If there is a segment in the automotive industry that is least contested, it would be this, the commercial van segment. Unless you’re a UV Express operator, or a travel and leisure operator, the general consumer isn’t interested in these moving boxes. The current Nissan Urvan we have has been in production in the Philippines since the Holocene Period, and yet not much really cared how old the Urvan is, even when compared to the Toyota Hiace. For a short period of time, we had the Nissan Urvan Estate, filling the role of having an Urvan for non-commercial use. Finally, the wait is over. The Nissan Urvan is receiving a replacement in the form of the Nissan NV350, and will be called the NV350 Urvan in our market.
I won’t blame you if you thought the Nissan NV350 Urvan looks a lot like the Toyota Hiace. Not much creativity in terms of design exists in this segment, so it’s expected for them to look identical to each other. Outside, creases are present just above the wheel arches, just to add a little creativity that is otherwise absent in a segment full of boxes. Overall, the Nissan NV350 Urvan looks thoroughly more modern compared to the Urvan it replaces, and the Urvan can now truly compete head on with the Toyota Hiace.
Inside, not a lot of things are happening as well in terms of design, since these types of vehicles are clearly emphasized for utility and space. A neat feature that the NV350 possesses over the Hiace Commute variant is that, the air conditioning runs all the way through the back (12 vents in total), which is essential in a climate as hot as ours. Also, making the Urvan just that bit modern is a shift indicator, which tells you when is the optimal time to shift.
The Nissan NV350 is powered by Nissan’s all-new YD25DDTi clean diesel 2.5 liter engine, found in the NP300 Navara. It’s a thoroughly modern engine, even more modern than the Toyota Hiace’s. It’s more powerful too, producing 161 hp and 403 Nm of torque, and power goes through a 5-Speed Manual Transmission.
The Nissan NV350 Urvan aims to compete head to head with the Toyota Hiace, and while for the general consumer, interest is very low, there somehow is a competition when it comes to public transportation operators, hotel & resort operators, and even travel & leisure operators. While they may not be a significant chunk in the automotive industry, it is still an opportunity for Nissan to compete, as it aims to gain foothold in an industry where it once was one of the largest selling carmakers. Toyota is the top seller in every segment in the industry, including commercial vehicles, and its time for them to avoid letting their guard down, especially since pricing for the NV350 Urvan remains almost unchanged over the aging predecessor, as all variants undercut the P1,238,000 price of the Toyota Hiace Commuter.
15 Seater: P1,183,000
18 Seater: P1,196,000
3 Seater Cargo: P1,177,000