Yep. It is time for another useless and unfair comparison, and this one’s between the Nissan NP200, and the now orphaned Chevrolet Utility. Unfair, I know, but here is the problem. Since Chevrolet decided not to operate in SA anymore, the playing field has been left wide open, leaving only the NP200 as an option if you want a light delivery vehicle.
Why compare it to the Chevy Utility then? Well, you can still get a quality used model with reasonable mileage. If you manage to get a newer one, Chevrolet will honor the service plan, and will still provide parts for “at least the next 10 years”.
It’s like that friend who always comes through for you, even if you haven’t spoken in years
Now there are other alternatives, like the Fiat Strada, and opel Corsa Bakkie (both new and older), but for the purpose of this article, these are the only two new(ish?) options available.
I have looked at the Volkswagen Caddy, but A) it isn’t a bakkie, and B) It is expensive, tipping the price scale at about R 270,000.
Off to this comparison then. I will be looking at the both the base models, and basically compare the two, using their picture heavy brocures.
Both are no bad looking, however I feel the NP300 looks dated. The Chev Utility has a lot going for it with the Detroit Style grill and integrated step plates. My pick would be the Chev as it looks less commercial than the NP200.
Features are not common when it comes to the base model. None of these two has an Aircon, and offers a radio as an optional extra. The Chev does offer a list of features as standard from here on, including follow me home lights ( the lights automatically stay on for a few seconds after the car is locked), tinted windows, lockable tailgate, ABS, and EBD.
It is then very clear the Chev takes the prize on this one. It is also very likely that should you consider the Chevrolet Utility, it will have a radio installed, seeing as it will most likely be a second hand vehicle.
The Chev also seems to be better equipped safety wise, having a driver and passenger airbag where the NP200 does not. On the higher end of the model range, the NP200 and the Chev does offer more or less the same features, however, there are a few things that still makes the Chev still offers that the NP200 does not. The NP200 does offer a fully rubberized loadbox as standard.
This round goes to the Chev.
Here’s the thing. Both these vehicles are built with two completely different markets in mind. They have to cater to the commercial market, as well as leisure. Balancing the use of materials with costs can, and will be challenging, and will make it rather unfair as I do not have any data on which market these vehicles was , or is focusing on.
Both these vehicles shows a clear indication of where they hail from. The Nissan NP200 is a very, very (older) Renault, while the Chev Utility is very, very Daewoo. This basically means both is plastic. The Chev feels better to the touch, and it seems like it was finished off better as well, but the NP200 does not compromise on the quality “feel” it offers.
The NP200 does take a much more traditional approach in the way it looks, and it does offer some space behind the seats to put a bag or two.
The difference in the end is up in each person’s individual taste. I prefer the Chev, but many people I have talked to say the NP200 is just fine the way it is.
This section seems to end in a tie.
The Chev clocks in at 68kW @ 6,000rpm, while the NP200 sits at 64 kW @ 5,500 rpm. Not much of a difference considering the Chev is a 1.4 and the NP is a 1.6. Both these models has a simple 8v setup, and having a 4kW difference will not be noticeable at all.
When looking at the torque, the NP200 is stronger, making 128nM @ 3000, while the Utility manages 120nM @ 3,200 rpm
Looking across the board on all models offered, or on offer, the NP200 has to take this round. If you look at the figures published in the Brochure, the NP200 seems like it will handle a load a little better than the Chev Utility.
It is a bakkie, and it will be used to load things. The NP200 does offer 20cm more than the Chev lengthwise, and 10cm more in depth. The NP200 pulls ahead in this section, allowing for a total of 580kg unbraked towing. The Chev only manages 525kg.
When it comes to carrying capacity, the Chev is able to handle 763kg, while the gross laden axle mass of the NP200 reads 1160. I have no idea how to work out the math, but it seems, more or less, of being able to handle around 800kg.
There is another thing that comes into play. Nissan has produced small bakkies since somewhere in the 60’s.
This round goes to the NP200.
For those fortunate enough not to have driven a bakkie, let me fill you in on something. No matter how much you try, the ride quality will always be lacking in some form of comfort. It is bouncy, and sometimes harsh, due to the lack of weight over the back wheels. So unless you are always going to lug around around 150kg just to improve ride quality, don’t expect much.
With the above being said. The Chev does really feel more like a car than a bakkie. It feels tighter around the curves, and handles more like its hatch equivalent. You could be forgiven for thinking you are actually driving a car.
The NP200 has tried to solve the ride quality issue by changing the rear suspension setup. It does offer a smoother ride than you would expect, but it still doesn’t feel like the Chev. It also has that typical clunky gear and clutch setup, making it feel older than it is, but in the bigger picture, the NP200 does have its own set of charm.
When I started this comparison, I did say it was unfair. You simply cannot compare two cars against each other using nothing but the brochures, a quick drive and nothing but memory, you also cannot judge properly if you are comparing a used vehicle vs. a new one. It just doesn’t work that way, even if the playing field was equal.
My pick would be the NP200, purely because it is still in production. I also know that you don’t need any fancy tools to work on it yourself. I know it is reliable, hardworking, and loyal. It’s like that friend who always comes through for you, even if you haven’t spoken in years. The NP200 can be called the distant cousin of the only LDV that was ever worth looking at.
The Nissan Champ.