The Nissan NV300 might come with a new name and a smart new corporate look, but there are some very familiar aspects to it, outside and under the skin.
That’s because the NV300 shares fundamental parts with the Renault Trafic, and is built in the same factory as its sibling. It also shares engines and bodywork elements with the Vauxhall Vivaro and the new Fiat Talento, so faces a job to stand out from a familiar-feeling crowd.
Those Nissan corporate looks certainly go a long way, and manage to firmly connect it visually with the rest of the company’s recent passenger and commercial vehicle ranges. The large U-shaped detail on the grille is a feature shared with the brand’s most recent passenger cars, such as the Juke and Qashqai SUVs.
What really helps the NV300 stand out, though, is something actually sits behind the scenes; it’s backed by a five-year/100,000-mile warranty – a policy that’s longer and more comprehensive than most rivals’, certainly those with which it shares components.
The connection with Nissan’s car range continues inside, too, where the dashboard layout and switchgear are very familiar indeed, although the NV300 is still geared much more towards day-to-day practicality rather than luxury.
To this end, there is storage dotted around the cabin, with clever touches such as the fold-out cupholder that allows you to make the most of the legroom for the middle passenger when it isn’t needed.
The driver’s seat has plenty of adjustment to help get comfortable, but the one downside is the shortage of space to rest a left foot by the clutch pedal.
There are three equipment levels to choose from, with the familiar Visia, Acenta and Tekna names. Equipment is sparse on the basic Visia, although it gets electric windows, electric heated door mirrors, remote locking with single-door-open function, and a digital DAB radio.
It takes the step up to Acenta to get air-conditioning, a foldable passenger bench seat, and a smartphone dock on the dashboard. That smartphone dock isn’t as useful as it could be, though, because a shortage of adjustment means that only smaller phones will fit into it. A USB socket tucked into the storage box on the top of the dash is a neat way to prevent wires from dangling down near the gearlever, though.
Acenta also gets a full steel bulkhead with a load-through facility. This is a small hatch that allows narrow items up to 4.15m in length (such as poles or ladders) to be slotted under the passenger seat. Plus, a locking mechanism also allows the rear door to be held open if even longer items need to be transported.
Tekna adds more luxury and visual equipment, including a seven-inch touchscreen with navigation, cruise control and speed-limiter, automatic lights and wipers, and leather wheel and gearlever.
The NV300 comes in several shapes and sizes, with four van shapes – long- and short-wheelbase versions with a choice of two heights – to select from, as well as two crew vans. Even this shortest version (called L1H1) has a total load space of 5.2m³, which is marginally more than the rival smallest Peugeot Expert, and every panel van version is capable of carrying three Euro pallets.
On the road
The high-up seating position and the large door mirrors mean that there is a good all-round range of visibility out of the NV300, which makes it easy to drive around town and park. However, rear parking sensors are only available from Acenta trim upwards.
There is just the one engine, a 1.6-litre diesel that is shared widely across the Renault/Nissan group, but with four different power outputs that start at 95hp and top out at 145hp. This 125hp twin-turbocharged unit is a relatively quiet engine that’s smooth to pull away and perfectly at easy on the motorway, meaning the NV300 is a relaxed long-distance cruiser. It covers the 0-62mph dash in 11.9sec so isn’t exactly what you’d call rapid, but it has enough low-down power to ensure it’ll be more than brisk enough unless you regularly fill the load area close to its maximum.
The suspension is firm but well damped, so unfussed by potholes and speed bumps, while the steering is nicely weighted and predictable, making low-speed town driving and higher-speed corners equally simple.
Fuel economy and CO2 emissions are decent at 47.9mpg and 155g/km, but these figures still fall short of the likes of the Citroen Dispatch and Peugeot Expert.
The NV300 might not stand out from its rivals in many areas, but this is no bad thing because it still does a good job in all of those areas. However, what is truly compelling about the Nissan is that it matches its rivals for ability, but then adds a comprehensive warranty that is longer than the competition’s and comes with breakdown cover and key loss.
|Model:||Nissan NV300 L1H1 125 2.7T Acenta|
|Price:||£23,455 (excl. VAT)||Load width min/max:||1268mm/1662mm|
|Price range:||£21,300-£29,370||Load length/height:||2537mm/1387mm|
|Load volume:||5.2m³||Fuel economy/CO2 emissions:||47.9mpg/155g/km|