By on March 6, 2016

Second-generation Nissan NV200 Passenger Spy Shot, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

It’s Spy Shot Weekend at TTAC. In addition to the Chinese metal driving around Ann Arbor we published yesterday, here are images of what could be a next-generation Nissan NV200 Compact Passenger van plying the highways of California by way of eagle-eyed TTAC reader Felix.

The current NV200 van is only available in cargo van or Taxi of Tomorrow guises. The latter landed the City of New York in a lengthy legal battle.

The van in the photos has all the hallmarks of being a Nissan prototype, including similar camo to that used on other Nissan models, explained spy photographer Brian Williams in an email.

According to reader and photo submitter Felix, the two vans passed him this morning as he drove westbound on I-80 near Vacaville, California, which is about halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco. Nissan has a Silicon Valley research facility located just an hour-and-a-half south of Vacaville.

Not much in shown in the shots, which Felix pulled from dash cam footage. However, larger side glass and a possible Hoffmeister kink (because sportsvan!) could be in the cards for Nissan’s smallest commercial vehicle. The next NV200 will likely be powered by the same drivetrain it uses currently — a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine mated to a continuously variable transmissions that pushes power to the front wheels.

Second-generation Nissan NV200 Passenger Spy Shot, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Second-generation Nissan NV200 Passenger Spy Shot, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Second-generation Nissan NV200 Passenger Spy Shot, Image: © 2016 The Truth About Cars

Update: TTAC reader astoncfw said it’s a Nissan Serena, which isn’t sold in the North American market. Comparing photos of the Serena with the spy shots, it looks like a solid match.

Nissan Serena Hybrid

In overseas markets, the Serena is sold as a hybrid with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine and continuously variable transmission. Nissan claims its the only hybrid van sold in Malaysia.

Sill, what’s it doing in California?

[Images: © 2016 The Truth About Cars]

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24 Comments on “Is This a Second-Generation Nissan NV200 Compact Passenger Van? [UPDATE: It’s a Serena!]...”

  • avatar

    It’s interesting to see as the cheap van market dies out the utility van is stepping right into that price point to offer cheap van for those who aren’t interested in a rolling kid’s room. I have to wonder though if these vans will ever see feature creep to make them less of a utilitarian place? I’m really considering the Ford Transit Connect as an alternative to the RAV-4 but I’m not sure I want to spend a decade in a place that’s so low rent….

    If Nissan brings it to market I’ll have to look at it as well. Seems odd to kill off the Grand Caravan and not have FCA bring down their mini-sprinter to take over the name.

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove a 2015 Transit Connect Wagon Titanium recently.

      It didn’t feel low rent to me. The interior was nice, the NVH was good. The price was good, too (it was lightly used).

      It sure didn’t suffer from any feature creep, but what was there was nice. My wife vetoed it sight unseen, but if you’re practical enough to even consider it, you might like it in the high trim level.

      I find the Transit Connect to he the spiritual successor to the Ranger in some ways.

    • 0 avatar

      The XLT and Titanium Transit Connect Wagons are comparable to other SE and Titanium trim packaged Fords. I bought a used loaded 2015 Transit Connect XLT SWB wagon and while I am under no illusion that it is a refined luxury car its fit, finish and appearance are certainly better than low rent. Take one on a test drive. I was pretty surprised about how nice these vans are. I was expecting much less from a tarted up cargo van. It’s a shame there’s such a stigma attached to vans and van drivers because the Transit Connect nails it as being a passenger/utility vehicle.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if other manufacturers bring out passenger versions of their cargo vans but I don’t expect the segment will be anything other than niche.

  • avatar

    In case anyone has forgotten this is essentially a Versa that never left the box it came in and by the time you load it up with people and gear for a family road trip you’d better hope you never encounter anything more than about a ten percent grade because otherwise several aforementioned family members will be getting out to push. On the other hand if it’s destined for nothing other than mall and soccer field duty or the occasional commute then yeah, it would work pretty well.

    I hope Nissan plans on sending FCA a thank-you card for opening this segment up to all those who otherwise would have purchased a Value Package Grand Caravan.

  • avatar

    Could be the e-NV200 as seen on Nissan’s future and concept vehicle page on their website.

  • avatar

    1.8? NV has Sentra’s old 2.0. eNV200 already on sale in Europe with existing body and range anxiety…

    Can’t blame Nissan wanting Transit sales after the Quest.
    The Juke’s 1.6 with turbo would do nicely if they can ween it off premium.

  • avatar

    I cant understand why they would disguise this.

    Do they not know google images exists?

    Its an nv200 with glass and rudimentary seats.

    • 0 avatar

      A lot of times, camouflage is more about the principle than the actual execution.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Nissan has R&D in Michigan, as do many other manufacturers.

      The NV200 was first introduced 7 years and is likely due for an update. These disguised tail lights are in a different, higher position than the current model. The NV200 is available elsewhere with side window glass and up to 7 passenger seating, likely not offered in the US to prevent Quest cannibalization.

      • 0 avatar

        Quest cannibalization? How can cannibalize something if its sales numbers barely register in the first place? For the life of me I wonder how Nissan even justifies its existence at this point.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve started to assume that camouflage has as much to do with covering up unfinished bodywork as it does with protecting trade secrets…

  • avatar

    Is the Nissan CVT actually improved enough to put one in a van. They told me that a luggage rack was enough to void the warranty (nissan cube/cvt) and I cannot even hook up a light trailer for our canoe. I want it to work but with that transmission I don’t see it working for me.

    • 0 avatar

      Can’t speak for the CVT but from what I’ve browsed owner complaints seem to focus more on NV200’s small wheels & tires. The tires wear quickly and are somewhat limited in winter size availability. To get the back-up camera & NAV you have pay for the upper trim. Which includes color coded bumpers and mirrors. Cosmetic touches commercial operators don’t want to pay extra for.

  • avatar

    Look like the current Serena×420.jpg

  • avatar

    Is this sort of Mazda 5 sized? I’m having a hard time telling scale.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    Roughly: same width, 4″ longer, 9″ taller.

    Is the Serena RHD only?

  • avatar
    Point Given

    This could be a future part of the taxi of tomorrow program. NY taxi commission had the requirement for all new cabs to be hybrids which the NV200 Taxi was not when Nissan was awarded the contract.

    This was one of the points brought against the NV200 contract in various lawsuits.

  • avatar

    Speaking of vans, I had a dream where a crew of two and I were facing off against Alex Roy (maybe; it was a dream after all) and another team in the Gumball Rally, and we were all doing it in RVs. Mine was a Renault Espace RV, and while the interior was meh (I was giving the tour to someone with a camera), it seemed fun to drive.

    When it was go time, I drove off the tarmac into a grassy area and did some mad drifting craziness, leaving mud tracks all over the place! I think I may have been bumped by another RV, too.

    Then, I woke up.

  • avatar

    I have never had the chance to see a new release vehicle being tested on the roads like this, but truth to God I’d probably be laughing my heads off that the manufacturer can’t do something a little bit less conspicuous than this to hide its latest release! It looks like it’s wrapped in garbage bags! If they wanted to keep the designs under wraps, surely there’s something else that can be done to make the vehicle stand out less on the roads like this!

  • avatar

    Two of these are _still_ driving around San Francisco. If these are JDM, (and they are RHD) why are they spending _so much time_ driving around in the US?

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