Innova has been earning bread and butter for Toyota from day one, the Mahindra Xylo still remains distinctly popular with its space and comfort and the response to Maruti Ertiga has even taken Maruti by surprise. All this points towards accelerating demand of MPVs in India and to cash the market Nissan has just rolled out its own member, the Nissan Evalia. But the question is that is Evalia something that an MPV buyer wants in term of space and comfort?
MPVs are more about the space and comfort rather than styling, which is quite true for Evalia which will not find too many followers for its peculiar design. However, the frontal styling looks nice thanks to its grille that flows to its headlamps. But when you look it from side, Nissan Evalia appears more like a cargo van that has been modified to fit commuters rather than a characteristic modern MPV. The sides appear more like slabs and lack any styling flavor. The frail 14 inch wheel again corrupts the overall appearance of the vehicle.
Just like the exteriors, the cabin too looks a bit functional with more concern put on the practicality. But the taupe plastic and bright seat fabric gives it quite better look than its counterpart NV200 sold abroad. But still it is way behind Innova in terms of plushness and finish. The dashboard is quite distinct with bottle holders on either ends. But oddly there is no lid on the glove compartment that means everything will be in the plain sight.
What I like most about the Nissan Evalia is the space it has to offer. The front seat passengers have lot of leg room, the frontal visibility is great and the seats are quite comfortable. The middle row passengers too possess ample room and that also without having an option to slide their seats backwards like other MPVs. The flat floor (which is due to the Evalia’s front wheel drive layout) and this make three people seat in the middle seat with conformability although the seat lacks thigh support. But the biggest problem form the middle row commuters will be the window size, which somehow feels small. Making the matter worse, the windows doesn’t slide open rather it comes out with a butterfly type opening. Some people may not like the sliding doors, but as a matter of fact they doallow good access to the rear row. Moreover instead of lever to fold the middle seat Nissan has used some flimsy tags to fold it down. The rear row does offer enough space to house two adults comfortably.
The most remarkable thing about the vehicle is the boot space, with all seats intact you can easily place two large suitcases inside. You can also fold the third row seats and can flip the middle seats to make some serious luggage carrying space.
But space and comfort on one side and the surprise is how well the Nissan Evalia drives. Churning out about 84 bhp of power and torque (20 kgm) from its smaller 1.5 liter Renault K9 engine may seems satisfactory for a car of that size, but in real world the case is quite different. While driving Evalia doesn’t feels deprived of power, even on the highways and the best part of the engine is its controllability. The engine feels best at around 2000 to 4000 rpm and the smartly chosen ratio helps it brand as a city car with its light steering and smaller turning radius.
Weighing about 1426 kg, it still weighs way less than its rivals. The tires provide much more grip and even with the fair amount of body roll the handling always feels within the safe limits. The ride quality also feels good, though it is a little bouncy in the middle and rear rows over rough and uneven surfaces. That is possibly due to the basic leaf spring suspension. While driving the vehicle does feels quite stable in accordance with its height.
Evalia may not be an eye turner and may seem to basic for personal use but even then it is a practical vehicle to transport a family. It is quite easy to drive in city plus the smaller motor delivers adequate power and it does offer some serious space. To add more Nissan is claiming about ARAI rate fuel consumption of about 20 kmpl which makes it more fuel efficient than its competitors. If Nissan could tag it around Rs. 10 lakh then it probably could earn itself some serious buyers from the MPV space.
Despite of the smaller engine and comparatively lower output figures it doesn’t feel underpowered. The engine’s tractability is its best aspect and can pulls from low torque such as 1000rpm making it a perfect city car.