The Nissan C22 Vanette (shown in the inset above) was the longest-running model in Malaysia, remaining in production longer than the Sunny 130Y (13 years). Affordably priced, reliable, economical and durable, it was a popular choice of pasar malam traders and other small businesses for years. In fact, not many know that Malaysia was the only source for the model as many years back, Nissan had given Tan Chong’s assembly plant the responsibility of producing the Vanette for global supply.

When it was phased out a while back, there was a gap in the Nissan light van line-up as Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd (ETCM) waited for the successor to be available. Now it is here – the NV200 Vanette which only shares the name but is an entirely new vehicle.

Designed to revolutionize the traditional concept of light commercial vehicles, the NV200’s distinctive styling, high level of safety features, advanced functionality and superior fuel efficiency are class-leading, further complemented by a huge cargo space which is suitable for various applications.

Powering the NV200 Vanette is the proven 1.6-litre HR16DE engine with Continuously Variable-valve Timing Control (CVTC) which produces 109 ps and 152 Nm of torque. It is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission for optimum fuel economy which is claimed to be a best-in-class 14 kms/litre (Japan 10-15 test cycle). Further fuel-saving also comes from the use of an electric motor for steering power assistance (instead of the power-robbing hydraulic pump). 

The NV200 is said to set new benchmarks in terms of driving comfort. Unlike the C22 Vanette which had its engine under the front seats, the NV200’s engine is mounted ahead of the cabin like a passenger car’s so noise levels are lower and occupants will also not experience ‘hot seats’.

The seating position is set high for a commanding all-round view to enhance safety and also help in parking. As would be expected by users of such a vehicle, storage space is important to keep documents and other items during daily deliveries. Also included are slots for a tollcard in the dashboard and for parking tickets in the sunvisor. Cupholders are also provided on the dashboard and the space between the seats is generous so that a briefcase or narrow carrier bag can be slotted in.

The passenger’s seat can also be folded completely flat so that its back side can be used as a workspace for filling out forms, making notes, etc. The interior designers have even provided a slot on the surface which can serve as a tray for pens and other stationery.

A Multi-Function Meter displays key operating information on a 2.8-inch Dot Matrix panel. The Multi-Function Meter is also equipped with useful alerts such as exceeding a set speed, maintenance due, timer and even a transmission shift-up alert so that the driver is reminded to change to a higher gear for better fuel economy. 

The single-leaf spring rear suspension system not only offers a payload of up to 740 kgs but its compact, space-saving design also allows more cargo to be carried (up to two Euro-sized pallets in 4.3 cubic metres of volume). The 2.04-metre long cargo floor is only 520 mm up, said to be the lowest in its class. Loading of goods can be done via 2 side sliding doors or a top-hinged rear door (in Europe, two-piece side-hinged doors are used instead).

Like all Nissan vehicles, safety is a priority for the NV200. Standard safety features include ABS with EBD and Brake Assist, Zone Body construction for the distribution of collision forces, an airbag, seat belts with pre-tensions and load-limiters, a 3rd brake light, wide rearview mirror and large side mirrors.

The NV200 Vanette is presently only available as a panel van so it can only be registered for commercial usage with a price of RM62,047.93 excluding roadtax, insurance and registration-related charges (for Peninsular Malaysia). Given its size and the fact that it has been chosen as the new New York Taxi, it could also be popular as a MPV if windows are added in. ETCM should give that some thought, especially since the original Vanette was also used as a people-mover.

The NV200 has been selected as the official taxi model for the New York taxi fleet which has long used mostly American sedans. A window van variant (right) is also available in some countries and would do well as a MPV.

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