Vans in general may not be as exciting as sports cars and crossovers, but in our clannish and barkada-oriented culture, people transports have a special place in our market. And then there are the small businesses and transportation operators that rely on them for livelihood.
In our country, the van segment is actually a three-way battle between a trio of models: the Toyota Hiace, the Hyundai Starex and the Nissan Urvan. Today, the van category heated up a notch when Nissan introduced the successor to its popular Urvan.
Officially called the NV350 Urvan, this fifth-generation people-mover has a 2.5-liter engine. Nissan Philippines says this is similar to the mill in the NP300 Navara, so we’re looking at a turbodiesel with at least 161hp and 403Nm. This means extra power going up Tagaytay or Baguio, even with a full load of people and cargo. According to Nissan, there’s now no more need to switch off the air-conditioner on mountain passes or when overtaking trucks on the highway.
Modern technology has also filtered down to the Urvan. There is now a shift indicator on the dashboard that reminds the driver to shift optimally, maximizing the thrust of the engine without wasting fuel. This will also guide your rev-happy drivers to a driving style that puts less stress on the engine.
One of the reasons we do road trips is to escape heat in the metro. And one of the best in the biz when it comes to automobile air-conditioning is Nissan. With its new Urvan, the Japanese carmaker doesn’t disappoint. Even the passengers in the back can enjoy cool air, thanks to 12 vents on the van’s ceiling.
As for the driver--obviously the person in need of the most comfort in the van--the shifter has been moved to the instrument panel for easier access. This frees up room in the floor area for more cargo and leg space. The steering wheel also tilts, while the driver’s seat itself tilts and slides to give manong an easier time behind the wheel.
Those traveling with loved ones will take comfort in knowing the front and sides of the Urvan are protected with body impact zones. In case of a collision, the impact is dissipated and absorbed, lessening the force on the passengers. Beyond the usual seatbelts and dual airbags, there is also a load-sensing valve that adjusts braking strength depending on the van’s load.
In terms of design, it’s safe to say the Urvan is an improvement over its predecessor’s aging styling. It has clean lines and a shortened overhang to give it a modern look. The angled strut front grille and the sharply angled halogen headlights contribute to the Urvan’s leaner profile.
For those seriously interested in owning an Urvan, Nissan Philippines has added incentive for you. Customers can get in touch with the Nissan Customer Assistance Center by calling its hotline at (02) 407-6593. And for those who will use the Urvan for business, Nissan will give those who register it as a PUV a three-year manufacturer warranty at no extra cost.
"We’re proud to announce that this is a first in the local automotive industry, to provide warranty coverage for vans used for utility purposes," declared Nissan Philippines president Antonio Zara.
Starting June 15, potential buyers can avail of Nissan’s new van. Here are the prices that await them:
* 15-seater - P1,183,000
* 18-seater - P1,196,000
* 3-seater cargo - P1,177,000
Let the van wars begin?
UPDATE: The new NV350 Urvan's YD25DDTi turbodiesel is rated at 127hp and 356Nm.
Photos by Dinzo Tabamo