit.
A nice touch and easy to use. I didn’t use it much but when I did it worked perfectly. No radar cruise control.
Generally the dashboard was cheap. Speedo was huge but rev counter, fuel gauge, driving options, trip computer, fuel economy etc all tucked into a tiny LCD display on the bottom right of the speedo making them very hard to read. Hard to see the reasoning for this, LCDs cost pennies and considering how often the driver will be looking at it, seems a bit tight not to splash out on a bigger more prominent unit, considering the small extra expense.
Nissan NV200 Review – Exterior
It looks like a narrow vehicle and it probably is but when you sit inside it feels normal.
The driving position is higher than it looks. Easily higher than a Qashqai for example. This gives excellent visibility over other traffics. On the subject of visibility, not once did I think that the A Pillar was obstructing my view for example. No parking sensors but it was by no means an act of luck parking it, I had a good idea of where the rear of the van was.
Wheels look a bit small for the size of the van but that is subjective. Also you could argue it rides a bit high but again, subjective.
Mirrors were a great size, not too big not too small and could be electrically adjusted to just where you want them. Again, huge windscreen, view out the front was excellent.
Felt like good quality catches on all the doors, Nissan didn’t cheap out here. Loading height not too tall but not super low either. Rear doors open to almost 180 degrees if you disengage the hinge limiters.
This particular example had side load doors on both sides. In short loading easy.
Nissan NV200 Review – Mechanicals
One of the first thing that struck me when driving the van was how flimsy it felt. To give some examples.
Noisy suspension. All sorts of light bangs and noises coming from what sounded like the rear suspension when the NV200 was unloaded. Disconcerting at first but we got used to it. When there was some weight in the back the noises stopped.
Shimmy through the seats. Going over sharp bumps the seats literally shimmy with the chassis. Like they were mounted on a tightly wound guitar string. It didn’t happen all the time and less noticeable when loaded but disconcerting to start with but we got used to it.
This was another example of the van being built down to a cost. Perhaps having two sliding doors was the issue but either way, the shell of the van seemed quite flexible when unloaded.
Not bad at all, for sure I have driven new cars with much less steering feel than the NV200. Perfectly acceptable and I always felt I knew how much grip there was. And generally, for a van, it had good cornering limits, no complaints here in the handling department. Absolutely acceptable and dare I say fun. I don’t think this is a van someone will get bored or dislike driving.
Perhaps there is a weakness here but I also have to say that the tyres on this rental NV200 were the cheapest of the cheap. The brakes were snatchy at the top of the travel (what new vehicle doesn’t have this) but you got used to it and could modulate their power. If you did need to stop quickly they were there for you but the tyres did give up too easily.
A diesel but it didn’t sound agricultural, it sounded like a modern diesel so not unpleasant.
Power/acceleration was good, especially when it was unloaded. Not surprisingly fast but fast enough to keep up with the traffic and you didn’t need to rag it to get up to speed. Loaded of course it was slower but generally it met the minimum acceptable level of power.
Clutch on this NV200 was how to say? Elastic and snatchy at the same time? The pedal was super high so the clutch was probably on it’s way out (a surprise with such low miles) maybe the clutch engagement is more gradual when they are new. Either way it took a bit of getting used to.
Gear lever was mounted nicely on the dash. Much better than being mounted on the floor. But the feel was horrendous compared to a car. Not inaccurate, not sloppy, you could just feel a load of mechanisms between your hand and the gearbox. It was accurate enough and went into gear well enough its just the process felt horrible.
We drove it on motorways, mountains, a-roads, b-roads and in the city. On average we were getting around 7 litres per 100km. For the size of the van and the way it was driven, I think this is reasonable.
Nissan NV200 Review – Summary
You can tell the NV200 has been built down to a price. Nothing wrong with that but there were a couple of areas which made the cost cutting far too obvious and were uneccessary.
The most obvious bad choice of cost cutting is the dash. The LCD display is an absolute joke.
Other areas of obvious cost cutting were the seat fabrics and steering wheel. These were already starting to disintegrate at 84,000 kms which for a van is nothing.
Apart from that, if you bought one new for 19,000 I think the price was okay but perhaps 17K would have been more reflective of the final product.
The future of the NV200
Nissan have replaced the NV200 with the NV250, the NV250 being something like the Fiat Doblo and Ford Transit Connect and here I think the world has lost something. With the NV200 you got the van experience ie super excellent visibility from the high up driving position but with a small footprint on the road.
I feel Nissan has lost something by joining the car-van crowd.
Would I recommend the NV200?
If you are covering mega miles I would probably say get something that is more comfortable, if I were doing 300 miles a day I think the NV200 would wear me out. If on the other hand you are in and around town with the ocasional 100 mile trip up the road the NV200 is fantastic. From a driving experience point of view it offers something pretty unique.
Big-van like visibility but car-van footprint sounds about perfect. So in case it wasn’t obvious, from a driving experience point of view I am a fan of the NV200.
The gearbox was a tiny bit whiny but the engine was strong enough, I only had the NV200 for three days but in that time I didn’t feel like it was going to have problems, it felt like it would be reliable. Fuel economy was perfectly acceptable. Load space was good and easy to access.
In short if you want the big van experience in a small package I would be looking at the NV200 without hesitation, I really enjoyed having it.
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