Review: Nissan NT400 (2007)
Wide range of conversions available including box van and recovery truck, strong 2.5 dCi engine, feels robust.
Cramped cabin feels dated, engines are noisy.
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Nissan NT400 (2007): At A Glance
The Nissan NT400 Cabstar may be classed as a van but it offers many of the advantages of a larger, heavier vehicle. This is because you can order the Cabstar in three different wheelbases that take it from the standard short wheelbase format all the way to one capable of working as a car transporter. By putting the engine under the cabin, more of the length of the truck can be used as load-carrying space, which means that the Cabstar is more manoeuvrable in town.
Nissan also provides the Cabstar as a chassis-cab set-up, leaving the customer to choose from tipper, dropside and box van configurations. Again, this is more akin to a heavier vehicle than the usual panel vans the Cabstar competes with on price.
The cab forward design is even more evidence of the Nissan’s approach to offering an HGV experience in the van sector. However, all of these truck-like credentials are backed up by a more basic level of refinement in the cab as the engines make themselves known far more than in the likes of the latest Mercedes Sprinter or Ford Transit.
There’s a choice of three engines, three wheelbase lengths (2500mm, 2900mm and 3400mm) two cab types and three gross vehicle weights – 3.4 tonnes, 3.5 tonnes and 4.5 tonnes. It comes as either a single tilt cab or, on medium and long wheelbase models, a fixed double cab.
The Cabstar is powered by a 2.5-litre common-rail diesel available in two versions - 110PS or 130PS plus there's a 3.0-litre diesel with 150PS. Short wheelbase models are equipped with a five-speed gearbox, with the exception of the 4.5 tonne model, while a six-speed box is specified on medium and long wheelbase vehicles.
A driver airbag is standard across the range while other safety features include the availability of an airbag for the door-side passenger (Basic+ and above), as well as front fog lamps on Pro+ grade. The cabin structure has been reinforced with beams mounted within the doors to offer greater occupant protection in a side impact.
What does a Nissan NT400 (2007) cost?
Nissan NT400 (2007): What's It Like Inside?
One of the first impressions the Cabstar imparts to anyone not used to it is a feeling of solidity. Nissan’s reputation for building vehicles that will last is embodied in the Cabstar, even if it’s not the last word in stylish design.
Hop up in to the cab and you find a near horizontal steering wheel, again giving the impression this is more of a small truck than a van. It doesn’t hamper the driving position though as the wheel moves for reach and rake to further fine tune the driving position.
The seat is comfortable, but doesn’t enjoy as much adjustment as some rivals and you are always aware of being sat directly over the engine. The dash and dials are clearly laid out in the Cabstar, so you won’t be seeking out key information in a sea of instruments and buttons.
There’s a large A4 folder-sized storage cubby directly at the top of the centre console, plus loads of other storage points all over the dash and around the cabin, so the Nissan has a place for everything. It also has room for two passengers and air conditioning is an option across the board.
To get at the engine and transmission, the cab of the Nissan tilts forward, again giving the impression of a van that thinks it’s an HGV. This allows great access for servicing, though thanks to the Nissan’s rugged build you probably won’t need to carry out any unscheduled repairs.
As well as the three different wheelbases to choose from, the Cabstar can be ordered with a crewcab, which is popular with those choosing the dropside model for use in the construction industry. It’s also popular with those using the Cabstar as a recovery truck and transporter as it can carry stranded motorists in decent comfort and space.
Nissan’s standard range of bodies includes dropside, box van and tipper, as well as the car transporter, so you should find most needs caters for off the shelf. It can also be ordered as a simple chassis-cab for those wanting to supply the van to a conversion firm.
With payloads ranging from 1239kg to 1521kg and maximum cargo volumes from 14.3 to 19.0 cubic metres in the box van models, the Cabstar is one of the most generous in its class. The tipper model comes with a steel bulkhead to protect occupants and there’s a built-in mesh so the driver can still see through the rear view mirror.
What's the Nissan NT400 (2007) like to drive?
In short wheelbase form, the Nissan Cabstar is the ideal companion for nipping into tight spaces and is helped by a compact turning circle. This means the Nissan is perfect for work in towns and cities where tight turns and tricky parking manoeuvres are the order of the day. It also allows the Nissan to reverse into drives and yards in one smooth arc rather than leaving the driver twirling the steering wheel in multi-point turns.
Further helping the Cabstar to be an urban delight is light steering, so even if you do find yourself having to spin the steering wheel between the lock stops it won’t leave you with bulging biceps. A surprisingly light and easy to work gear shift is yet another way the Nissan tries to make your life simple on the road and in the yard.
On the usual mix of broken city streets and over speed bumps, the Cabstar serves up a reasonable ride, though it’s clear Nissan has set up the suspension in the expectation its users will be taking full advantage of the maximum payload. This leads to some bounce and chatter from the suspension when the Nissan is running empty and the sensation is exaggerated by the driver sitting right over the front axle. This gives the feeling of the driver being at the pivot point as the rest of the van boings over obstacles.
Still, put some cargo in the back of the Cabstar and it responds with a more composed ride. It also remains composed at higher speeds, resisting sway or lurching once up to motorway pace. In the cabin, noise from the wind and engine leave you in no doubt as to the Cabstar’s commercial design and purpose, whereas many of its rivals now offer saloon-like hush and comfort.
All but the entry-level short wheelbase Cabstar now come with a six-speed manual gearbox, the starter model sticking with a five-speeder. The ratios work well and allow the Cabstar to get off the line with a fair amount of pep yet also cruise at higher speeds without feeling too strained.
The 2.5-litre turbodiesel comes in 120PS and 140PS forms and is as good a bet for most needs as you will find. It’s a durable and proven unit, while the 3.0-litre will be the choice for those who need the long wheelbase model for its full cargo-lugging ability.