As if listening to our baffled confusion between good design producing a horrible vehicle earlier this week, Nissan has given its London Taxi a facelift to “better reflect the iconic nature of the traditional black cab”.
Having lived with the world’s most eye-catching buses for the past few years – redesigned by Heatherwick Studios and Wrightbus – Londoners might be a bit concerned that their streets are about to be filled with startled-looking black mini-vans.
The design is a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’ – the city of Mary Poppins had turned it’s nose up at Nissan’s proposal to simply paint its new New York cab black.
Being the ugly kid in town doesn’t stop the NV200’s from having some smart design: it seats five passengers like the traditional LondonCab, with two flip-down seats facing the rear; has access for wheelchairs and sliding doors to let drunken bankers slump in through its doors in tight spaces, and it adheres to the classic regulation to throw a U-turn on the Savoy hotel’s 7.6m turning circle.
A 1.6-litre petrol engine and a zero-emissions electric version meet the new London emissions limits, yet its eco credentials are dented somewhat by its manufacture – parts will be produced in Barcelona and assembled in London, odd when Nissan has a UK factory plant already producing its electric Leaf city car.
Expect to see the new Black Cabs on London’s streets by the end of next year.