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TAXI ENVY
Nissan’s NV 200

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Tue, Oct 15, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

Nissan NV200 London Taxi
Nissan\'s NV 200 as a taxi

By Zoran J. Segina JOINING THE PROS Two months ago the California Public Utilities Commission legalized transportation services by private individuals operating through web-sites such as Sidecar and Lyft. Those who prefer hauling goods as opposed to people (after all, the spilled stuff is less of a problem than injured humans) may consider the 2013 NV 200 Cargo SV. Fourgons - as they are known in France - have been plying European cities for decades. A big van or truck stuck in narrow streets of Paris, London or Rome would quickly alienate its customers. Moreover, small vehicle equals low gas consumption, which is very important point to remain competitive. The 200NV is a compact van with two front doors, a sliding doors on each side, and two rear cargo doors of uneven size - so they can be opened without taking too much space. Back windows are an option. So is a satellite radio to keep driver entertained during long hauls. The NV 200 we tested came equipped with a navigation system guided by a removable CD card that can be changed depending in which city you are. The outside of the van is marked by rounded corners and a raked windshield to minimize wind resistance as much as possible. The lower part of the front fascia is clad in a monochromatic plastic which looks flexible, and easy to replace. The designers know that this part of the NV200 will be most heavily exposed to traffic dents, dings, and damages. Behind a single row of front seats there is an open bare-metal windowless space with six hooks to tie down the cargo or put the netting. The frame structure has predetermined holes to install shelving or boxes. Sliding doors provide easy access if one needs to load from left or right. As it befits the professional vehicle, the NV 200 has everything the crew needs and not a single thing more. The dashboard is occupied by a large digital speedometer, with a tachometer on the left, and simple gauges displaying the mileage, fuel consumption, and selected gear. Since the test vehicle came with the entertainment package, including a CD and a satellite radio, the steering wheel has audio and cruise control buttons. The steering wheel is plastic. Hard plastic. Horn sounds wheezy and, at least for the local Southern California market, should be upgraded with something louder.

Nissan NV200 London Taxi

Although the instruments are integrated into the dashboard, it looks that the entire assembly can be easily swapped from left to right (for the British market, for example). There are ample air vents controlled by three simple buttons for ventilation and air conditioning. Large angled space just above the navigation screen will undoubtedly hold bills of lading, maps, and other cargo documents. Not only is there plenty of room between the front seats, but right underneath one finds a 12-Volt outlet with a USB port, and two bottle holders. Behind this, a large integrated open box has been designed to serve as a hanging file cabinet. Reach under the co-pilot's seat, and there is a drawer for additional stuff. Front mats are made of heavy rubber that can easily be hosed. Driver's seat has an elbow rest, but the passenger's seat does not. The front doors have electric window switches and plenty of storage space below. Rear view mirrors are large with split screens. With no side windows in the rear, the NV 200 comes equipped with the rear camera. Unfortunately, the small, dimly lit screen makes it hard to see details especially on the bright sunny day. The sun visors do not have vanity mirrors, but the driver's side has plastic tape to hold more documents. They are large enough to protect the driver's eyes from the afternoon sun when going westbound. To prevent vibrations of the rear view mirror, the stem is propped against the windshield by a rubber brace. The solution may look crude, but is efficient, cheap and easily replaceable. Three simple switches above the rear view mirror control the lights for the driver, passenger and the central illumination. The larger rear window is equipped with a crudely mounted, but undoubtedly effective, window heater. Another nice feature is a voice activated telephone control. The USB port allows the driver to connect a device and use the telephone hands-free, a handy feature for somebody who will undoubtedly have to talk and drive at the same time.

Nissan NV200

A fourgon with a high center of gravity, powered by a 131 hp four-banger, and equipped with a rear live axle suspended on leaf springs, does not have road holding worthy of a sport sedan. Everything is subsumed to efficacy. Leaf springs are crude but durable. The outward surfaces of the front seats are covered in vinyl so that they can be cleaned more easily and replaced when used up. The seats provide sufficient support, and the empty 200NV will reach a cruising speed on the freeway. Once the rear axle gets into a harmonic convergence with the undulations of the Southern California freeways - let' s just say it provides for a quite interesting ride. Inside the cabin the noise is what one would expect from a delivery vehicle without insulation. In terms of handling, the NV 200 does not offer much, even at moderate speeds. A quick attempt to change lanes in heavy traffic on the 10 westbound causes very unpleasant squealing of tires and dancing of the rear end. The crew learns quickly not to engage in the maneuvers of this sort. Strong Santa Ana winds sway an empty NV200 more than gently. As for the navigation system, an attempt to select a destination in the Northeastern part of the county had the computer trying to send me to the addresses miles away. Fortunately, I know where to go. Air conditioning is a necessity because bare metal in the back gets hot very quickly. From the outside of the NV200 is a simple box with six doors. The rear door hinges are mounted outward, so each door leaf can be opened 270 degrees (flush against the body,) and locked in position. The NV200 rides on American Cargo JKTY 185/60 R 15 tires. Front doors have deeply cut window openings for better visibility. The front is designed for better aerodynamics, with large headlights in the front. To maintain the speed on an incline, however, the driver has to step on the gas and raise the revs to over 3000. If pushed harder, even an empty NV200 forces the engine to reach almost 4000 rpm while barely making sixty-five miles per hour. How will such driving affect fuel consumption? Or the durability of the two liter engine? And what happens when the fully loaded NV 200 has to get to Lake Arrowhead? Or negotiate Topanga Canyon en route to the San Fernando Valley? For the Southern California users long freeway stints may be a daily occurrence. A diesel-powered NV200 would be a welcome addition to the local small business owners.

Nissan NV200 London Taxi
The NV 200 interior in taxi mode

On October 8, 2013, the New York Court ruled that the local transportation commission cannot require that a specially designed NV200 become the next exclusive taxicab in the Big Apple. The commission is planning to immediately appeal the ruling. Anybody who spent time scrunched on the sticky back seat of a decommissioned police Crown Victoria should join in the appeal. SIDEBAR COMMENT: If the NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission had its way, you’d hear the Bob James theme playing while Danny DeVito dispatched Nissan NV 200 taxis to Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Andy Kaufman and company. Notwithstanding the New York Court decision to block the Commission’s plan, there are already plenty of taxi drivers getting their NV 200s ready for service. And why not? The Commission had judged the Nissan superior to all of its taxi competitors. Having been driven in a taxified NV 200, I can tell you that it has amenities not even dreamed about in the Crown Victoria and Checker era of taxis. Its exterior footprint is way smaller, meaning it has more room to maneuver about the city. Yet, its seating comfort leaves nothing to be desired. With the NV full-size van and the NV 200 minivan, Nissan is going after everything from the taxi to the gourmet food truck market—and doing it quite well. – Roy Nakano For more information about Nissan products, go to nissanusa.com SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 NV200 Cargo SV Price: $19,900 (S model base) $23,250.00 (SV model as tested) EPA mileage estimates (miles per gallon): 24 city/25 highway LA Car observed: 23 mpg Engine type: 2.0-liter, inline, four cylinder, 16-valve, double overhead camshaft gasoline Horsepower: 131 @ 5200 rpm Torque: 139 @ 4800 rpm

Nissan NV200 London Taxi

Transmission type: Automatic Continuously Variable Transmission Drive configuration: Front wheel drive Steering: Engine speed sensitive electric power steering Suspension Front: Independent strut Rear: Solid axle, multi-leaf springs Wheels and tires: 15-inch aluminum alloy, with American Cargo JKTY 185/60 R 15 tires. Brakes Front: 11.0 inch vented front discs Rear: 9.0 inch drum Dimensions Length: 186.3 inches Width: 68.1 inches Height: 73.7 inches Curb weight: 3255 pounds

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