Competing in a highly competitive segment means that Nissan has been consistently adapting the NP200 range to meet the diverse motoring needs of South African buyers
When it came to small bakkies, Nissan had South Africans covered with its venerable 1400 Champ for a number of decades. However, as technology improved and safety and environmental concerns gained a firmer grip on the industry in the past decade, Nissan, like many other manufacturers, had to cease production of some of its most popular models.
Thanks to ongoing developments in its alliance with French manufacturer Renault, Nissan had crafted an all-new replacement for the Champ called the NP200. Built in South Africa for South Africans, and with an understanding of what’s expected in a small commercial vehicle more than anyone else, Nissan’s representatives sang many praises with regards to the NP200s engineering and development at its launch back in 2008.
The latest NP200s are powered by a choice of either 1,6-litre, 8-valve, four-cylinder petrol, 1,6-litre, 16-valve, four-cylinder petrol or 1,5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engines. There’s also a variety of spec and trim options for one to choose from, and if you’re shopping at a Nissan dealer there’s a good chance there are tailored finance packages available to suit all types of buyers’ financial needs.
While Naamsa sales figures may indicate that the base models, especially with the base engine level, remain the company’s best-sellers, there’s no doubt the most recently-added turbocharged diesel engine models make perfect sense if you cover vast distances on the road every day.
Despite its impressive power and refinement, this 1,5-litre diesel motor produces 63kW of power at 3 750rpm and 200N.m of torque at 1 900rpm, allowing for a claimed combined-cycle fuel consumption figure of just 5,3 litres/100km.
While the petrol engines also work well, another one of the diesel engine’s characteristics, apart from being a fuel-saver of considerable note, is that it’s able to justly take advantage of the NP200’s 800kg loading capacity. The NP200 1.5dCi is available in two specification levels, Base and High-spec, with the more expensive models coming as standard with an MP3 compatible entertainment system, 15-inch alloy wheels, body-colour bumpers and sills, and even more comfort with the fitment of a height adjustable drivers’ seat with lumbar support, which offers a great alternative to a passenger car.
Unlike its vintage Champ predecessor, the NP200 boasts dual airbags, as well as anti-lock brakes and electronic brakeforce distribution (on High-spec models), allowing the driver to steer the vehicle out of danger even in low-grip emergency situations while carrying precious cargo.
Overall the NP200 continues to satisfy the needs of South Africans looking for a small bakkie, while Nissan SA continues to sell as many as they can produce from its Rosslynbased manufacturing facility. With prices starting at R125 100 for the Base petrol model and extending to R203 900 for the range-topping diesel model, Nissan’s got many bases covered across its range of light bakkies.
A comprehensive warranty, as well as a growing footprint of Nissan dealerships, also means that you can rest assured that the NP200 will remain on the road longer than most of its cheaper imported rivals.