Nissan NV200 taxi review

30 Aug, 2013 12:15pm Steve Fowler

Nissan NV200 targets world's taxi ranks with smart modifications and a huge boot


It’s crazy to think there are still thousands of Ford Crown Victorias, with their gas-guzzling V8s, in New York City. The Nissan NV200 cab might not have an iconic silhouette, but it’s far more fit for purpose, with a more efficient engine, acres of space in the back and USB ports to charge phones – all of which also bodes well for the forthcoming NV200 London black cab. Stubborn New Yorkers might take a while to get used to this new take on their beloved ‘Crown Vic’, but at least they can’t complain about the colour.

Nissan NV200 is the manufacturer's attempt to dominate the world’s taxi ranks. If you’ve ever visited Japan, the chances are you’ll have been driven by a white-gloved cabbie in a Nissan Cedric.

Now Nissan bosses are enviously eyeing the iconic yellow Ford Crown Victorias in New York and London’s traditional black cabs, and intend replacing them with their own versions.

We’ll be seeing the company’s first attempt at a new London taxi later this month, but we’ve already had the chance to try the version heading for New York City.

Both will be based on the Nissan NV200 van, with suitable and clever modifications for taxi use. In our New York cab, that means low-effort sliding doors on both sides, retractable side steps, USB charging ports, a driver/passenger intercom and anti-microbial vinyl seats. The best bit, though, is the panoramic glass roof – a real boon for sightseers looking to do a bit of skyscraper spotting.

There’s good room in the back, as well – acres more space than you’ll find in the old Crown Victorias. The Nissan’s much easier to get into, too, while the boot is huge – we suspect some of that will have to be sacrificed in wheelchair-friendly UK cabs that will also seat four rather than the New York cab’s three.

Safety in public transport is paramount, of course, and we especially liked the warning lights at the back of the car that glow orange to indicate to drivers behind that the sliding doors are open and someone may be about to step out.

Comfort’s important, not just for the passengers but for the driver, who gets a pretty car-like environment. Cabin quality is decent and the plastics robust – they’ll need to be because most New York cabs average around 70,000 miles a year. The high-up driving position is comfy, while air-con and even sat-nav are available. Controls for the sliding doors, intercom and retractable steps are hidden between the front seats.

Under the bonnet of the New York cab is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It’ll propel the NV200 with a decent amount of zest, while the steering feels pretty meaty, too. Nissan has clearly addressed the van’s ride to make it feel more like a car – we didn’t experience any of the usual bounciness you get from an unladen van.

A big clear plastic panel behind the driver’s head gives a decent view out of the back, while low side windows and big door mirrors are handy, too.

Our UK cab will be modified to a greater extent than the New York version. Nissan has had to widen the front track to enable the car to meet London’s 25ft turning circle requirements, while London mayor Boris Johnson also asked for a front-end redesign to make it more “London taxi-like” We’ll see the results soon.

UK cabs will also get a 1.5-litre diesel, but the longer-term plan is to fit them with a version of the Nissan Leaf’s electric powertrain that can be fast-charged over lunch to provide enough power for a typical day’s work.

Disqus - noscript

Unbelievable that many New York cabs are fitted with big V8 motors. It's so unnecessary!

Yet in this country we're over the top in an effort to counteract some of the damage done in some other countries. It's difficult (or impossible) to buy a new diesel any more without it clogging up the DPF if you don't constantly drive on motorways. Absolutely crazy.

I don't see why the New York cab even has to have a 2.0 petrol. Why not the same 1.5dci we're having? It would be more than adequate but I suppose it would be just too much of culture shock. A petrol electric range extended design similar to GM's Ampera set up would probably be the best compromise.

When I went to New York 2yrs ago, I couldn't believe the pick ups used for gardening in Central Park were 6.0L V10s, and all the vans V8 petrols. Over here we use 2.5L diesel transits.

You'll never change the brash attitude of America

So this is the car / van / vehicle that is going to replace the Black Cab.
In terms of economy, efficiency, customer and luggage space, its a no brainer.
But in terms of personality it stands no comparison with the iconic Black Cab.
Did our idiosyncratic Mayor Johnson think of this before signing this off?

The 2.0 petrol comes with a standard cvt. The 1.5D only comes with a clunky manual at the moment. Perhapes it will come with a CVT option for London Maybe it will be a jerky manual mini cab style effort.

Sorry, I missed the relevance to my post?

How do you know the manual is clunky? Have you driven the new black cab? And CVT's are awful. If you want just a bit of power to nip through traffic, the revs go spinning towards the red line! Not at all appropriate, and probably better suited to a conventional automatic programmed to stick in the highest possible gear when crawling along in traffic.

Hello! You asked why the 2.0 was only available in the USA. I was giving one reason; the 2.0 comes with the CVT and the 1.5 diesel variant does not. Its unlikely they will take up manual trans cabs on any large scale. There are a number of other reasons too.
The 1.5 diesel is available here in the UK in the NV200 van and has been for a while which is where I tested it. The gear change is not as smooth as the small diesel Ford offerings for example.

Hi. I didn't question it literally. I meant what I actually asked, why not the 1.5dCi we're having?

I'm sure fitting a CVT or any automatic transmission to the diesel wouldn't be too much trouble and an auto certainly isn't exclusive to the 2.0 petrol, is it?

The 1.5 dci can be fitted with a six speed dsg type gearbox as used in the Megane, as most London cab drivers only have automatic taxi licences this would be essential.

Hi Nissan pls make sure Nissan nv200 taxi is coming with wheelchair access same as in lti. Otherwise many local council will not allowed to drive Nissan nv200

Key specs

  • Price: £19,000 (est)
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl
  • Power: 132bhp
  • Transmission: CVT automatic, front-wheel drive
  • 0-60mph/top speed: N/A
  • Econ/CO2: 30mpg/N/A
  • Equipment: Front compartment air-con, eight airbags, panoramic roof panel, vinyl seats, yellow paint
  • On sale: November