The NV200 Taxi for London follows similar NV200-based taxis for New York, Tokyo and Barcelona. It will initially be offered in 1.6-litre petrol form with an all-electric version to follow in 2015.
The design of the taxi includes several nods to the classic black cab, including in its chrome-heavy front grille and round headlamps – the latter units taken from Nissan’s Juke model, although there’s no Nissan badge on the front.
The distinctive flared front wings have to accommodate the wider track of a new front suspension system, which is unique to the London version of this Nissan. This was designed to meet the TfL 7.6m taxi turning circle regulations. The raised ride height also allows the car to offer the minimum 10in ground clearance requirement.
Darryl Scriven, Nissan’s London-based design excellence manager told Autocar that the new taxi was developed at Nissan’s Paddington design studio, in close consultation with Transport for London, the Mayor’s office, disabled groups and London cab drivers.
Detail additions include running boards, an LED taxi light on the roof (which is easier to see when illuminated during the day) and twin, wider, sliding rear doors for wheelchair access. Driver comfort is also being flagged up as an asset, thanks to the ‘superior’ seats and adjustable steering column. Passengers in the capital also get to have a better look at the city thanks to a panoramic glass roof.
The rear cabin has three seats on the bench and two more that fold down from the back of the front seats. The front passenger seat and the space around it is used for luggage.
Power for the taxi comes from a 113bhp, 117lb ft, 1.6-litre petrol engine mated to a CVT gearbox. Economy figures have yet to be announced, but up to 40mpg is expected, with particulate (10mg/km) and NOx emissions emissions (1.0mg/km) significantly lower than traditional diesel taxis, which are a significant contributor to the poor air quality in central London. The Nissan’s real world economy is expected to be much better than today’s TX4 diesel cab, partly because the TX4 weighs nearly two tonnes.
The planned electric version will use much of the battery and EV technology from the Leaf hatchback.
There are around 20,000 black cabs on London’s roads, but upcoming emissions regulations will soon force many of the older cabs off the road, with Nissan targeting a significant share of the market this will open up. The lack of a diesel-powered version of the Nissan taxi also suggests that the capital’s authorities are trying to squeeze oil-burning cabs off the roads over the next decade.
The taxis will be sold exclusively by Nissan franchise dealer Glyn Hopkin in a purpose-built facility in Canary Wharf. Prices are tipped to be competitive with the existing LT1 TX4 taxi starting at an estimated £30,000.
Servicing costs are also expected to be lower than the competition, thanks to touches such as 14in wheels, which will reduce tyre replacement costs.
Hilton Holloway & Mark Tisshaw