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Road Test Review:

  Article Date September 2009

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE

 
 

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Key Spec

 

Price (Rand) *September 2009
Engine size (litre)
Cylinders
Fuel
Power (kW)
Torque (Nm)
Fuel consumption (litre /100km)
Gear speeds quantity
Gear shifts

153 800
1.6
4
Petrol
77 @ 5750
148 @ 3750
8.1
5
Manual

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE Front and Rear View

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Quick Facts

 
  • Nissan NP200 is successor to long-serving 1400; new contender in half-ton-plus market; class-leading 800kg load capacity; biggest loadbay in segment; Nissan infrastructure; practical.
  • Top SE spec brings alloy wheels, body cladding, extra painted parts, front fog lights, roll-bar, tonneau cover; presentable; ABS + 2 airbags compares favourably.
  • Inside less appealing; white dials with chrome surrounds; wrinkled upholstery on left seat; cheapest plastic; poor finish; competitor has well-finished interior; based on Renault Logan - identical front-end and dashboard; factory-fit radio's controls too small - looks cheap; crude headlight-range adjuster.
  • S and SE have stronger 1.6 16v engine; agreeable power - can carry cargo; small French-engine whine; Renault sourced; serviced at Nissan dealer; average 8.1 l/100km.
  • Extra space behind seats handy for transporting personal stuff; finding: just a bakkie.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Road Test Interview

 

Interviewer: David S (Motoring Journalist and Vehicle Information Specialist)

Interviewee: Nissan NP200 1.6 SE

Question: Finally Nissan has a new little worker in the half-ton-plus bakkie segment - how does it stack up?

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE answered us in this road test interview.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Biggest Talking Point

 

...but doesn't Nissan also build "The 1400"?

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE Seat Upholstery, Interior Driver Cockpit and Tool Box Behind Passenger Seat

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Exterior and Interior

 
No. Nissan no longer builds "The 1400". You are reading a review of its successor, the NP200. Trying to replace a looooong-serving icon on South African roads was never going to be a smooth transition. What Nissan should have done is simply phase out the venerable little 1400 bakkie, wait a while, then re-enter the small LCV market with the new NP200.

...but Nissan wanted to communicate the message to the market that we now have a bigger, modern bakkie in its place, competing with modern rivals.

Comparing a new employee to a faithful colleague is never going to be fair.

So let's rather look at NP200 as a fresh new contender in the half-ton-plus market. What do you offer?

I offer class-leading 800kg load capacity, the biggest load bay in my segment, the Nissan name and infrastructure, presented with flair and practicality.

In base spec an NP200 looks okay and neat, but hard... you are the leisure and top SE spec level, adding several softeners for a bit of flair.

My SE spec brings alloy wheels, chunky black body cladding, extra paint, front fog lights, a roll-bar and a rigid tonneau cover go a long way to add this flair.

You're a little bakkie, so I'm not supposed to like you, but from most angles you are neat and strangely... presentable. A bit awkward at the back, but it's all for a good working cause.

Inside things suddenly look less appealing. The only kindness here is the white dials with chrome surrounds.

...but I'm just a bakkie.

Fair enough. Unacceptable to me is that an almost-new bakkie arrived with a left seat that was badly wrinkled on the bolster - it can't be due to wear - it was poorly upholstered in the local factory. I guess a bakkie interior doesn't have to be smart but the cheapest-will-do plastic and finish feels a bit slapped-together.

..but I'm just a bakkie, remember.

Go and look at a Corsa Utility - it has a pleasant and well-finished car-like interior. You are both based on a passenger car, so your excuse more than likely stems from being based on a crude Renault Logan (the front-end and dashboard are identical)... which is actually a Dacia.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Spec and Drive

 
The base model has the 8-valve 1.6 engine, where the S and SE models get the 16v engine.

I have the stronger 16v engine, yes.

There is enough happening under the bonnet to move the NP200 forward agreeably and carry its cargo but you have that annoying small French-engine whine.

It is sourced from our alliance company, Renault.

So it's sold as a Nissan but has a Renault engine. It can be serviced and maintained by the large Nissan dealer network, so it should be okay. Yet, your biggest rival has refined, energetic and economical engines.

I am also economical, using about 8.1 litres per 100km.

Safety is normally neglected in "just a bakkie". You, in SE spec, have ABS and 2 airbags. Only one much more expensive competitor also has crucial ABS braking, while close competitors with airbags cost more.

So in terms of spec I offer good value.

Yes, you are competitive.

Your factory-fit radio has pathetically-small little knobs and buttons that are difficult to control and looks like it was bought by the truckload for next to nothing. A decent radio never hurt anyone. The headlight range adjuster is an ill-fitting, crude half-labelled knob that is very ungainly.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Favourite Fresh Feature?

 

I found the extra space behind the seats very handy (normally a problem on a standard cab), so the extended cab is useful for transporting personal stuff like groceries, a small bag or a tool box.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Pricing

 
We said in 1.6 SE the price is R 153 800. It has the benefit of carrying a heavier load, inside a bigger load bay and has the extended cab space but the interior and engine is worse than some rivals.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Rivals

 
Fiat Strada, Ford Bantam, Opel Corsa Utility (the best-seller for years, for a reason), Proton Arena (was old in the '90s already). Strange - Toyota and VW don't do small bakkies.

Nissan NP200 1.6 SE - Finding

 
Question: Finally Nissan has a new little worker in the half-ton-plus bakkie segment - how does it stack up?

It looks presentable, can carry a heavier and bigger load and has Nissan backing... but interior finish and a whining engine rank poorly. Just a bakkie.

: David S :
Full member of the South African Guild of Motoring Journalists