Nissan e-NV200 Combi review
Nissan is a real pioneer of electric technology and the e-NV200 Combi is its five or seven-seat people carrier. It’s been on sale since 2013 alongside the e-NV200 panel van, and it shares technology with the Nissan Leaf. As of 2018, this has included the latest 40kWh battery that was introduced in the second-generation Leaf, although the rest of the Combi’s running gear is from the first generation.
There are hardly any rivals to the e-NV200 Combi. The only model that’s similar is the five-seat Renault Kangoo Z.E. Maxi Cab, although this is designed as a work vehicle, so isn’t very luxurious even when compared to the Nissan. Instead, we recommend you ask yourself if you need the extra space the e-NV200 Combi offers, or whether the Leaf is a better choice. The only other seven-seat electric cars on sale are the Tesla Model S and Model X, but as they’re nearly three times more expensive than Nissan’s MPV, they’re hardly rivals.
With the addition of the 40kWh battery, the e-NV200 Combi has a driving range 60% greater than the original model. Quoted maximum range is 187 miles and in real-world driving you can easily expect to cover 120 miles without much trouble. Of course, cold weather will affect that, but as the Combi is available with an interior pre-heating function, at least you can set the temperature before you set off, saving the battery for driving and maintaining the temperature.
There's a trio of charging options under the flap in the nose (similar to the one on the Leaf) with two sockets. The larger socket is the 'CHAdeMO' fast charger, although this is only standard on higher-spec Acenta and Evalia versions. This can top up the battery from less than a quarter of its capacity to over three-quarters full in 50 minutes without much hassle.
The second socket is the conventional connection to the 6.6kW on-board charger. This offers a seven-and-a-half-hour charge from a Nissan-approved wallbox, while using a regular three-pin socket really strangles the charging rate, with the 10Amp supply taking 21 hours to fully charge the battery from flat.
As already mentioned, the e-NV200 Combi comes in Acenta and Evalia trims, while the entry-level model is the Visia. Prices start at around £33,500 for the cheapest five-seater and rise to almost £36,000 for a seven-seat Evalia. The e-NV200 Combi qualifies for the Government’s £3,500 Plug-in Car Grant, which makes the Combi the least expensive seven-seat electric MPV on sale.
The basic Visia makes do with steel wheels and plastic trims, black plastic bumpers, fixed windows for the sliding doors and a top-hinged tailgate that makes it easy to tell the Combi apart from the e-NV200 van. Only two speakers are fitted to the stereo, but you do get a USB socket and Bluetooth phone connection, while a push-button starter is fitted. Options include the rapid charger function that’s standard on the Acenta and Evalia, plus the Heat Pack that helps save battery energy by pre-heating or cooling the interior before you set off.
Rapid charging, automatic air-conditioning, sliding side-door windows and a reversing camera are added to Acenta cars, while battery heating and cooling is included to help maintain its charge.
Evalia cars add sat nav (an option on Acenta trim) while automatic lights and wipers are also included. Body-coloured bumpers and 15-inch alloy wheels improve the e-NV200’s looks, while tinted privacy glass is included, too. Thanks to its improved looks, Evalia trim is the model we’d go for, as it’s the least van-like version in the range.
Under the metal, the e-NV200 Combi uses the battery pack from the current Nissan Leaf, with the rest of the electrical running gear sourced from the previous-generation Leaf. Its platform is shared with older Nissan models such as the Juke small SUV and Note small MPV. With 107bhp, the electric motor isn’t the most powerful, but all the power is available from zero revs, which helps the Combi get off the line and from 0-62mph in 14 seconds. It feels quick enough from a standing start, but runs out of steam at about 40mph – especially the seven-seater with a full set of passengers.
The weight of the batteries contributes to this slow performance, but also settles the ride somewhat compared to a diesel NV200. However, the firm suspension is far from comfortable, crashing over bumps in the road. Light steering helps around town and the big glass area means visibility is good, but the e-NV200 Combi is definitely more about getting from A to B rather than enjoying the journey.
The square body of the Nissan means there’s decent room for seven on board, but using all the seats doesn't leave much boot space to speak of – Nissan quotes a figure of 600 litres to the roof in seven-seat mode. The five-seater has 1,500 litres of space available (to the roof line).
If you want an electric MPV, the e-NV200 Combi is currently the only choice at this price point. The addition of the latest Leaf’s battery pack means the Combi has the everyday range to suit families that do lots of short trips, but it’s still very van-like in most respects. While that benefits interior space, it’s not much fun to drive, and you only get the most desirable car-like kit if you go for the top-spec Evalia.