Detroit may be a long way from London, but the motor show presented the first opportunity to quiz Nissan’s product chief Andy Palmer on the new Taxi for London.

It’s fair to say reaction to the look of the NV200-based model, which was unveiled last week, has been mixed. Palmer, tongue slightly in cheek, said it was “beautiful”, before making the key point that it looks as it does “because you recognise it as a cab”.

“We tried to create something reminiscent of a London Taxi,” said Palmer. “We talked to cabbies with Mercedes Vitos and they don’t get hailed as people don’t recognise them as taxis.

“That’s why it was important for our taxi to be recognised as a taxi; there’s no Nissan badge for instance so people won’t assume it’s a car.”

At which point you start to wonder: who cares what it looks like? After all, the taxi is a business tool for a cabbie, and if it’s spacious, reliable, economical and affordable, isn’t that all that matters? No matter how iconic the current black cab might be, beautiful it is not.

London Mayor Boris Johnson informed Palmer that he wanted it to meet the conditions for fitness (wheelchair access, 25ft turning circle etc) and then make it look like  “bowler hat”, whatever that means…