THANKS to men braving the fashion police in aid of cancer charities, the dying embers of 2011 may well be remembered for facial hair. The month of Movember.
Moustaches, of course, are very much out of fashion. To wear one is like living inside Peter Sarstedt’s vanity mirror although it’s not absolutely clear what it did for him.
One possible reason is that many became so big and cumbersome. There was a real danger that anyone with a heavy moustache habit could end up with eyes like a basset hound.
A similar story to the evolution of the MPV.
In the beginning there were vans with windows, simple people carriers which soon became mobile, swivel-chaired offices, DVD player heaven and contest for the most cupholders.
All very well but I think what you will find is that most couples who have proved themselves successful in the family fortunes department really want seven seats at a reasonable price, not a mobile bush cinema and beachfront cafe.
There is a much more practical outlook to the MPV now. As is the case with Nissan’s NV200 Combi.
It’s not small but reasonably compact which gives no hint of the huge amount of space you will find inside. Which means the Combi can be configured as five seats plus carry space or a full seven seater.
It comes with sliding side doors and a rear door option of van style or up and over.
There is no hiding from the fact that this car started life as 2010’s International Van of the Year.
Finishes are robustly industrial and the wide dash has plenty of room for two cans of pop, some invoices and a pie.
That is not to say there is a shortage of equipment. The SE seven-seat which tops the range has alloys, a reversing camera and air con added to the expected safety features like ABS, EBD and air bags.
There’s a CD radio and MP3 port for entertainment as well as all round electrics, privacy glass, split bench seat and 13 cabin storage areas. You can get in at entry level in a five-seater for £16,790.
How fast? Well it’s got an efficient 1.5 Dci engine which can return over 50mpg so you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s no racer. Would you want it to be?
Nissan does not even list its sprint speed on the spec sheet but a top end of 98mph is enough to accommodate cruising comfortably at motorway speeds.
Of course, being a van some may expect the ride qualities of a tin bath. Wrong. Joe handyman is a fussy customer these days and the NV200 is comfortable with less wind noise than befits a plumbers mate.
Right, well who needs to drive a van? Well, anybody who want’s money left over to buy their hobby equipment or dress a large tribe in school uniforms, aside from the taxi and corporate applications. It has business to do with dog owners and a clear Motability attraction.
On top of that it looks good which a lot of last year’s moustaches didn’t.
Nissan NV200 Combi SE
Mechanical: 82bhp, 1,461cc, common rail injection diesel engine via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 98mph
0-62mph: 12 seconds
Combined mpg: 53.3
Insurance group: 11
CO2 emissions: 138g/km
BIK rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles