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Nissan NV200 Combi 1.5 dCi SE

Click to view picture gallery“Nissans NV200 Combi the new
  transport option for family and
  business use. Based on the 2010
  International Van of the Year, the
  new Combi is available with 5 or 7
  seats, twin side sliding doors,
  opening rear doors or optional top-
  hinged tailgate and a whole load
  of practical load space

THIS VEHICLE COULD BE JUST THE RIGHT CHOICE for active families with cycles, pushchairs, dogs or for a combination of business and family use. And the less able, who need to carry a wheelchair, should also consider this model.

Two friends saw my NV200 Combi five-door test model and both were impressed by its versatility. One runs an event management and promotions company, so it's ideal for carrying staff and equipment to a job. The other person shows dogs and the Combi's space and low load floor is ideal for carrying animals and all their show equipment. That's just two examples of the many and varied uses this practical vehicle offers. Despite it being a boxy van with windows, the aerodynamic front looks really smart and stylish.

This vehicle is a do-it-all magic box because its compact size gives no indication as to the considerable interior people and load carrying space inside. The package has an extremely compact footprint — 4.4m long, 1.86m tall and 1.695m wide. Add agile driving dynamics and a tight turning circle and it becomes a sensible option for our do-it-all motoring requirements as we cut our motoring costs.

Although it comes from the Nissan NV200 commercial vehicle family, the whole range is based on the Nissan-Renault Alliance B-segment passenger car platform so the ride, comfort, road holding and overall driving refinement are all pretty good.

The fact that it's powered by a frugal 1.5-litre dCi common-rail turbodiesel 83bhp engine with a healthy 147lb ft of torque from 2,000rpm means it is pleasant to drive. And good on fuel, too: my test week of everyday motoring returned 48.2mpg — down on the official 53.3mpg Combined Cycle figure but still impressive. CO2 emissions are 139g/km.

Because the Combi
is built on a car platform
the ride comfort and
handling is pretty good,
as is the vehicle’s
agility and small turning
The command driving position gives good visibility and the Combi offers outstanding leg and knee room plus a mix of practicality. With all seven seats in use there's still space for two large suitcases in the luggage area. Fold the two rear seats away so it's a five-seater and there's enough room for five suitcases.

The five-seat Combi S costs only 15,685 including VAT yet comes fully equipped with safety features including ABS, EBD braking and passenger airbags. A CD player complete with an MP3 jack, electric windows and mirrors and a trip computer are also standard. Access to the huge luggage area is via twin rear glazed doors, while twin sliding side doors open to access the 60:40 split second row bench. The maximum payload is 667kg but for activity-mad families the NV200 will still tow a boat or trailer as long as it does not exceed the 1,100kg braked towing weight.

SE grade Combis start from 16,998 and enhance the S spec with alloy wheels, body-coloured bumpers, air conditioning and a reversing camera. For buyers who want to combine space and value with the highest levels of safety there's the Combi SE Plus which adds an ESP handling programme and side airbags to the standard equipment list.

To make the most of the Combi's huge cabin, a third row of seats can be fitted to both SE and SE Plus models taking the total passenger count to seven. None of the seats needs to be removed from the vehicle to increase load space since the second row folds and tumbles forward, while the two third row seats fold up against the side panels.

In addition to the rear passenger load area there is a reasonable amount of storage space for personal items although not having a lid for the glovebox seems a bit penny-pinching; likewise, having electrically-operated door mirrors but not heated. The rest of the controls, trip/fuel computer and displays were good, as was the standard-fit reversing camera.

Because the Combi is built on a car platform the ride comfort and handling is pretty good, as is the vehicle's agility and small turning circle. It is easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces and nimble on the open road and while there is some bodyroll during cornering, it's predictable. Being front-wheel drive, carrying any weight tends to 'push' the vehicle during fast cornering so understeer will be experienced but there is still plenty of grip from the front wheels. Although ESP electronic control stability is standard fit for SE Plus versions it should be fitted to all models as standard.

The 1.5-litre turbodiesel
is flexible and
responsive throughout
the rpm range
The 1.5-litre turbodiesel unit might, on paper, look a bit feeble for this vehicle — but it isn't. It is a well-known Renault-Nissan family engine and because the five-speed gearbox and final drive have sensible ratios (not deliberately over-geared for low CO2 emissions), it is flexible and responsive throughout the rpm range. If pushed hard the unit gets a little noisy but generally it is efficient and willing. Top speed is 98mph and 0-62mph takes 12 seconds.

The NV200 Combi isn't unique in its class; Renault, Fiat, Citroen, Peugeot, Ford and Hyundai all have similar offerings and of course if you look at the MPV market then there are even more options. Against: More expensive than a Renault Kangoo or Fiat Doblo but then the Combi is slightly larger, not cheap with VAT included, no ESP as standard, no glovebox lid, no heated door mirrors.

On the plus side it offers useful practicality for business or family use, very low load floor for easy access, is comfortable and roomy, fuel efficient and the road tax is low. In addition, it's good to look at, easy to use and easy to live with so it ticks many boxes for many people for both work or play. — David Miles

Nissan NV200 Combi 1.5 dCi SE
| 16,998
Maximum speed: 98mph | 0-62mph: 12 seconds | Overall test MPG: 48.2mpg
Power: 83bhp | Torque: 147lb ft | CO2 139g/km