Nissan Ultra Low Car {ULC} in India


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Nissan India are on a roll after the launch of the Micra. They now have firm plans to take more pie from the Indian car market. They plan on launching atleast 11 cars in the Indian markets by 2012. This means that we would get the whole SUV range from Nissan as well as few of their built for India and exported to the world cars. One such car would be the Nissan-Renault-Bajaj Ultra Low Cost car or code-named as the ULC. This car would compete with the Tata Nano and the Hyundai H800.

The Tata Nano was a revolution as far as automobiles were concerned. It pioneered a whole new concept that states that cars don’t have to be pricey to be high-tech. Affordable motoring is what Mr. Tata would have called it. The others are, we would say, inspired by his idea and are planning to launch their own versions of the Tata Nano with their own badges. Nissan is one of them. They have partnered with Bajaj to make this small car. Bajaj as we all know, makes exciting motorcycles and the icing on the cake is the affordability at which those are offered. Nissan couldn’t have found a better partner.

The Nissan Ultra Low Car ULC in India would be built, engineered and developed by Bajaj with inputs by Nissan. However the marketing and sales would be the sole bastion of Nissan and Renault alliance. The starting price point of this car is pegged at Rs 1.06 lakhs. That is really a tall order considering that Bajaj’s Kawasaki Ninja 250 bike retails for Rs. 2.75 lakhs. The Nissan ULC  will have a 2 cylinder petrol engine displacing around 634 cc and pumping out 36 Bhp. It would have a mono volume look like the Tata Nano. This actually works on the inside since it liberates much needed head room and in the process leg room for a small car. It is strictly going to be a 4 seater and would be front engined. Bajaj would provide for back-lit instrument switches while Nissan-Renault is said to supply them with engine technology.

Quality would be a notch higher than the Tata Nano as Bajaj would dig into its motorcycles bin and transfer them onto the ULC. Bajaj bikes have been regarded for their quality of workmanship and also reliability. The same should be with the ULC. It is rumored that there would be separate service centers for the ULC and would be managed by Bajaj.

The top speed is said to be limited to 80 km/hr. This means that it would be strictly for city use and can be used on the highway only if you have no other mode of transport and at your own risk. The car would be more efficient than the Tata Nano and would give about 30 kmpl in city use. Highway figures aren’t quoted as Nissan expects that the car wouldn’t be used much on highways. It would sport about 123 liters of boot space as well. This is something from which the Tata Nano shies away from and can be considered a USP of the Nissan Ultra Low Car ULC in India. For the time been, it would be first launched in India and then exported to other markets. It would be made at the Bajaj facility in Chakan, Pune.

This car is expected to be launched around 2012 however Bajaj and Nissan are facing some problem currently regarding the branding of the car and some technical details. Watch out this section for more news on the Nissan-Renault-Bajaj ULC.

Nissan Micra XV test drive


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The baby supermini hatch from Nissan Motors India has been finally launched. It is known by various names across the world like March etc however in India it is christened the Nissan Micra. The earlier production version of the Nissan Micra elsewhere looked much like the Maruti 800 however for 2010, the shape has been given a more rounded profile. Nissan India realizes that Indian market has the potential to be exploited with its given set of opportunities and the first one would be the small car segment. So commercially speaking, Nissan India are right. The Nissan Micra has come at a right time when small cars are just flying off the shelf. Nissan’s global alliance with Renault has ensured that Nissan India has access to Renault’s Chennai facility for making the Nissan Micra. Nissan India’s other launches like the Nissan Teana and the Nissan X-trail are CBUs and hence they aren’t expected to be volume generators. The Nissan Micra fits into the slot perfectly.

Looks

There are 4 variants of the Nissan Micra in India. Those are the base XE, XE+, XL and XV. I as always got to test the top end Nissan Micra XV. Be it in any variant, the look of the car doesn’t change much from the outside. The Micra is as cute as any car can get. Infact, it is one of the cutest cars in India after the Fiat 500 and the much desirable Volkswagen Beetle. The car has a grille resembling that of a half eaten apple whereas the tear drop head lamps acctenuate the cute looks. The much revered striking Nissan logo is placed atop the sloping bonnet. The bonnet is a small unit and one which  guarantees to give one a good view from the steering wheel. It is a deliberate ploy to get all those first time drivers as well as women attracted to the Nissan show rooms.

Moving onto the side profile shows that the Nissan Micra, like the others in its class, looks undertired. Those 14 inchers make the car look smaller than it is. My test Nissan Micra XV had those good looking alloy wheels however the base versions are not so fortunate, making do with steel wheels and in some cases wheel covers. The Nissan Micra XV in India gets body colored door handles and speaking of door handles, you would miss the key slot. Yes, the Nissan Micra XV gets the keyless entry, a first in its segment.The car sits on 4 wheel placed at the 4 corners of the chassis. This gives it a planted feel and something which I would elaborate when I come to the ride and handling section.

The rear profile highlights a quadrilateral shaped glass area. There is also another segment first, a rear windscreen wiper. The boot lid has the hatch opener{not a keyless one though}.

Interiors

That the Nissan Micra XV looks good when viewed from outside is alright however therein lies the fact that you would be spending most of your time inside a car rather than admire it from outside. The rounded design elements are carried forward to the interiors as well where everything is round, save for the rear seats. Even the front seats are rounded. The AC vents are of the round type, the dashboard etc. You name it and it would round. Hell, there is no key fob as well as the Nissan Micra XV in India makes do with a button start and you guessed it right, it is a round one. The plastic pieces are of the soft types and you get inside door handles coated with chrome. The central console is clutter less.

The standard audio system sounds good with its 4 speakers. The seats are made neither of hard nor soft materials. They just seem to hit the right spot. They are made of some polyvinyl material. Been a Chemistry student myself, I could never understand how that makes a seat such good however the fact remains that it is one of the best in the business. There are lots of storage spaces and there is also a double glove box on the curved dash. The dash board is also a highly thought of feature since it has anti-glare properties. Every control and every button falls within easy reach of the driver. This is something which Bollywood starlet Ranbir Kapoor so aptly described in the advertisement for Nissan Micra and its tag line was live simple. The switches all work perfectly. Been a built to price car, some plastics do feel iffy.

The interiors are in a drab black but most of the cars in this segment have the same interiors. The gear shifter unit also looks like it is made of the best quality material. The rear seats are also quite contoured however for the base XE version, the seats are like a flat bench. Unfortunately the seats don’t fold and hence limit the usability of the boot. The boot space is quite usable and one of the best in the segment at 253 liters. There are no suspension mount intrusions and this makes loading the small boot easier.

Handling and ride quality

Based on the global V platform, the Nissan Micra XV has been built with durable yet light in weight materials. It has a kerb weight of 986 kilos and this makes it one of the lightest small cars in the market. To fix to the tight budget, localization of components is upto 80%. The Nissan Micra XV or for that matter any Nissan Micra has been softly sprung and this translates to a good ride quality. The small as well as bigger bumps are dispatched with a disdain. Now, the 4 wheels at 4 corners adage stands good as this leads to better ride quality and gives the Nissan Micra an edge in handling.

The Nissan Micra XV rides like a bigger car and handles like a small one. It is no Suzuki Swift beater however it can be safely said that after the Swift, the next best would be the Nissan. The steering wheel is tuned more for city use. I practically drove it with my finger tips.Once into the highway, the steering doesn’t weigh in nicely and was devoid of any feel. The car however felt very stable at speeds of upto 130 kmph. Its just that it has a slight problem in high speed directional changes. Reverse parking sensors and wide door mirrors help in making parking chores as easy as plucking a leaf from a small tree.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

As of  now, the Nissan Micra XV is been offered only in one engine trim. However I recently heard that Nissan India dealers have been taking bookings for the diesel version which would be out by December 2010. The petrol engine is the 1.2 liter 3 pot motor cranking up 79 bhp @ 6000rpm and 104 Nm of torque @ 4000rpm. Unlike other 3 pot cylinder motors in its class, the Nissan Micra XV is a smooth unit right from idle until its redline. The gear box also feels like a hot knife going through a slab of butter. The gear ratios are also nicely spread out with the first two gears been placed lower for better pick up in the city and the rest three for effortless cruising and economy.

The Nissan Micra XV screams to its redline at 6200 rpm quite effortlessly. Even at this high engine speeds, it’s a silent unit. The accelerator pedal is also cable driven and hence gives more feel while maintaining a lead right foot. The car acclerated from 0-100 in about 13.6 seconds. Its top speed, I attained was158 kmph, quite good for a 3 cylinder motor.

The Nissan Micra XV’s peppy performance is reigned by all wheel disc brakes- again a segment first. The brakes are assisted by ABS, EBD and even Brake Assist. Since the car uses the globally acclaimed V platform, it can be assumed that the chassis is quite competent during crashes. It has been even given a 4 star rating in the Euro NCAP ratings. In India, you get active head restraints, 2 airbags, seat belt pretensioners and 3 point seat belts and all of this only on the XV variant.

Been a small car and one under 4 meters and with a 1.2 liter engine makes the Nissan Micra XV one of the most fuel efficient cars in its class. Our test car gave 14.07 kmpl in city usage where as highway duties saw the economy figures rise to 20.4 kmpl. This is a perfect example of performance with fuel efficiency to match for. This would be manna for the “average kya hain?” public as well.

Verdict

Nissan India are piggy-banking on the Nissan Micra to deliver the goods. The car is reasonably loaded for its class, it has good performance, the looks, is easy to drive and park, best in class fuel efficiency and is a novelty factor as well. What more can one ask for. Probably better quality lower down the mark as well as more standard features on the base variants.Nissan India are also improving their service dragnet by  introducing 3 service centers per month across the metro cities in India. This speaks volumes of their commitment to the Indian customers. Add that to the 5 years anti-corrosion warranty on the Micra, and you cannot go wrong with this car. The base variant{ Nissan Micra XE}starts from Rs.3.56 lakhs {ex-showroom Delhi} to the top end version{ Nissan Micra XV} going upto Rs.5.33 lakhs {ex-showroom Delhi}.

Nissan Micra XV specifications

Engine Type: 3-Cylinder In-line Petrol, DOHC 12-Valve
Displacement (cc): 1197
Bore & Stroke (mm): 78 x 83.6
Max Power (PS)/rpm: 79/6300
Max Torque Nm (kgm)/rpm: 104/4200
Compression Ratio: 9.6
Transmission Type: 5-speed manual
Steering Type: Electric Power Assisted, Rack & Pinion
Min.Turning radius (m): 4.32
Suspension (Front): MacPherson strut with stabiliser
Suspension (Rear): Torsion Beam
Brakes (Front): Ventilated Disc
Brakes (Rear): Solid disc
Tyre size: 165/70R14
Wheels dimensions: 14 x 5.5J alloys
Overall Length(mm): 3784
Overall width (mm): 1666
Overall height (mm): 1532
Wheelbase (mm): 2451
Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 43
Boot Capacity (Litres): 253
Kerb weight in kilos: 986
Seating Capacity (Persons): 5

Chevrolet Captiva vs Nissan X-Trail vs Hyundai Santa Fe


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The Indian soft roader scene has become very tough now. Earlier it was the sole dominion of the Honda CR-V with the occasional fight from the Hyundai Tucson. Later on, the Chevrolet Captiva joined the party and due to its diesel power plant and cheaper price tag, it won over the Indian hearts. Nissan India Limited started their operations in India with their world famous soft roader, the Nissan X-Trail. Due to its highish price, it only found takers in the hotel luxury segment. Now enters the fourth and the most recent player of this segment, the Hyundai Santa Fe. It seems that this SUV was long in the coming and we have been hearing about its impending arrival from the year 2006. However Hyundai Motors India Limited chose to launch this car recently. Now, checking out by the target set by Hyundai Motors India Limited for this car in India, they have already exhausted it. Now, the bookings for this SUV have been temporarily stopped and the company is importing more cars into India. With the launch of this new player, things have evidently heated up and it was obvious that we get them all for a showdown and decide the newest king of the soft roader segment. Since the CR-V is one of the those cars which the Indian public nowadays shuns due to its high price, we didn’t include it in this comparo, however, it is still the benchmark to beat. Also the Mitsubishi Outlander wasn’t available as for a test and hence it had to be ignored as well.

Looks

Chevrolet Captiva- This is one of the best looking soft roaders in this country apart from the Honda CR-V. It muscled stance with those soft looks lend it some sort of character. The pictures don’t do justice to this car and it would seem small however in reality this soft roader is big. Infact it is as big as the Hyundai Santa Fe. The head lamps are quadrilaterals and the Chevy bowtie sits atop the partition in the grille. The fog lamps sit just above the meshed air dam. It has a plastic skid plate to protect the bumper from scratches and rocks. The side profile reveals big outside rear view mirrors with blinkers on them. The 17 inch tyres for the Chevrolet Captiva in India also have some sort of substance in them and this lends them a character. The wheel arches also have a plastic cladding over them. The rear shows a coupe like stance with angular tail lamps. The rear bumper also sports the skid plates under which are located the twin tail pipes.

Nissan X-Trail- This is one boxy looking SUV. It has the typical Nissan grille with brick like head lamps. The air dam is almost absent. The fog lamps are placed at both the sides of the wheels as opposed to in the lower bumper. The 17 inch tyres are also elegant. The wing mirrors are also big but are amongst the smallest in this comparo. The roof rails are also subtle and barely protrude from the roofs. The rear end is particularly boxy and has vertically stacked tail lamps. A black plastic covers up the bumper and a single tail pipe protrudes from underneath.

Hyundai Santa Fe-
The newest kid on the block is actually not so new world across. It is actually the seventh generation one. It has Hyundai’s fluidic concept design elements with a horizontal AC slat grille with oblong head lamps and an air dam which has a big aggressive opening. The fog lamps are housed in their own slats and look very nice. The turn indicators are also located in the outside rear view mirrors. The rear in comparison to the front looks a bit heavy. It has those elongated tail lamps with clear lens. Covering the lower bumper is the black plastic cladding and this houses one or rather two of the largest tail pipes in this segment.

This is a tough one however, overall the Chevrolet Captiva in India wins this due to its easy on eyes look.

Interiors

Chevrolet Captiva- The Chevrolet Captiva features a higher stance than the others in this class and hence climbing up should be a bit of a hassle. However once inside the cabin, you would be greeted with a smart dash board. Brushed aluminium strips contribute to the nicely made up central console. The instrument panel looks simple and is supported by a big steering wheel with the Chevy bowtie resting on it. There is a navigation system, of which, the fonts are illegible in the bright sunlight. Unfortunately the quality of materials used seems inferior to the competition. There are some bad plastic bits abounding in the cabin. The gear lever is also half made of leather and the other half of metal. Powered goodies abound however only the driver gets powered seat. The aircon is one of the talking points in the Chevy and it has a microprocessor which filters particulate matter in recirculate mode. The front seats are comfortable however the rear ones seem a bit lacking in under thigh support. The access to the third row seats is quite easy however these are best left for kids. The boot space is also limited with all the seats up however the gas mounted strut tug lever helps in folding the second row of seats flat.

Nissan X-Trail- This is one of the interiors which is subtle at its best. The first thing that you notice is that this car has hard wearing but soft to touch materials. Its 3 spoke steering wheel is devoid of audio controls. The instrument binnacle is one of the best in this segment for the Nissan X-Trail in India. The driver as well as passengers get heated seats. In a country like India, these are redundant however those living in the cooler climes would welcome this feature. The standard audio system has good sound quality and features aux and USB ports. One of the thoughtful touches in this cabin is that it has a chilled bottle holder. Room in the cabin is also abundant in all the rows. Sorely missing though is the lack of third row of seats. The boot space as a result is huge. It even has a washable plastic floor. The second row of seats also get their own AC controls.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The biggest vehicle on the outside also is bigger from the inside. The front seats are way too comfy and would accommodate the biggest of the frames. The steering wheel is a 4 spoke affair and has cruise control, Bluetooth pairing and also the standard audio controls. The quality of materials used is also un Hyundai like and is of very high quality. This however is no patch for the Nissan X-trail’s cabin. What the Hyundai Santa Fe has in oodles is space and equipment. There is also a roof mounted entertainment system, 6 CD and 8 speaker audio system. However the layout of buttons makes the cabin seem a bit cluttered. The second as well as the third row of seats get their own AC controls. Access to the third row is a bit tricky though and the system is complicated than the simplistic one on the Chevy.

The Hyundai Santa Fe is a heavily loaded vehicle with lots of equipment on offer and space in plenty.

Handling and ride quality

Chevrolet Captiva- Been on a car platform, this means that all these soft roaders are easy going in the city. Starting with the steering wheel, it is light for city use however like all the Chevys in India, the Chevrolet Captiva’s unit doesn’t weight up nicely once the speeds rise. This makes it a bit vague. Been on a raised platform means that the car rolls a fair bit. On the sharp bumps, this translates to an unsettled ride quality. Once the speeds build up, the self leveling suspension works its magic. Overall, this can be called as an average performer in this lot and is nowhere near the segment bench mark, the Honda CR-V. Cornering at sedate speeds is acceptable on this car.

Nissan X-Trail-
This is the most car like to drive in this lot. Its well weighted steering wheel is a delight to use and to even hold in the hand. It makes driving an occasion. The levels of the grip in this car is also quite high than its competition. It has less dive on the roll however the softer suspension does make its presence felt time and again by bobbing up and down. The ride is sort of perfect with its good ride quality at low speeds and sort of nervous ride at high speeds. Cornering is better achieved in the Nissan X-Trail in India since it controls its body roll quite well.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The tallest of all these cars does have a stiffness in its suspension. It is also of the self leveling types. However it is rock solid on the highway and doesn’t get buffeted around due to its sheer weight. Absorbing all of the road imperfections are the tall springs. It also corners well however not in the same ball park as the Nissan X-Trail.

It does show a top heavy feeling however that is to be dismissed considering that people aren’t going to take this to a race track. The steering wheel is typically Hyundai with some of the sensitivity lost at high speeds. This saying, it is better than the Chevrolet’s unit.

This round goes to the Nissan X-trail with the Hyundai Santa Fe following closely.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Chevrolet Captiva- The 4 cylinder 1995 cc turbo charged common rail direction injection diesel motor makes 148 Bhp and 316 Nm of torque. The manual transmission car is offered only with 2 wheel drive mode and hence this means that this car is quick off the block. It has one of the smallest motor and output in this segment. It races from 0-100 kmph in 11.72 seconds. It has a top speed of 176 kmph. The gear box is sort of notchy like the other Chevrolet units but nevertheless slots into gate well. The turbo in this unit is peaky and this means that there is sort of turbo lag at low speeds however get past 2000 rpm and the motor performs with gusto. The motor is also very smooth in its operation.

Hauling this car to a stop are disc brakes both at the front and rear coupled with ABS and ESP. Safety is also taken care by the Chevrolet Captiva featuring collapsible steering wheel, twin air bags and 3 point seat belts. Fuel efficiency due to the shorter gearing is good in the city at 9.5 kmpl and 11.5 kmpl on the highway.

Nissan X-Trail- This car features a 4 cylinder 1995 cc turbo charged, common rail direction injection diesel motor putting out 150 Bhp of power and 327 Nm of torque. It features on demand 4 wheel drive and a 6 speed auto gear box. Both the engine as well as the gear box are a perfect complement to each other. The engine revs sweetly all the way to its 5,200 rpm. This despite it been a diesel. There is little turbo lag however that is dispatched quickly. The clutch action is also quite light and ideal for city driving. The car sprints from 0-100 kmph in only 10.88 seconds and goes on to register a top speed of 201 kmph. This car gets a choice of manual tranny as well. Braking is handled by all wheel disc brakes aided by ESP, traction control and ABS. Safety is taken care by collapsible steering wheel, 6 air bags and also 3 point seat belts.

Hyundai Santa Fe- The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is blessed with a 4 cylinder in line 2199 cc turbo charged engine, common rail direction injection diesel which makes 195 Bhp of peak power and 429 Nm of torque. This is by far the biggest capacity motor in this comparo. It has company in a 6 speed transmission which is slick however not as good as the Nissan X-trail’s unit. This is a dynamo of a motor which powers the 1868 Kg vehicle from 0-100 kmph in 9.61 seconds and reaches a top speed of 190 kmph. The motor is highly refined and doesn’t make one realize the stratospheric speeds that the vehicle is capable of. The only dampener in the package is the heavy clutch which requires a firm shove. Braking is also good however the pedal action needs to be re-calibrated since it requires a push. There is no automatic option as of now however Hyundai Motors Limited India says that they would introduce it very soon. Assisting the powerful disc brakes are ABS, ESP and EBD. The Hyundai Santa Fe in India is also one of the safest SUVs around. It features a roll over sensor, 6 air bags, seat belts with pre-tensioners and a collapsible steering column.

This round squarely goes to the Hyundai Santa Fe.

Verdict

The Indian buyers are spoilt for choices with the number of new or refreshed soft roaders coming their way. Out of the three evaluated here, they have a wide price range difference with the cheapest of the lot been the Chevrolet Captiva followed by the Hyundai Santa Fe and then the Nissan X-Trail. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the latter is the best in this lot. Infact, it sits squarely in the middle. Starting with the Chevrolet Captiva, it is a well rounded package and has the looks to go with all the show. If you are in the market to buy a Captiva now, you would get a discount since the 2011 model is just some days away. Its price for the Indian market for the two wheel drive version is Rs.17.96 lakhs for the two wheel drive manual version whereas for the 4 wheel drive version, it is Rs.21,46 lakhs. The Nissan X-Trail may not seem a logical choice considering the company’s miniscule operations in India however it cannot be ignored since it has many of the good things that one would want in their soft roader. It is very quiet in its operation, has good fuel efficiency and the best of ride, handling package. However its high price of Rs.26 lakhs for the top end 6 speed auto is a dampener. The Hyundai Santa Fe on the other hand is a butch soft roader which can easily pass off for a hardcore SUV. It has got immense road presence, good space, high equipment list and a bomb of an engine. Adding to its immense list of potentials is the fact that it is also one of the safest SUVs around. Its sticker price of around Rs.23 lakhs also make it a sensible buy and hence our choice of soft roader in this segment.

Nissan’s big plans for India


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Nissan Motors India Limited have very big plans of making it in the Indian market. That the company has been in India not long ago, since 2004 is a well known fact however not many would know that the company also has been partnering with Ashok Leyland and making trucks in India. This coalition by the company has been the most successful venture for them. Nissan Motors India Limited have launched both its small car, the Nissan Micra in its petrol version as well as the Nissan Micra diesel recently. Both these cars are runaway success inspite of their slightly high price. The diesel version has so far had about 2.300 bookings in only 2 weeks and deliveries would be done only in January 2011. Its petrol counterpart has registered about 7000 units since its launch 5 months ago. We also know that they are planning on launching new mid size sedan based on the Nissan Micra platform as also many SUVs. One of them is an all new compact SUV which would be based on the Dacia Duster H79 platform. The manufacturing process would be in the company’s facility in Oragadam plant in Chennai. This plant can produce about 15,000 units each year. Nissan has plans to first launch this car in India and then once demands pick up, export it to the other markets in the world, however mostly right hand ones.

Recently in conjuction with their plans, the company has signed two MoUs with the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. This is for comprehensive research in cooperation agreement to support the potential engineers. The Nissan Science foundation which aims to groom the talented students in India through the Nissan Foundation Scholar MoU. This agreement is valid till 2015 and aims to provide financial aid to those selected students. The program is to also give them a short training stint at the Nissan Motor headquarters in Japan. The next step would be to give them a 4 month long internship at the Renault-Nissan alliance R&D facility in Chennai.

Nissan Support Program is the second MoU was done keeping in aim the various Management, engineering, science, social sciences and the humanities aspect with the IIT Madras institute of Engineering. This MoU has been signed by Nissan’s own R&D center in India {RNTCBI} and the sole aim is to have a say in all the development projects and also support research details. The validity of this MoU is till March 2013. On this occasion, Director of Nissan Science Foundation as well as fellow head in Nissan Motor, Haruyoshi Kumura, said that there were couple of collaborative projects in conjuction with IIT Madras. This facilitates the Indian public as well since they can give them financial help and also be exposed to the culture in the Nissan world. There is also chance that a made for India electric vehicle on the lines of the Nissan Leaf would be developed soon. The MoU may just about facilitate it.

Nissan Sunny launch in India


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Nissan Motors India Limited are planning to expand their base in India on a huge basis. That they have launched their small car, the Nissan Micra in India as well as its diesel avatar after a few months is commendable. Not to mention, the resounding success for both the iterations. Not content with it, Nissan Motors India Limited are planning a sedan based on the global V platform, the same platform on which the Nissan Micra is based on. According to the official pictures, it isn’t a hatchback strapped on with a boot like the others{read the Volkswagen Vento, Maruti Swift Dzire and the Tata Indigo Manza} moving around on the Indian roads. The pictures actually show a SX4 like styled and much like the Nissan Teana on a scaled down basis sedan.

Much alluring is the news that this car{maybe or may not be named as Nissan Sunny} would be showcased by Nissan Motors India Limited in the Guangzhou show in China. Internationally, the car is known as Nissan Sunny however in India, that right belongs to Bajaj based on their Sunny scooter. Since Nissan and Bajaj are jointly working on a ULC car for the developing markets, Bajaj may hand over the copyright to the name to Nissan Motors. How it shapes out remains to be seen. This car is an all new grounds-up effort from the company. It features a new nose job, side profile and even a rear. However, overall, it looks more like a scaled down Nissan Teana rather than a more up market version of the Nissan Micra. This car also has new color schemes other than the Nissan Micra. The interiors would be carried over from the small car and the bigger sibling would get its rounded instrument panel, rounded dash and even the same steering wheel with audio controls for the top end version. There would be Bluetooth pairing offered as well.

The wheelbase would be slightly extended from the Micra’s and this would mean more room for passengers at the rear. The flat bench from the Micra’s lower base versions would be removed and new seats with better cushioning would be put. The front seats, since they are more comfortable, would be retained in the sedan version. The boot space would also increase marginally. There would be features galore even in the lower end version. All this means that the weight of the sedan wouldn’t be much and it would be similar to the newly launched Toyota Etios. However Nissan says that they are pitting the sedan against the Volkswagen Vento rather than the Toyota Etios. The light weight of the chassis would enable for a better fuel efficiency, good performance and lower stress on the suspension parts. There would be two engines on offer. The first would be an all new 1498 cc 4 cylinder petrol motor. It will have a peak output of 100 Bhp however its light weight would give it a light footed performance than the Vento. There would also be a 1.4 liter diesel engine which puts 83 Bhp but will have 20.3 kgm of torque. It is expected that fuel efficiency as well as performance would be at par with others in its class if not more. There would be both 5 speed manual as well as automatic transmissions from the onset. The expected price would be Rs.6.5 lakhs for the base manual petrol car and going upto Rs.9 lakhs for the top end automatic transmission. It remains to be seen if the auto transmission would be offered in the diesel as well. The car would be launched beginning of September 2011.

By this time, Nissan Motors India Limited would have already set up atleast 50 service as well as sales outlet. Expected just after this car is the CBU unit, the Nissan Murano which is a full sized SUV and would be priced at approximately Rs.30 lakhs. It would be offered with a diesel motor to start with and once the sales figures take off, based on customer demand, a petrol motor would be introduced as well. Nissan’s other plans include the launch of the Nissan ULC which would be priced below Rs.2.5 lakhs and would compete head on with the Tata Nano and the Hyundai H800. Nissan Motors India Limited are also influenced with the success of BMW India since they have set up shop only 4 years back in India and have as of now recently rolled out their 10,000 vehicle manufactured in India. They also have a higher brand image in India as compared to other markets where both compare at par. As of now, there is no direct product in India that both compete on however with the advent of the Nissan Murano, there would be chances of competition albeit not on price level but on the size. The Nissan Murano would compete against the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and so on.

NISSAN SUNNY TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE: 1500cc Petrol and 1395 cc Diesel

MAX. POWER: 100 Bhp @ 6000 rpm, 88 Bhp @ 4,300 rpm

MAX. TORQUE: 148 Nm @ 4000 rpm, 163 Nm @ 2,300 rpm

BODY TYPE: Sedan

SEGMENT: C+ Segment

FUEL TYPE: Petrol, Diesel

SUSPENSION: McPherson Strut, Torsion Beam

GEAR TRANSMISSION: 5 Speed Manual and 5 speed CVT

L x W x H: 4495 x 1695 x 1445 (mm)

TYRES: 165/70 R 14

BRAKES:

Front:- Disk
Rear:- Drum

STEERING: Electronically Power assisted

SEATING CAPACITY: 5

TANK CAPACITY: 43 Liters

PRICE: Rs. 6.5 lakhs to 9 lakhs {Estimated}

2011 Nissan NV200 in India

Introduction – Nissan NV200 Review

Nissan Motors has enjoyed good success in the Indian market with the well received and highly successful small car Micra. The car manufacturer riding on this success is planning on introducing a whole range of cars in to the Indian market by the year 2012. One if these is the very impressive multi purpose vehicle the Nissan NV200. Nissan NV200 in India is manufactured with collaborative efforts from Ashok Leyland and when released later this year, should compete with the low end people mover from Toyota, the Avanza, as well as Suzuki’s APV.

The 2011 Nissan NV200 will be released with both petrol and diesel engines and should suit the MPV market nicely. The Nissan NV200 was the recipient of “International Van of the Year” award in 2010 and will aim to also take on vehicles like the Toyota Innova, Tata Aria and Mahindra Xylo. Expected to start at prices around the 9 lakh mark the Nissan NV 200 will come either as a people carrier or a commercial van. The people carrier will feature rear windows and will be termed as the Wagon 16S, while the commercial van will be recognized as Van GX.

Performance – Nissan NV200 India

Initial reports coming out of Nissan motors reveals that the 2011 Nissan NV200 will be offered in both petrol and diesel variants. This should suit the Indian market well and offer multiple options though the diesel version is expected to be the better selling one. The petrol version of the NV200 will use a 1.6 liter HR16, 4 cylinder engine and will generate 108 horsepower with maximum torque of 153 Nm. The petrol engine will be a five-speed manual transmission and is the same one that is currently used in the Nissan Micra and soon to be released Nissan Qashqai.

The diesel version of the NV200 will use a 1.5 dCi, 4 cylinder engine that will put out 86 horsepower and a peak torque of 200 Nm. It will be configured to a five-speed gearbox and is very zippy when unladen.

The torque power in the NV200 is also nice giving it a good power range and allowing for quick acceleration in slow moving traffic. The gearbox in either of the versions is smooth and enables quick shifts, which lets the driver enjoy a comfortable drive. This new entry from Nissan is as easy to drive in congested traffic as well as on the highways.

In city traffic the NV200 feels almost like a car and handles very nimbly and accurately. The response of the steering is direct and precise and the suspension is tuned to provide a comfortable ride. The 2011 Nissan NV200 comes with MacPherson strut suspension in the front and a single leaf spring rear axle. The struts used have cut down on interior noise levels by using a sub-frame mounted system with rubber mounts. Engineers at Nissan have minimized body roll when cornering by fitting a front anti-roll bar which is connected directly to the strut assembly. The ride comfort in the NV200 is further enhanced by the use of ripple control shock absorbers and drivers will love the fact that it also has power steering making it much easier to drive in heavy traffic conditions.

The Nissan NV200 has a fuel tank capacity of 55 liters and is expected to deliver a city mileage of 20 km/l and highway mileage of 23 km/l. The length of the Nissan NV200 is 4400 mm, height is 1850 mm and its width is 1695 mm. The international version of the NV200 is available with 2 person, 5 person and 7 person seating depending on the model. There is no confirmation about the seating capacity of the Nissan NV200 in India yet but the 7 seater will definitely be sold here.

Styling

The Nissan NV200 is a great combination of good looks and functionality. You would not normally think of a van in terms of design and style, but with the introduction of the Mercedes R-class styling and design in the van segment have now become a desired feature.

The NV200 will be Nissan’s first foray in the MPV segment in the Indian market and it has all the essential features required in a van. Being a van it is likely to be used for a variety of uses and keeping this in mind Nissan have fitted durable plastic in the interiors and exteriors as well.

The front of the vehicle has V-shaped chrome grille that moves into the wide positioned, diagonally slanted headlights. The front fascia has a short hood and the windshield slopes steeply up from it towards the high roof line. The hood is indented with dual lines and the front bumper incorporates the fog lights.

The rear of the NV200 is also sweetly designed with a broad tailgate that opens wide and ensures easy loading of any materials. The rear window has a reverse viewing mirror attached to it to allow the driver to see near the rear bumper while reversing.

The interiors of the NV200 as simplistically designed keeping in mind the multiple uses of the vehicle. As I mentioned earlier there is evidence of hard, durable plastic everywhere which is sure to withstand the weight of most cargo. The durable plastic adorns the dash, door panels, center console a well as the door handles, window trim, rear doors, floor surface and wheel arches. This plastic also helps to give the Nissan NV200 an increased amount of inside space.

Mentioning space the NV200 employs a semi elliptical leaf spring at the rear axle and this has a two fold advantage. Firstly it allows for cargo to be spread over the wheelbase and ensures that extra load can be carried. Secondly the leaf spring fitting is compact and increases the amount of cargo space.

The front cabin of the NV200 is designed mainly with a view to maximize driver comfort and the dash is designed just for this purpose. The centre console houses the climate controls as well as the audio controls and the lower part of it incorporates the gearbox. The Nissan NV200 is bigger than its rivals and provides lots of space for all occupants. The telescopic and tilt steering wheel gives the driver every option of getting the most comfortable seating position for himself.

The rear cabin of the NV200 is where the best features of the NV200 stand out. Featuring the best cargo capacity among its rivals the NV200 has a maximum payload volume of 751 kg. The rear cabin also features rear a/c vents that ensure rear passengers enjoy as much of a comfortable ride as the front two. The middle seat at the rear has a 60:40 fold function and all the rear seats can be folded completely to give a larger storage space.

Safety features in the Nissan NV200 as also up to standard with all fleet vehicles on the roads today and the NV200 comes with anti-lock brake system, Electronic Brake Force Distribution with Brake Assist, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP), central locking, parking sensors and fog lamps.

Pricing and Recommendations

Nissan is expected to launch the NV200 at around the 9 lakh mark but depending on features available this could go either way. It will only be available in India with one design and that too has not been revealed.

The Nissan NV200 is the most spacious MPV available on the international market presently winning international awards and is most likely to do well in the Indian fleet market. It has all the necessary comfort and safety features that make it desirable as well being sprightly and agile in traffic. The fact that it has a power steering will really entice buyers in India who find the congested traffic a real pain in the proverbial behind.

The Nissan NV200 is also very fuel efficient and this is another fact that will make potential owners happy as it is expected to give 20 km/l in the city and 23 km/l on the highway. Ride and handling is also one of the best in its class and the vehicle responds well no matter what sort of road surface.

The Nissan NV200 looks likely to continue the success enjoyed by the Micra and it seems that Nissan has really done its homework when it came to introducing its range of models to the Indian market. They have ticked all the right boxes concentrating on fuel efficiency as well as pricing to attract Indian buyers. Only time will tell if Nissan is to become one of the best selling car manufacturers in India, but till now it sure looks like it.

2011 Nissan NV200 India Specifications and Price

Vehicle Category: MPV
Engines (petrol): 1.6 L, 4-cyl, 16 valve, 108 HP, 153 Nm torque
Engines (diesel): 1.5 L, 4-cyl, dCi Turbo, 85 HP, 200 Nm torque
Drive train: Front engine, 7 passenger, MPV, FWD
Transmissions (standard): 5-speed manual
Ground Clearance: 520 mm
Mileagecity/hwy: 20 / 23 kmpl
Nissan NV200 Price: Rs.9 – 11 lakhs(est.)

Nissan Micra diesel launch in India


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The long awaited hidden weapon in Nissan Motors India Private Limited arsenal has been finally unleashed. Yes, the Nissan Micra diesel launch in India which was impeding has been finally launched on 10th December 2010. Now, it is well known that the Nissan Micra, inspite of shortage of dealers is just flying off the shelfs. That it sold more than 4000 units since the time it was launched three months back is testimony to the fact. This is not counting the exports which have been so far very good for the Nissan Micra model. Now that Nissan Motors India Private Limited have launched the Nissan Micra diesel, nothing better than to check out the new car and give you a report of the first drive.

Look wise, the car hasn’t changed much from its petrol brethren. The only visual differentiators are those snazzy looking 6 spoke alloy wheels and the Dci badging at the rear. Why the petrol variant lacks the alloy wheels is still unknown. Inside the cabin, the gear shifter has changed a bit and it now has that polished metal look to it. The top end version gets two air bags, a fabulous sounding stereo system with aux input{I played Sheela Ki Jawani on it……………….hehe} and automatic AC. The seats as always are comfortable however the steering wheel is only height adjustable however the point is that the seat themselves are not adjustable for height. Because of the heavy diesel motor, the clutch has been also beefed up. This makes it heavier on the left foot. Wish Nissan Motors India Private Limited had given an automatic transmission to this car. Sigh! The gearbox in the Nissan Micra diesel is quite precise and easy to operate just like the petrol motored one.

Because of the heavy diesel motor, front suspension has been beefed up and this means that the car rides good over bigger bumps however it’s the small ones which upset this small car. Overall, in the 5 kilometers or so that I drove the Nissan Micra diesel, the ride quality was better than its rival, the Maruti Suzuki Swift. The noise insulation was also okay however at high speeds, engine as well as wind noise is quite apparent. The interiors are roomier than the Swift as well. However the seats feel a bit lacking in the cushioning department. This might be as a result of the cost cutting measure done by the company and one which needs immediate attention.

The engine doing duties in the car is the result of the Renault Nissan alliance. It is borrowed from the Renault Logan. The engine is a 1.5 liter one with 4 cylinders, SOHC, common rail making 64 Bhp of power and 160 Nm of highest torque. This is approximately 12 Bhp less than its nearest rival, the Suzuki Swift, however the Nissan Micra diesel, at 1008 kg is lighter by the latter by 67 kgs. The motor, as I know from the much heavier Renault Logan, is a sprightly performer. It delivers power in a linear way and though in the short run, I couldn’t test the 0-100 figures, I am sure it would be in the same ball park as the Suzuki Swift diesel. This was seconded by Nissan Motors India Private Limited’s claim of 15.1 seconds. Puttering around in town of speeds upto 30 kmph in 3rd gear showed no stress or stall from the engine. It seems that the engine is more tuned for city driving however I will reserve this comment until I conduct a full road test on the car. The turning radius is still 4.65 meters and this means its too easy to chuck this car. Parking is a hoot in this car.

Now, this car claims to deliver the best mileage amongst small cars. The ARAI derived figure is 23.08 kmpl. This makes it to easily beat the Swift diesel’s mileage figures of 21 kmpl. The icing on the cake is that the Nissan Micra diesel price starts at Rs.5,80000 {ex-showroom, Delhi} and goes upto Rs.6,37000 {ex-showroom, Delhi} for the top end variant. By the way, the Nissan Micra diesel is only offered in two variants and those are the Nissan Micra diesel XV and the Nissan Micra diesel XV premium.

Technical Specifications Of Nissan Micra Diesel XV Premium

Engine details: 1.5L, In-Line Diesel Engine 4 Cylinder, 8 Valve, SOHC
Engine Displacement(cc): 1461
Maximum Power: 64 PS at 4100 rpm
Maximum Torque: 160 Nm at 2200 rpm
Compression Ratio: 17.9
Bore x Stroke: 76 X 80.5
Transmission: 5 Speed Manual
Front Suspension: McPherson Strut
Rear Suspension: Torsion Beam
Steering Details: Electric Power Assisted Rack and pinion
Front Brake Type: Ventilated Disc
Rear Brake Type: Drum
Turning Radius (wheel base): 4.65 meter
Mileage-Highway (kmpl) ARAI: 23.08
Fuel Tank Capacity (litres): 43
Emission Norm Compliance: Bharat Stage IV
Tyre Size: 175/60 R15 Tubeless Radial
Alloy Wheel Size: 15X5.5J
Seating Capacity: 5 Passengers
No of Doors: 5
Cargo Volume: 261 Liters

Nissan X-trail test drive


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Nissan Motors India Limited are looking to expand their portfolio of cars in India and clearly want to gain a market share with the burgeoning car market in India.They first launched the Nissan X-trail soft roader in 2004. Now, after 6 years, Nissan Motors India Limited thought of giving the Nissan X-trail a refresh. Now, I was always a fan of the X-trail and its capabilities. The only sore thumb in this wonderful package was the high price and not the X-trail vehicle in itself. Since Nissan Motors India Limited offered to loan me their new SUV for a drive, I was all bonkers for it and immediately agreed. After all spotting a Nissan car on the road is as difficult as spotting a Dodo on Indian soil. I jumped at the opportunity and presented myself at their Chennai facility. Here is what happened on the road with me and the Nissan X-trail for company.

Looks

Not much has changed from the earlier Nissan X-trail to the new one. The looks are more rounded now and the head lamps are made up of Bi-Xenon projector lights. The lens variety used is also polycarbonate and clear. The honey comb grille features two vertical slats which are finished in chrome and have the lightning Nissan logo sandwiched between them. The nose job speaks of aggression. The fog lamps are 3D slotted now. It still feels boxy though. This though, does have its own usefulness in the way space has been amplified inside.

From the side profile, one can see the high wheel arches as well as big windows. There are body colored outside rear view mirrors and they have the indicator lights embedded into them. The 215/65 R17 Bridgestone Dueller alloys fill the wheel arches well and are in a class of their own.

The rear profile shows vertically stacked clear lens head lamps, typical of SUVs. One of my colleague commented on it that it looked like a Christmas tree. Couldn’t agree with him more. The high mounted tail lamp sits atop the roof spoiler. There are roof rails as well which look tasteful with body colors. The rear glass is also big and a lone wiper and washer do duties there. Overall, the Nissan X-trail does lack the presence that you would so associate at this price point in India.

Interiors

The interiors of the Nissan X-trail are as spacious as any SUV in its class. They have leather seats as standard. They were so good in their bolstering and hug that I firmly believe that Nissan can teach all those sofa makers a thing or two about making seats. The dash design looks a bit plain but it is made of soft touch materials and have a premium feel to it. The cup holders are located in a very different style and just above the AC vents. The standard fare is a 6 CD changer, powered and heated seats for front passengers with 6 way memory functions, climate control with rear seat passengers having their own AC vents and a huge sun roof. The second row of seats is also quite comfortable for three passengers. The boot is split and quite spacious, more so than the Honda CR-V. It also has a luggage cover so that all your luggage doesn’t bounce around. These are all removable and washable as well. The rear seats feature a 60:40 split arrangement and this makes the boot space even more bigger than it already was. Nice touches abound in the cabin.

Handling and ride quality

The Nissan X-trail has McPherson Strut suspension in the front and multi-link system at the rear. This provide quite a pliant ride quality both on the terrain and off it. There is also minimal amount of vibration while the car is going through mid-sized pot holes. The handling of the SUV is at par with that of the Honda CR-V though the steering is a bit artificial in its operation. Nevertheless it has good feedback dialed into it and makes parking as well as reversing chores easy.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

All the changes to the new Nissan X-trail are under the skin. A new 1995 cc Crdi motor does duties now. Don’t be disappointed as it now makes more power than the old 2.2 liter engine, precisely 140 Bhp @ 5,300 rpm and about 33.4 Kgm of torque @ 2,100 rpm. The gear box is a 6 speed manual with nicely spaced out gear ratios. The Nissan X-trail races from 0-100 kmph in a scant 10.2 seconds. Be it in the city or on the highway, the Nissan motor never feels strained and is very quiet in its operation.The gear box is also a sweet shifting unit which actually helps the tractable motor in its work.

The Nissan X-trail reached a top speed of 163 kmph and is in line with the factory claims of 171 kmph. Braking is dutifully done by 4 wheel disc brakes along with the usual electronic nannies like ABS, Brake Assist and EBD. Safety is handled by the self leveling head lamps, dual Supplementary Restraint System (SRS) airbags and the side torsion beams.

Fuel efficiency was also quite good with the Nissan X-trail returning 11.4 kmpl in the city and 16.2 kmpl on the highway run. This and the diesel running costs would ensure that the Nissan X-trail is cheap to run. Nissan Motors India Limited are going to launch 8 new show rooms per month and this would certainly widen the appeal for Nissan cars.

The Nissan X-trail is a CBU unit and hence it is a costlier option. There are three trim levels available. They are Comfort, X-pecial and Elegance. Prices start from Rs.20.3 lakhs {ex-showroom, Delhi} for the Comfort and going upto Rs. 25.2 lakhs {ex-showroom, Delhi} for the Elegance trim.

Nissan X-trail specifications

Engine Configuration: 1997 cc 4 cylinder DOHC Crdi
Maximum power:
140 BHP @ 5800 RPM
Maximum Torque:
196 NM @ 4800 RPM
Fuel Type:
Diesel
Gears:
6
Transmission:
Manual/ 6 speed automatic
Fuel Capacity:
65.0 Liters
Seating Capacity:
5
Doors:
4
Length:
4631 mm.
Width:
1787 mm.
Height:
1695 mm.
Wheelbase:
2730 mm.
Front Track:
1520 mm.
Rear Track:
1539 mm.

Suspension:
Front:
Independent, Mac Pherson Strut
Rear: Independent Multi-link
Steering: Rack and Pinion with Electronic Power Assist
Tyres: 215/65R17 Alloy wheels

Nissan Murano Preview

Nissan India have been on a roll since their success with the bread and butter Micra model. They are to shoe-horn a diesel version into it shortly to increase the sales. Coming on the heels of the Micra Diesel would be a slew of SUVs. First amongst them would be the widely acclaimed Nissan Murano. Now, we aren’t sure if they would retain the same name for the SUV in India since their Altima was changed to Teana in India whereas the March was named as Micra. Nissan India is desperate to taste success in India like their more successful endeavors elsewhere. The Murano is one of them.

Murano name is derived from Venice, Italy. This particular place was known for production of hand blown glass and the expertise with which it was conducted. Now, we don’t know the connection as to why it hand blown glass and name of an SUV should coincide.

The New Nissan Murano is one of the crossover SUVs that was brought to the showrooms world-wide by Nissan in 2002. Surprisingly, it uses the same platform as the Nissan Teana in India. After the Murano, Nissan went onto introduce the X-trail and the Rogue. For India, the X-trail has been launched with moderate success whereas you would be hard pressed to see a Teana in the Indian streets.

Looks

No other SUV in India looks like the Murano. Not until the Lexus range is introduced. Butch looks alongwith a typical robustness missing from even the Audi Q7 justifies the front end. The point is that we aren’t sure if it’s the newly launched 2011 model or the older 2010 model that would be coming to India. If it’s the former, the aforementioned looks are apt whereas if it’s the 2011 model, then those looks have been entirely changed. Nissan have been known to alter the Murano’s face and interiors every production year.

Assuming it is the 2010 model that would be launched in India, you get a flaring bumper with a 3D grille job. The grilles as stacked vertically with a slant and they make way for the Nissan corporate logo. Behind the logo, you will find a honey combe grille. Besides the grille are the wrap around head lamps which house bi-xenon and LED lined head lamps. The bumper is neatly integrated with the grill and houses a low profile air dam. You will find two powerful tear drop shaped fog lamps embedded in the bumper. A lower skid plate completes the picture.

The long hood as well as big glass area look good on this crossover. The wing mirrors are huge and are in the Landcruiser territory. The side profile is bland save for a running footboard and a huge crease running from wheel to wheel. Speaking of wheels, they are of the standard 20 inch types. The alloy wheels design is also quite tasteful to look at and they do the job of filling the wheel arches well. The door handles are of the pull type variety and imbibe a sense of heaviness when you tug them. The roof rails are of the chrome type and have a centrally placed radio antenna. As with any crossover, there is a rear quarter glass and the tail lamps extend all the way to the side profile.

Cut to the rear profile and the Murano looks totally revolutionary. It has got to have the best rear in any Indian car across segments, so far. The tail lamps cluster is of the LED type and have a sort of lightning streak design to them. The reverse lights are split by the tastefully done bootlid. The rear glass has a single wiper stalk and the glass area is big as compared to the side ones. The stop lamp is mounted high on the roof. The bumper is protected by an aluminium skid plate and houses two tail pipes, one on each side.

Interiors

As we have seen with X-trail,Altima nee the Teana, Nissan have first rate interiors for their cars. The Murano is no different and actually sports a higher trim level than the aforementioned. The steering wheel is a four spoke affair and houses prominent buttons for the navigation, cruise controls and audio. The dashboard is of the flowing types and it has a centrally mounted touch screen navigation system which even doubles up as audio system. It even features Idrive like rotary knob alongwith a slew of side buttons. The good thing is that the dash doesn’t look cluttered and everything seems at the beck and call of the driver.

As with the X-trail and Teana, you get perforated leather seats, ambient lighting in the footwells and cubby holes, audio and climate controls swathed in chrome. The seats are comfortable and have a 8 way adjustment alongwith memory functions. The steering as is the norm is adjustable for tilt, rake and reach. Dual zone climate controls also pamper the rear passengers with separate AC controls and vents for them. The Bose audio system is of a high quality and has 11 speakers attached to it. It is very hard to find fault with the Murano’s cabin and the saying that “tough outside but soft inside” fits the Murano to the T.

The rear can seat three in quite comfort and has good leg room. However head room may be an issue for tall passengers because of the coupe like sloping roof line. The seats can be split 60:40 accomodating for more of the luggage if the 550 liters boot space wasn’t enough.

Handling and ride quality

Since we haven’t test driven it, we wouldn’t be able to comment much about it however the international spec Murano’s have an all independent wheel suspension which should pretty much sort out the ride and handling stakes. The front fork is of the independent strut type and multi-link independent comprises the rear one.

This combination has worked well on the butter smooth roads of Europe as well as the pot-holed ones of Japan and so should work well in India as well where finding more of the former is a rarity.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

Indian bound Murano’s would have the 3.5 litre, 3498cc, V6 petrol engine. This is the same engine which is there even on the European and North American markets. Its peak power is 252 hp at 6,000 rpm and the maximum torque churned out is 334 Nm at 4400 rpm. Now, we would have to wait and see if they detune the engine in regards with Indian fuel. A diesel would do more of the trick and Nissan would in all likely start with a diesel model in India.

Performance figures for the European Muranos read as 0-100 kmph in 8.0 seconds. If the similar specced Murano comes to India, it would be a scorcher SUV as far as performance goes. The fuel efficiency for the petrol would be ideally 8 kmpl in the city and 14 on the highway.

The transmission is a 6 speed CVT with manual override functions and if at a diesel is launched, it would have the 6 speed manual. The Murano would have a electronically limited top speed of 236 kmph.

Braking would be handled by Disc brakes on all the four wheels. It is supported by 4 channel ABS, Brake assist, Electronic stability program and EBD.

On the safety front, the SUV would feature 6 airbags, seatbelts with load pre-tensioners, a lane change assist, active front head restraints and a crashworthy body.

Verdict

The Nissan Murano in India is one of those few awaited SUVs. It would be a tough competitor to the likes of Audi Q7, BMW X5 and Mitsubishi Montero. However the things not going Nissan’s way are its lack of dealerships and service center, general awareness about Nissan’s products in the car buying public’s minds and brand image. But, if you buy a Nissan, you would be buying refinement at its best, performance that would blow you away and an interior that would pamper you no matter in which mood you are.

Nissan Murano Price is expected to be around Rs.37,00000 –Rs.49,00000 and would be launched around May 2011.

Technical specifications

Engine: 3498cc, DOHC, V6 Petrol
Gears: 6 speed CVT with manual override
Maximum Power: 252 Bhp @ 6000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 334 Nm @ 4400 rpm
Width: 1882 mm
Length: 4787 mm
Height: 1729 mm
Steering: Tilt and telescopic
Seating Capacity: 5
Tyre Size: P235/65 R20
Suspension: Independent strut, Multi-link independent
Brakes: Front Ventilated, Rear Disc

2010 Nissan Micra diesel – Preview


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Nissan India started their operations in India just 5 years back in 2005. The first vehicle they launched was the X-trail which was a CBU and still is unabashedly so. Their second launch was the luxury yacht type car, the Teana. The third one is bread and butter, a volumes seller- the Micra. Having Ranbir Kapoor to convince you to buy the car was a good ploy as Nissan Micra cars are just flying off the shelf. It has been reported that about 2200 bookings were already done when Nissan dealers couldn’t even let you know the pricing for this car.

After having tasted success with the petrol only model Micra, Nissan plans to expand its reign by introducing a 2010 Nissan Micra diesel. Now, it is for sure that Indians have a fixation for diesel cars, take for example the fact that the Swift diesel, Indica Vista diesel and even the Linea diesel outsell their petrol counterparts from the time of their launch.

The motor Nissan plans to introduce is the 1461cc, 4 cylinder in-line from their international line-up of cars. It will produce a puny 64 Bhp and 155 Nm of torque. All this torque would be available from as low as 1,800 rpm to 3,200 rpm. One thing is for sure, the diesel has got to be the most refined in its class and apart from that offer stellar fuel economy figures, but all that would have to wait till it is launched. Alongwith the new diesel engine, the car will get some revisions, not so notably on the styling front but with some interior features as standard. The New Nissan Micra diesel interior left some desiring for more especially at this price point and the diesel hopes to remedy those. The wheels are still of steel types and there may not be the alloys even on the options list.

The diesel would be competitively priced from Rs.5,30000 or so. This would put it straight in the swift territory. Nissan has already increased its dealerships to about 20 across India and has plans of adding 3 dealers every month.

ENGINE SPECIFICATIONS

Displacement: 1461cc, 4 cylinder in-line DOHC

Engine Type: Diesel

Maximum Power: 64 Bhp @ 4000 rpm

Maximum Torque: 155 Nm @ 2000 rpm

GIRTH

Length: 3790 mm

Width: 1565 mm

Height: 1540 mm

OTHER SPECIFICATIONS

Seating Capacity: 5

Tyre Size: R13 steel wheels

Suspension: McPherson Struts

Turning Circle: 4.1 metres

Steering: Electronic Power

Brakes: Front Disk, Rear Drum

Gears: 5 speed Manual

Kerb Weight: 1020.00 kgs.

Fuel Tank: 44.00