Does anyone remember the movie “Faltu”? Atleast the “chaar baj gaye lekin party abhi baaki hain” song? The reason why we are mentioning this is not due to the song’s popularity or even the movie being a hit or something. It has got more to do with the car that the lead actors are seen driving. It’s a Nissan March or for the Indian car buying public, the Micra. Based on that same car, there is a new sedan is coming up and it’s the 2011 Nissan Sunny in India. Its definitely not a groundsup car like the Vento but it would be more like a model which has been researched and is already in production in the US. Only that it is called as the Versa there and obviously in India, this name cannot be used due to restrictions from Maruti. Well, the Sunny name is also up for a discussion coz Bajaj used to manufacture their own line of scooter named as the Sunny way back in the early 90s.
For starters, Nissan Motors haven’t managed to get a very good foothold of the car market in India. Their saving grace is the small car, Nissan Micra, which unfortunately due to its overpriced proposition, loses out a bit. So, a sedan at a premium of more than Rs 30-40k than its hatched sibling, would definitely mean value for money. Afterall, we Indians definitely love our sedans more than hatches, though the trend seems to be changing as far as buying expensive hatches is concerned. More and more Indians are realizing the benefits of going in for a hatch rather than a sedan and so sales of cars like the i20 and even now the Jazz are on a roll. As of now, the Nissan Sunny nee Versa sells in 2 countries, US and China. The demands of all these markets is of a low cost car which combines space and also has enough gizmos to keep everyone happy. Add India to that and great ride quality and low cost of ownership are thrown in. Only recently did Nissan unveil their 2012 Versa model for the US market and this is the very same model (in looks) which is going to come down to India very soon.
If we wouldn’t have told you that these two are related, you wouldn’t really know. Well, that’s the difference between the Micra and Sunny. Most of the add-on boot job things that manufacturers care to call sedans have the front face of the donor hatchback. Most of the times, it is very difficult to tell apart the sedan from the hatchback, from a distance that is. However, the surprise factor is that the Micra and the Sunny look way apart. Except for the chassis, nothing is borrowed from the Micra, as far as the outside configuration goes. This car seems like more of the Teana. Mini Teana is what it would called as and that is not a bad thing. Any buyer would definitely love to own a mini Teana sans the extra cost that comes with the bigger full sized Teana. Its main comparison, the Logan looks like a box and so does the Etios. However, the Sunny, though not as rounded as the Micra isn’t boxy either. The rear end of this car carries over the typical Teana look but with the hidden tail pipe. Is that a good thing or bad is something which can be ascertained only after the car is launched. The 2011 Nissan Sunny in India would carry over the chrome door handles from the Micra and as is evident, we Indians love chrome. 15 inch wheels with the typical alloy wheel design would also make their presence felt and seen from the side view, this car is sure to be mistaken for the Teana.
In the interiors, there are certain elements of the Micra thrown in like the rounded AC vents, the button knobs and most certainly the inside door handles in chrome. This is where the resemblance starts. The 5 speed gearbox lever also looks familiar. Well, the unbelievable thing is that though this car would compete with the likes of Verito, Dzire, Etios, Manza and stuff, its interior proportions would rival even that of the Toyota Corolla. The new space king would be the 2011 Nissan Sunny in India. Move over Manza coz thou have been dethroned. Presence of cubby holes in the cabin also helps a lot plus the fact that the interiors are the roomiest in its class and one above. Seating for three in the rear is completely fine in this car. The AC vents would also have a different arrangement to them and if Nissan would be kind enough to bring in the climate control system with dual zone function is debatable. The instrument cluster would be a large affair and the steering wheel would be a bit flat bottomed like the one in the Etios. The seating material however, on the first look, seems a tad inferior and hard. Boot space, though not in the same league as the Etios would definitely be competitive. Interior quality would be similar to the one in the Micra and that is something really positive since the Micra is one of the better built small cars in its category.
While the Sunny may look a real deal and practical car for the Indian market, it is the way it drives and performs in the real world that would matter. In this aspect, Nissan have borrowed some cues from their French partner Renault. Sourcing for the components and localizing them to a great extent was done with the help from Renault. Combined with all these factors and the very thing that the Verito is one of the best car in its category as far as the ride quality goes, expect the Sunny to be similar. The car is damped to be on the stiffer side and its only at the low speeds that some road irregularities filter in, though only audibly. However, it is said that once the car achieves decent speeds, there is no knowing what terrain it is running on. Road noise is also reasonably contained for a car which is sold at this price bracket. Due to the extended wheelbase, there is not much of pitching and bobbing happening when sudden braking events happen. All in all, it does behave like its bigger brother, the Teana.
If the ride quality is firm, we can definitely expect the car to corner well and be stable as well. The steering wheel, though electronic in nature, does provide enough feedback to undertake some high speed maneuvers. Something similar to what the Fluence’s steering wheel does. Moreover, there is no floating sensation as can be experienced from the low cost Etios. There is body roll for sure but keeping in mind that it is made for the average customer and not for enthusiasts, there isn’t much feedback from the tyres. Maybe upgrading the tyre size or plonking in fatter rubber would do the trick.
For the engine options, Nissan would once again rely on Renault for the engines. There is supposed to be a new petrol motor displacing 1600 liters and would be packed with technology. There would be variable valve timing present on both the exhaust as also inlet valve. This would guarantee better performance as also the added benefit of fuel efficiency. Moreover the same diesel engine from the Micra would also be present here. The petrol engine would have a power output of 107 Bhp though the torque that would be produced is relatively unknown. For the diesel engine, it would be the same figures as those of the Micra, though there are talks of a variable geometry turbocharger being put into bump in power and fuel efficiency. Both the motors would initially be offered with a 5 speed manual and later on a shocker of a 6 speed CVT. Now, this would be the first in this segment since there are no entry level sedans available with auto transmission. Expect typical Nissan smoothness to the engines with the top end feeling a bit laborious.
For an entry level sedan, Nissan is said to kit the Sunny with ABS and also EBD in the top end variants. Twin airbags, as is the norm would also follow. It would be interesting to note whether Nissan India would kit the diesel engined car with the same safety features as the petrol engined one. There has always being a complacency regarding providing safety kit in the diesel engined variants by various auto manufacturers and Nissan had followed the same trend with the launch of the Micra diesel.
On the pricing front, the 2011 Nissan Sunny price in India is expected to start from Rs 6 lakhs and moving upto the Rs 8 lakhs mark for the top end diesel. If an auto tranny were to follow, then the price would be in Honda City territory. Word is out that the Sunny would be launched in September or the latest by October to coincide with the festive season. Now, we are awaiting more news from you Nissan regarding the launch of this car in India.