IF you run a small business, or even just find that a week rarely goes by without the need to shift all manner of paraphernalia, then using a compact van makes sound sense.
But it needs to be versatile, cheap to run, spacious and easy to manoeuvre – criteria all fulfilled by the Nissan NV200.
It’s easy enough to appreciate why this small panel van has scooped so many awards, including the International Van of the Year gong for 2010, as it’s relatively frugal, offers space with the minimum of intrusion and costs from £12,865 plus VAT.
Of course there are good points, and some less so, though the former far outweigh the latter.
For the handyman flitting around the suburbs and commercial complexes the Nissan is near ideal with its raised seating position, tight turning circle, light steering and sensible access.
Ease of loading is paramount for white van man and in the NV200’s case the rear opening doors and twin sliders, means a load can be accessed and positioned without anyone needing to climb in through the back.
My few days with the vehicle coincided with the kitchen cooker giving up the ghost, so a new one was collected and the old one shifted for scrap, with the minimum of fuss.
The Nissan’s dimensions - 2,040mm length, 1,500mm width and height of 1,385mm – are impressive and with just a minimal amount of intrusion from the wheel arches you can pack plenty in.
And with the added advantage of side loading, you don’t need to access everything via the rear doors.
Out on the road the NV200 is capable if lacking in punch, but there’s good visibility thanks to a high seating position and a reasonable turning circle.
Inside, the two-seat cabin is practical with a deep cup-holder on each side of the dash, door bins and coin slots, an open glovebox with shelf above, a floor tray, flip-down box and tray, a pair of can holders next to the handbrake plus storage options for paperwork.
The seats also feel both comfortable and hardy, while there’s a full steel bulkhead to protect the driver from the load.
And thanks to Nissan’s commitment to technology and innovation, the latest NV200 models have enhancements ranging from sat-nav to a more powerful engine, while Bluetooth is now standard across the line-up too.
Step up to the tested SE grade and there’s a rear-view camera - essential for any CV driver backing into tight spots with a full load on board.
Otherwise the likes of electric windows, remote central locking and shielded door locks, driver’s airbag, trip computer, CD sound system with MP3 aux jack, ABS with EBD and a cargo floor covering all come as standard.
Nissan NV200 SE panel van
Price: £13,550 plus VAT
Mechanical: 85ps, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max speed: 98mph
Combined mpg: 54.3
Insurance group: 6
CO2 emissions: 137g/km
BiK rating: 20%
Warranty: 3yrs/100,000 miles