Many have tried to design replacements for the famed black cabs running around London, but Nissan’s proposal should ring quite familiar to Americans, especially New Yorkers: it’s the NV200, the same vanlet that will soon become New York City’s taxi of choice.
Although the NV200 minivan is a serious departure from the Ford Crown Victoria/Police Interceptor sedans that roam the streets of New York, it shouldn’t be much of a departure for London taxi users who already rely on the LTI TX4 wagon to ferry them around town. The taxi has seating for five in the back (three on the rear bench, two in rear-facing jump seats), and space for luggage to the left of the driver, where a passenger's seat would normally sit in consumer models. The van was retrofitted with the taxi lighting system typical for London cabs, and engineers added extra indicators to the front of the car.
On the inside, passengers are treated to a number of amenities: the van has a 12.9-square-foot panoramic glass roof, USB charging ports, and individual climate and lighting controls. The NV200 also has the benefit of being completely wheelchair accessible, with a sloping entry ramp that extends from the floor. To allow for better wheelchair access or more cargo space for able-bodied passengers, the rear seats are mounted on sliders and can move fore or aft.
All of this sounds very good, but Nissan is hoping that it's coup de grace over the old car will be how it affects a driver's bottom line. The Nissan is powered by an 89-hp, 151 lb-ft 1.5-liter I-4 diesel engine mated to a either a six-speed manual or an automatic transmission (with an as-yet-undetermined number of speeds). The manual version promises up to 44.4 mpg, a significant improvement over the current cab's 29.4 mpg rating. Crucially, the Nissan emits 139 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer, down from the TX4's average of 240 g/km. Nissan also promises a future electric-powered e-NV200 cab that won't use any gas at all.
It's still early for the NV200--it must finish all testing, including a crash test--but the London-liveried NV200 looks like a serious contender in the fight to supplant the mighty TX4 on London streets.