NISSAN created a good name for itself in the bakkie market with its little NP200, being a low-priced, practical vehicle. So, how would one make it desirable to suit a different market?
Well, Nissan stretched the platform and added seven seats to make the NV200 Combi, to partner with its panel van sibling.
The short front nose might look as though a pug ran into a tennis racket, but I’ll be the first to admit - I rather like it. Its clever design work and well-packaged cabin make it a versatile run-around, although the tiny 14-inch wheels do lookout of sorts.
Catering for the commercial and passenger sectors, this Combi comfortably seats seven large adults, but by pulling a few cords, the seats can be removed, creating a panel van-like cabin.
In addition to the hungry 3.1 cubic metres of cargo volume - which just seems to devour anything that you load through the high-opening tailgate – there’s also a host of smart storage solutions dribbled throughout. From the conventional cubbyhole, to a storage tray atop the dashboard, there are smaller trays in the centre console and around the steering wheel as well as large door pockets and four cup holders.
The NV200 makes short work of the city, because while it’s rather large and boxy at the rear, there are very few blind spots, and navigating into parking spots isn’t as difficult as one might expect.
Our test mule was the 1.5 dCi diesel unit. It produces 66kW of power and a hearty 200Nm of torque. At cold start (particularly now, in winter), the NV200 was reluctant and getting it moving was a bit of a task as it seemed stubborn. That’s until it warmed up, of course, when it revved freely throughout the rev range and chugged along with gusto.
Nissan claims a fuel consumption of around 5.1 litres/100km and 134g/km of CO2. And while we didn’t replicate these figures with our test car, we can report that the NV200 does sip fuel. Driven at varying speeds it handles itself with good composure.
In terms of equipment levels, the driver and passenger airbags along with Isofix child seat anchor points, make it a viable family offering. The inclusion of ABS with EBD and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC) is a nice touch for a vehicle of this size.
On the entertainment front, there’s a radio/CD with Aux and USB inputs as well as Bluetooth for audio streaming and hands-free cell phone use, making it technologically savvy, not forgetting air conditioning, as standard.
Ultimately, I never thought I’d look at a Combi and see myself behind the wheel of one. But this car transforms so well and its practical make-up is gripping, accompanied by its frugal nature, which doesn’t hurt either.