Nissan has come up with a new take on the iconic London black cab, and is aiming to have it on UK roads by 2014.
The car is based on the NV200 that’s already been accepted as New York’s taxi of the future. And the company says it’ll live up to the legend of the traditional cab – the latest version of which, the LTI TX4, is showing its age with its ladderframe chassis and inefficient diesel.
Converting the NV200 for use in the capital isn’t simply a case of painting it black and fixing a taxi light on the roof, though. Vehicles must meet a host of Transport for London legal requirements.
One of these relates to headroom, and was originally introduced to enable passengers to wear a top hat in the back. As you can see from our pictures, the Nissan passes the test.
The most crucial requirement is a 25ft turning circle – allegedly so that cab drivers can make it around the roundabout at the Savoy hotel in one go. To allow this, Nissan had to add 200mm overall to the front track, plus fit new suspension, so the NV200 really can ‘turn on a sixpence’.
There’s also a law that limits the location of the indicators in relation to the width of the vehicle. Because of the new wheelarches, the indicators had to be moved from the light cluster down to the front apron.
Once Nissan had taken care of the 70-plus legal requirements – including fitting a slip-resistant floor and bright sight patches on the seats – it set about making the NV200 passenger-friendly.
All cars have a panoramic sunroof for sight-seeing, plus USB sockets and seats that move back and forth to give more passenger or luggage space. Sliding rear doors not only boost access for wheelchair users, but also stop people opening doors into traffic.
The most convincing arguments for switching to the new NV200 are environmental and financial, though. The 1.5-litre diesel – sourced from the Juke – offers 88bhp or 109bhp and promises 53.3mpg economy and 139g/km emissions. The TX4 claims 35.3mpg and 209g/km.
If all London cabbies switched to an NV200, it would save more than 39,000 metric tonnes of CO2 a year, while drivers would cut their fuel bills by around £700 annually. Plus, Nissan even has an electric version under development for 2014.
A price hasn’t been decided yet, but the standard NV200 is likely to cost between £28,000 and £32,000. That’s cheaper than the TX4 and Mercedes’ Vito taxi – and the new car costs less to run than both.
Taxi drivers may be a tough bunch to please, but Nissan is working closely with them to ensure the NV200 ticks all the boxes. And although the new car doesn’t have the iconic looks of the classic black cab, it seems a good fit for modern London and a strong financial proposition for cabbies. When you’re hailing a taxi in 2014, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll be a Nissan.
How the black cab rivals match up
|Nissan NV200||LTI TX4||Mercedes Vito|
|Boot space||600 litres||437 litres||430 litres|