However, after spending a week with it, I had an opportunity to see that as a package at least, the locally built ICE edition has its virtues, much like the Stealth edition did back in 2015.
ICE ICE baby
From an exterior perspective, the word I’d use to describe the ICE is...distinctive, especially when parked next to the bog standard NP200 that resides at our office.
Up front there are now two LED daytime running lights and a grey nudge bar, while in side profile, you will notice a set of 15-inch alloy wheels, a tonneau cover over the rubberised loading bay and tinted windows. There are also rather large “ICE” stickers at the rear and on either side of the load bay, which I didn’t find too appealing to be honest.
The interior has also received a makeover with leather seats embossed with the ICE logo of course. Apart from this fairly kitsch detail, the other interior features are very handy. There is a JVC front loader radio with Bluetooth/USB connectivity as well as air-conditioning, driver and passenger airbags, ABS brakes and rubber floor mats.
While these features seem insignificant when we have cars that can almost drive themselves in 2017, it is important to remember that this is a light commercial vehicle used by businesses. In many instances, items such as air-conditioning are seen as an unnecessary expense, so to have these in a predominantly work-related vehicle is considered a luxury.
Back to basics
My time with the NP200 was spent mostly on farm roads and the freeway with a smattering of urban driving. This is where I really saw the value of the little bakkie. Every feature fitted came in handy at one point. I removed the tonneau cover and loaded my motocross bike on the back and used the cover when I needed to carry fuel and parts for my personal car.
I can see why many people choose to have these small bakkies as transportation; they are infinitely useful, with an 800kg payload, better-than-average ground clearance and low running costs being the order of the day. Then there’s the not-so-insignificant fact that with a small single-cab vehicle such as this, you as the owner can claim a certain amount of input tax should you use it for business.
The highlight of the NP200 for me was the little 1.5-litre turbodiesel motor. It provides 63kW/200Nm which makes progress in the two-seater adequate while rewarding the driver at the pumps. Nissan claims a figure of 5.3 litres/100km which equates to a range of 943km on a single tank. This is entirely plausible to me; I covered some 730km during my week with the car and still had two bars of fuel left.
The diesel motor will also prove more effective in carrying loads as it out-punches the 1.6-litre petrol by 72Nm in the torque department. However, the petrol version of the ICE comes in at R191 900 while the dCi I drove comes in at R236 900.
The ICE dCi also commands a R15 000 premium over the more traditional 1.5 dCi pack model. For me, the ICE edition is perhaps not the most tasteful edition out there, however, if anything it served as a reminder that the NP200 is still a solid contender in the half-ton bakkie segment.