Nissan isn’t only a market leader in electric cars but electric vans as well. Its e-NV200 small van has been leading the electric LCV market since December 2014, becoming a top choice for companies looking to make zero emission deliveries. Available as a panel van and a five-seat combi, there’s now a more practical people carrying version sporting seven seats.

It’s taxi companies, private hire firms, fleets and hotels Nissan is targeting with its e-NV200 7-seater as it’s these groups of people who have been haranguing Nissan to build one. Up until now they’ve had to rely on more conventional seven-seaters like theFord Galaxy or put up with carrying just five in e-NV200 five-seater models if they wanted to be ‘green’.

As this is essentially a van with windows – and sliding windows at that – adding two more seats has been a simple job requiring no structural changes. Two decently sized chairs have been placed in the boot and there’s loads of headroom thanks to the vehicle’s boxy van origins. Legroom is a little tight for those over about five foot 10 inches and there’s no separate ventilation – the only windows that open are in the second row and they pop out and slide rather than winding down.

However, don’t expect the seats to cleverly fold into the floor like those you’d find in a car-based MPV such as the Volkswagen Sharan or the new Ford Galaxy. As it’s a remodeled van there’s a completely flat floor and the seats are latched to it. Should you need to carry just five people and have extra space for luggage, the two rearmost seats fold up and can be strapped to the sides. It’s hardly elegant but it’s a functional solution meaning you don’t have to remove the seats and leave them behind. Speaking of boot space, the seven-seat e-NV200 models have 870 litres on offer when all seven seats are being used; fold the two rearmost seats to the side and tumble the second row forwards and there’s a cavernous 2,940 litres – that’s 601 litres more than the new Ford Galaxy offers.

Elsewhere in the cabin the plastics are scratchy but they are all screwed together well, there’s a van-like upright driving position and the steering wheel and CarWings telematics system from the Leaf. The seven-seat option is available on the e-NV200 Combi or Evalia models and there’s a Rapid and Rapid Plus version of each. 

We tested the top-spec £27,260 Evalia Rapid Plus which comes with not only privacy glass, air conditioning, heated steering wheel and heated front seats (which allow you to keep warm and not use the air con on full blast and drain the battery in winter). It also gets 17-inch alloys and sat-nav along with fast 6.6kW AC on-board charging (hence the ‘Rapid Plus’ name). The standard rapid (50kW DC) ‘CHAdeMO’ charging port also features and can recharge the e-NV200’s lithium ion batteries to 80 per cent in 30 minutes.

The claimed range from the lithium ion batteries is 106 miles but on our test route around Paris in 36-degree heat with the air con on full blast, our e-NV200’s batteries took a pounding, depleating the range rapidly. Even in normal temperatures and driving conditions you can only really expect between 70 to 80 miles on a full charge – as long as you don’t try out its 14-seconds 0-62mph sprint time or 76mph top speed too regularly. 

Behind the near-upright steering wheel, the e-NV200 is nowhere near as swift as its Leaf brother, but more than quick enough to zip through traffic. There’s little steering feel – but that hardly matters in a vehicle like this – the brakes are nicely progressive even if the ride is hard.

The ride, however, is the least of the e-NV’s problems. You can buy the seven-seat versions outright (with the batteries) for between £23,400 and £27,260 (both after the £5,000 government grant), or if you opt to lease the batteries the price tumbles to between £19,895 and £22,255 (again, after the grant). Leasing plans depend upon mileage and contract length and range from £73.20 to £127.20 a month. In simple money terms, it makes the e-NV200 an expensive option putting it up against not only the new Ford S-MAX and Grand Tourneo Connect models, but also within sniffing distance of the significantly larger Volkswagen Transporter Shuttle.

When viewed pound-for-pound against competition like that, the e-NV200 7-seater models do not stack up well – but for companies who undertake short trips, have reliable access to charging points and are committed to embracing electric motoring, the e-NV200 is in a class of its own.    

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