The black cab is based on Nissan's NV200 van platform and while Nissan claims that the vehicle has been designed to closely mimic the lines and styling of a Hackney carriage, the newly released press images suggest it looks more like a black van with a vintage front grille and round headlights.

There is no doubt that underneath the styling the new cab will be much easier to driver, comfortable, safe, compliant and environmentally friendly than the black cabs that currently roam the streets of London -- all things that existing cab drivers have been wanting for years.

As Design Excellence Manager at Nissan Design Europe, Darryl Scriven, said: "The main challenges were concerned with making sure customers can easily recognize it as a taxi. Being in London, we were able to go out and talk to cabbies about what was important to them as well as look at the vehicle from a customer's viewpoint. It's unusual for us to be able to work on something as bespoke as this, specifically for one location in the world and we are very proud to have been asked to do so."

The problem with the existing and well-loved London black cab is that it is made in such small numbers that it is impossible to generate sufficient income from the vehicles to invest in the R&D necessary to continually improve them further. As a result the cars may still look great but underneath they are a hodgepodge of parts from a host of other companies.

So the new cabs sacrifice style for practicality and performance. However, there is also the question of individuality. Black cabs are associated exclusively with London (even if they are also used by other cities around the world), however the Nissan NV200 platform is the same one the company uses to build taxis for New York, Tokyo and Barcelona.

All of which means only its color and the shape of its headlights and grille will distinguish it from similar cabs on the road in the US and Japan.

Nissan intends to follow up the launch of the 1.6-liter petrol taxi with an all-electric version in 2015.