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FIRST DRIVE

Temperature drop

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It has been a while since your author last drove a fridge van in anger, but my two abiding memories are having to wait an eternity for the box to get down to temperature and then enduring hours of incessant humming as the unit struggled to maintain the temperature. Time has since moved on, and so too has the technology.

First Drive Impressions

Our test van, an NV200 1.5D SE Fridge, was fitted with a Carrier Neos 100 refrigeration system that barely stuck up above the roofline. It also pulled down from an ambient 14 degrees to zero in less than 20 minutes, and whilst it was still noisy, its rattle seemed less irritating than I remember. The conversion, carried out by Spanish firm Gruau near to the NV200 assembly line in Barcelona, uses moulded polyester-polyurethane panels to improve available space and thermal efficiency within the 2.2m3 loadspace. The Carrier unit can also be substituted for a Diavia compressor that is slightly higher, but weighs 3kg less than the 65.7kg Carrier unit and can cool to -10C rather than zero. Importantly both are fully endorsed conversions, which are available through the Nissan dealer network, and are supported by a three year manufacturer warranty for the insulated cargo area and the cooling unit. Power is drawn from the alternator and the temperature is set using a digital control unit mounted within the cab. The conversion also allows the refrigerated compartment to be cooled using a 230v external socket when stationary, and the rear is fitted with sturdy foldable shelves (£200) and plastic strip curtains (£100).

Power for the van comes from a 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel engine producing 85hp and 200Nm of torque at 2,000rpm. Performance is remarkably similar to the standard panel van, the conversion resulting in little discernible power loss. The unladen vehicle is heavier (1,476kg) adding 215kg to the weight of the standard panel van, but despite its increased kerbweight the NV200 Fridge does still allow a payload of 524kg. It’s also a nimble van, and while the seating position and forward view is higher (no bad thing) when compared to other vehicles in this sector, the NV200 is more than capable of being flung around tight city streets.

Aside from the added noise, comfort levels are unchanged over the standard vehicle which is a decent albeit not exceptional workplace. The NV200 is larger than many of its rivals, and as such there is more space, but the interior is inoffensive and constructed of a good grade of plastic.

Economy proved impressive even whilst running the cooling unit continually, with the NV200 coming close to achieving the 57.7mpg claimed fuel economy. Our test vehicle was the standard NV200 Fridge, which was fitted with a pair of opening rear doors, however, an additional sliding side door is available for £300 on top of the £19,375 starting price. With the addition of the aforementioned loadspace features, and the Safety Pack (£1000) which includes a passenger airbag, fog lamps and air-conditioning, purchasing our test vehicle would cost £20,675 before the VAT. Yet, for a fully endorsed refrigerated van conversion, on a vehicle that is still compact enough to fit into most UK underground car parks, that seems like a fair price to pay for a busy temperature controlled business operating in an urban environment.

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