What happens when a big company like Nissan India Private Limited sends out invites to journalists currently ruling the roost in the Indian automotive scene, to test drive their new automobile? The invite was for no small thing and it was for the first drive of the Nissan Sunny in India, the company’s new sedan based on the V platform. The invite does mean that Nissan is pretty much serious about the Indian market as it gears up to fight with the C segment for some pie of the sales cake. A 180 kms approximate trip confirmed the Sunny’s credentials and needless to say, here we are with the entire driving impressions as also the specifications of the Sunny. Of course once it is launched, we would have a detailed comparison of this car with its competitors namely the Hyundai Verna, new Ford Fiesta, Honda City, Fiat Linea and the VW Vento. Of course, the lower variant of the Sunny would jostle for space with the likes of Toyota Etios, Mahindra Verito and also the Tata Manza.
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The Sunny comes into India in the same form as it is in USA. The good or the best thing is that unlike the policy adopted by many other manufacturers wherein which they just slap on a boot to their existing hatchbacks, Nissan have gone in for a complete new shape for the car. It is very hard to tell that this sedan uses the same V platform as the hatchback or is even derived from it. Mini Teana is the first expression which comes to mind after seeing this car. Viewed heads-on, the tear drop head lamps look great. The grille has a broad smiley attached to it. The front fogs have been provided on the top end XV model only. Like other typical Japanese manufacturers (Toyota), Nissan has adopted the safe policy and this styling should go down well with the intended clientele aged between 30-45. Nissan have persisted with body colored bumpers on even the base variant. The glass has a green tint to it. The base XE and the mid level XL variants get 185/70 R14 wheels while the top end XV model gets 185/65 R15 configuration. The first two come with steel wheels with wheel covers available on the XL version while XE comes with alloys. We initially had apprehensions about the sloping roofline cutting into the rear passenger head room, however those doubts were immediately dispelled once we were chauffer driven in this car. One strange thing that we noticed is that the rear wheel fender as also the wheel look like they would foul with each other. We did bring this to the notice of Nissan officials and they assured us that the wheels wouldn’t cut across. The images below would show this in detail. The rear of the car in the meanwhile is plain and except for the chrome badgings, there is no other design flourish here. The tail lamp is hidden from view and signals that the car doesn’t boast of any performance intentions.
Before – After
The badging on the cars looks like those of the Jaguar cars with the different trims called as XE, XL and XV. Overall a nicely balanced car which wouldn’t offend anyone.
Just like in the Micra, Nissan have put in a keyless entry system on the XV model. This one requires that probable owners just put in the key in their pocket and touch the request sensor on the doors. Viola! The door is now open. Same story is repeated with the boot. The overall build quality is something which we found to our liking. The panel gaps were all even and the glove compartment and other switches work very well. The switchgear infact feels very chunky to operate. Just like in the Micra, Nissan have persisted with the use of light grey plastics inside the cabin. The meter dials look like they do a good imitation of the ones in the Toyota Corolla Altis, and that isn’t a bad thing either. There is a multi-information display which displays the instantaneous fuel efficiency amongst the other things. Special mention must be made of the seats, both front and rear. They have excellent bolstering and even after the 86 kms one way drive, we never felt any sort of discomfort. Both the driver and front passenger get manual adjust for the seats. The top end version has got the Push Button Ignition, like in the Micra XV. The steering wheel gets audio controls on it only for the XL and XV variants. Electrically adjustable outside rear view mirrors are available on the top two variants whereas manual adjustment is present in the lower variant. The placement of the electrical adjustment is a bit quirky and is to the bottom right hand side of the steering wheel. Once on the move, its very hard to adjust the mirrors without taking eyes off the road. We also found that once the car has been shut off, the mirrors don’t close on their own. The automatic climate control system as also the AC in the lower variants have been borrowed from the Micra. Unfortunately, Nissan haven’t upgraded the compressor and hence on a sufficiently humid day with temperatures hovering around 32 degree Celsius, we often had to resort to the manual mode to keep the blower speeds up. Towards the rear, Nissan have built in an indigenous system for keeping the passengers cool. They have put in a mock rear AC controller thing which controls only the fan speed. This system in turn doesn’t require any ducts and sucks in air from the front vents, hence is a cost effective thing. It has got a two speed variable ratio. Turning up the blower to its highest position reveals the noise that comes as a package with it. That saying, we had experienced more of this noise in the new Hyundai Verna. The rear seat could do with a bit more underthigh support, however, not all passengers would be 6ft 4 inches, like our tester. There are not many storage spaces and this is something wherein Nissan could have understood the Indian mentality of carrying their home with them wherever they go. There is a glovebox which can take in a manual and some more small items while there is a hollow slot just above it which can hold some papers. That saying, the boot space is very good, though not on the same lines as the Etios. It stands at 490 liters and the rear seats don’t have any split seat arrangement to them.
The leg space in both the front and rear seats is enormous and dare we say that this one is going to be a favorite for the chauffer driven customer in this segment. The rear passenger, in this case our 6 foot plus tester had his hairstyle fouled by the sloping roof line. However this happened only when he had to sit upright. The front seats also have an enormous travel to them. Three can sit in reasonable comfort at the rear, ignoring the small middle hump. The middle passenger also gets a dedicated seat belt. The front seats belts aren’t height adjustable. The audio system just about makes the cut with its 4 speaker configuration. It does have an AUX input but surprisingly no USB connection.
Handling and ride quality
The wheelbase of this car stands at 2600 mm. Noticeably, this isn’t a Swift and Dzire job and there is plenty of space inside the cabin. The V platform stands for versatility and this shows in the way Nissan could alter the vehicle’s dimensions without seriously affecting its maneuverability. The Sunny offers a good all around view, even at the rear. The light traffic that we encountered on the drive showed hints of the visibility factor. However, the stability factor is very good and even though the Sunny is just 100 kgs more than the Micra, it was rock solid for speeds upto 140 kmph. The steering wheel is a light 3 spoke unit taken up from the Micra and even though its electrically assisted, it had a nice feel to it once the speeds rose. Part of the maneuverability of the Nissan Sunny in India stems from this steering wheel. Since the East Coast Road is pretty much smooth and there were few ripples to take care of, we couldn’t check out the ride quality perfectly. However, considering the long suspension travel and also the way the car has been setup to be on the softer side, we expect it to be pliant enough. When fully loaded, the Sunny, like other Japanese cars tends to squat on its suspension. As for the handling, this car has got a hint of body roll, however it does settle well after the initial bend of the road has been completed. It just handles flat and to put it into polite words, it is a soft handler. We did notice the absence of any type of foam or insulating materials under the hood and this actually became a cause of concern since this car can get noisy at the top of the rev range. Even the NVH at idle, outside the car, was pretty much high for a petrol car. Just before the launch, Nissan can put in some sound insulation material under the hood and it should work wonders for the car as an overall package.
Nissan Sunny Photo Gallery
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
Surprisingly, Nissan officials did say that they have studied the Indian market very well. If they actually did, then the company officials would have definitely brought in a diesel engine first. As of now, there is no diesel engine coming in with the Sunny. But knowing Nissan well enough, they would definitely bring in the diesel just months after the launch of the Sunny petrol. The current 1.5 liter petrol engine is a new unit and doesn’t share its architecture with the 1.2 liter 3 cylinder engine of the Micra. This all new 4 cylinder engine belongs to the HR15DE series and has got 16 valves to it. 97 Bhp of power at 6600 rpm and 134 Nm of torque at 4000 rpm is what this engine promises. The stick shift provided is a 5 speed unit. The gearbox is a notchy unit and we would have preferred the slick shifts of the Honda City. The gearing has been tuned to be on the lower side and hence without even a hint of the accelerator, the Nissan Sunny smartly climbs up inclines and the likes. Even in the light traffic that we encountered, the Sunny could easily potter around in 3rd gear. However give it the beans and the engine registers a leisure trip across the rev band. Even with the accelerator pinned to the mat, the Sunny seemed to crawl. Some ECU tuning would definitely help the company in sharpening the throttle response for this one. The Sunny’s engine doesn’t like being hustled around and is best kept at moderate speeds. A safe estimate to the 0-100 kmph dash is 14 seconds with top speeds in the region of 160 kmph. ARAI fuel efficiency is pegged at 16.95 kmpl. This figure should make the average Indian very much happy. The MID regularly threw figures of 12 kmpl and 30 kmpl. The former was achieved when we were gunning the car and the latter when things were taken pretty sedately. Needless to say, all these figures were achieved with the AC on.
Nissan is one of the manufacturers who tend for safety more than the other parameters. They have kitted even the base variant with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. The XE variant gets a driver airbag whereas twin airbags are available on both the XL and XV variants. The doors also autolock for both the latter variants. A door ajar warning as also an engine immobilizer are available as part of the standard equipment on all the variants. Brakes of the Sunny were pretty much spot on and we had a particular section wherein we could put the EBD function of the car to test. Needless to say, it performed flawlessly.
The 2011 Nissan Sunny in India does tick all the right boxes when it comes to the needs of the average buyer. Infact, it would exceed expectations. After all, who wouldn’t like some bun maska free with a cutting chai? If you are looking for a chauffer driven car in the C segment, then it cannot get better than this. The plastic seem just about of a decent quality and though there is no cost cutting pieces, it still could have been better. The NVH is surprisingly high for a car in this segment and that too coming from a petrol engine is even more non-understandable. Nissan in conjunction with Hover Automotive Limited are planning to expand the dealership network to 72 from the current 50 that they have. It has been a sizeable number of dealerships since when the Micra was launched, the number of dealerships was approximately 22. The company plans to sell more units than the Micra with the Sunny. Nissan haven’t yet revealed the date for launching this car, however, we believe that they would be doing it by the 20th of September 2011. The Nissan Sunny price in India was said to be between that of the Toyota Etios and the Hyundai Verna. We peg it at an estimated Rs 5.99 lakhs for the XE variant. What’s your take on it? Do fill those in the comments section below.
Nissan Sunny Exterior
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Nissan Sunny Interior
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Nissan Sunny Comfort & Convenience
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Nissan Sunny Safety
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