The NV200 may be a new name to the UAE, but its commercial version, the NV350 van, has been plying its trade for some time in our market. Now before you cringe, the smaller 200 model is more of a family MPV. And now Nissan has expanded its electric car range by installing the powertrain of the Nissan Leaf into it, making it the only seven-seater you can buy (well, not here though) that runs on pure electric power.
There are two versions of the e-NV200, too; the more functional Combi model as well as the Evalia, which adds all the available options to create a more luxurious feel.
Unlike the modern generation of MPVs, the e-NV200 still has clear visual links to its commercial origin. But unlike the old days where that meant a dull box on wheels, modern commercials are far more sophisticated and better looking. The e-NV200 successfully blends elements of the Leaf hatchback — particularly the nose — with the more practical rear end from the regular commercial. The car-based MPVs might look sharper, but the e-NV200 doesn’t look like an airport minibus either.
Inside is where the e-NV200 really comes to the fore. Up front the space is good; you sit upright so there’s plenty of headroom and the view out is excellent. The middle row is a bench that can accommodate three and there’s a further two individual seats in the rear, so it can swallow seven adults with relative ease. Better still, the second row can slide and fold, and with the rear two out of the way, it gives you something close to the carrying capacity of the original van. For sheer flexibility and space there’s not much that can touch it.
Things are slightly different behind the wheel, though. If there’s one thing commercial-based vehicles are criticised for it’s that they don’t match the refinement of conventional cars. But the e-NV200’s electric powertrain means near silent running, particularly at lower speeds, so it’s quieter than most conventionally powered MPVs for much of the time. In many ways it’s a perfect school-run urban assault vehicle. You can bundle six kids into it in a matter of seconds and the Leaf powertrain gives surprisingly rapid acceleration from lower speeds. And if your journeys tend to be of the ferrying nature then you can do so happy in the knowledge that you’re contributing nothing in the way of tailpipe emissions.
Longer journeys do bring the range into play. The official figure is 170 kilometres, and an 80 per cent charge can be achieved in 30 minutes at a fast charging station.
The cheapest seven-seat version with outright battery purchase is a very respectable £23,400 (about Dh122,000) in the UK if you purchase the battery pack outright; it’s cheaper with the battery lease programme, which varies in cost depending on the period and mileage. The Evalia seven-seater in Tekna spec gets tons of kit — keyless entry, the clever Carwings navigation that keeps you updated on charging locations, heated seats and steering wheel, privacy glass, and alloy wheels.
An all-electric MPV is something of a niche within a niche in our market, which means that even if it were to be offered here it probably wouldn’t find buyers readily. However, for shorter journeys the Nissan’s quick acceleration, massive practicality, low emissions and potentially tiny running costs are near ideal. It’s just about the perfect parental taxi. Whether image-conscious motorists in the Middle East would ever relate to it is a question we almost certainly know the answer to. But hey, stranger things have happened.