As New York is synonymous for its yellow cabs, London is well known for its iconic black taxis. Unfortunately, the word iconic is mutually exclusive from attractive in this instance -- the functional taxis are spacious and feature an incredibly tight turning circle for navigating the city's narrower streets, but beauties they aren't.
Enter Nissan, then, fresh from reinventing the New York cab with its yellow NV200 van, to apply its own design to London's black boxes. The Japanese companu debuted a black version of the NV20 on the city's streets last year, drawing praise and passing regulations ahead of a general release. It wasn't the most interesting of designs, but it was as functional and modern as a slab-sided vehicle can be.
Fast forward to today, and things are drastically different. Thanks to some meddling by the mayor's office and London cab drivers, Desperate to customize the cab to London, rather than take a straight copy of the New York version, they worked with Nissan's European design centre to slice the front off and attached what can only be described as an abomination in its place. With round, LED headlights, a reshaped front bumper and a new grille, Nissan have somehow managed to craft possibly one of the most awkward, ugly vehicles I've seen in recent memory.
The redesign also brings a tight, 25-foot turning circle and offers a 1.6-liter gas engine that's cleaner than the diesels in current cabs, but really, when it's this awful to look at, do we care how useful and environmentally-friendly it is? The Brit-spec NV200 will go on sale at the end of this year, though hopefully cab drivers will be sensible enough to look elsewhere at less disturbing options.
Nissan's New York Taxi
Nissan's original (and more attractive) design
The classic black cab