Auto

Nissan NV350: Practical, strong and dependable

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer

Friday, May 19, 2017

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The 2017 Nissan NV350 doesn't stray far from its roots which made it a consistent favourite in the commercial van market.It's human reflex to grab a box when wanting to move a significant group of items. This isn't lost on Nissan's designers as this also extends to those needing to haul cargo, human or otherwise. Thus, the NV350 goes the simplest and most effective route with its exterior design. It's no SpongeBob Square Pants, as there are a few concessions to aerodynamics and visual appearance, but it's as square as can be.

The box-like exterior means plenty space inside. The NV350 is sold in three versions in order to satisfy its primary commercial cargo-carrying job. It can be had in a full panel configuration with no rear side windows and rear passenger seating, and a half panel version that adds only a second row of rear seats behind the driver. For those who ply their trade in more fragile human cargo, it's available as a 16-seater. New for 2017, the NV350 gains the option of more comfortable headrest seating. Regardless of which one goes for, interior rear space isn't a problem and in 16-seater mode, the van has a secondary rear air conditioning system offering 12 individual vents to keep passengers cool.

Functionality best describes what's happening upfront for the driver. In these cargo vans, the operators are essentially sitting above the drivetrain, making their comfort a priority. The Nissan doesn't disappoint. Clamber into the front and seating is soft and adjustable. There isn't button overload as they are few, large and easily operated, even better over time and familiarity. With the front cabin having its own a/c system, drivers can cruise all day unfettered by the weather, hot or cold.

Start in the NV350 and it clatters to life as one would expect a diesel. Gauges are large and visible with a digital screen providing the major vitals, including a fuel-saving shift-up indicator. The dash-mounted manual gear level rows quickly and easily through the five speeds on offer. More pleasing is that once into the meat of 262 lb/ft of torque, that the 2.5-litre turbo diesel motor outputs there'll be little need to do so. In all but the lowest engine revolutions, the NV350 packs more than enough punch to motivate itself forward. The van is easily able to tackle the cut and thrust of stop-and-go city traffic, and manage long-distance cruising, dispatching the hilly sections of the North-South toll road in fifth gear and at the posted speed limit. Suspension is soft and compliant, yet firm enough to ensure the NV350 handles well. Those skilled enough and wishing to indulge their inner public transportation operator can easily recreate the hilariously fun 'bus bounce' on a whim.

The 2017 Nissan NV350 is more of the same. However, as the 'same' is already what many would want from a commercial van, then that 'more' delivers the enhancements expected to make it an even more attractive option in its market segment. The NV350 is available from Fidelity Motors starting at $4.6 million.

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