Nissan unveiled the sketches of their new world sedan based on the v-platform about a year back. The company followed it up by showcasing the car at the 8th China (Guanzhou) International Automotive Exhibition and released its pictures later that year. After bringing you both these important updates to you, here we present to you the road test of the much awaited Nissan Sunny.

The Nissan Sunny range has for ever stood for extremely reliable and affordable family saloons. It has for long been Nissan’s answer to Toyota’s Corolla family. So this particular offering has a lot to live up to.

Our first impressions:
First look and you are reminded of its elder sibling, the Nissan Teana. General profiling of the body and the styling of the front grill. Quickly you realize that even though it is priced as a compact sedan, it doesn’t exactly appear compact. It appears more grown up, more mature and bigger and more expensive. In fact, you do get the impression that it belongs to the segment which is occupied by the likes of the Corolla Altis, Hyundai Verna, Chevy Optra and the Honda City.

As we mentioned earlier, the styling and the big prominent grill of the Sunny reminds you of its lineage and its elder sibling the Nissan Teana. The overall profile is very muscular coupled with the balanced proportions which add to the appeal. We believe that looks are subjective, but, having said that, compared to its competition, we believe that this is by far one of the better looking sedans in its segment. While we were driving around in the city, a couple of drivers in other cars drew alongside at the traffic signals, rolled down their windows and showed us a thumbs up after checking out the car. They were clearly impressed with what they saw.

The Nissan Sunny is based on the versatile v-platform which it shares with the Nissan Micra. The similarities just do not end there. The moment you enter the cabin, you get a sense of deja vu. The interior panels, the steering wheel, the two-din music system, the climate control console, the gear knob, the door panels and the overall chubby theme of the interiors is identical to what you get in the Micra. We would have been surprised if this would not have been the case going by the trend that is observed across the industry with the likes of the Fiat Punto and Linea, the VW Vento and Polo, the Maruti Suzuki Swift and Dzire, and finally the Tata Manza and Vista which sport almost identical interiors.

When we road tested the Micra, we did comment that the steering wheel was a bit big for the proportions for the car but here in the Sunny, it all blends well with the overall proportions and interiors. We drove the top end variant of the Sunny which comes with steering mounted audio controls. We liked the design of the audio control switches. They are in sync with the overall chubby theme in the cabin and are different from the ones seen in other cars.

The quality of the fabrics of the seats and the door panels is very good and so is the fit and finish. The switches and knobs have a very chunky feel to them. We quite like the shiny chrome door handles. This top end variant, the XV is equipped with an automatic climate control. The aircon is quite effective and cools the cabin really quickly. No Bluetooth phone connectivity even on this top end variant.

The driving position is quite nice and the seats, quite comfortable. The seats offer sufficient back and tight support to the driver. The foot well is quite generous as well. The absence of the dead pedal was sorely missed! The gear throws, especially the first and the third were a bit long for our comfort and the slotting could be tad better.

This is the only car in its segment that comes fitted with electrically collapsible rear view mirrors! This is such a boon in the demanding crowded conditions that we often encounter in the city. How we wish that the position of the switches for adjustment of the electronically adjustable mirrors could have been better. We could do with the conventional position on the driver side door panel. Instead, they are located on the front panel to the south east of the steering column. To add to this difficult position is the mirror choosing switch is rather small.

The story gets a lot more interesting as we move to the rear row of seats. This car really goes an extra mile for the comfort of the rear bench. The main highlight of the Sunny, which the company has been marketing very prominently as well has been the rear leg room. This aspect of the car does deserve a special mention. The rear leg room is not only class-leading, but it is only cars from much dearer segments that can boast of a comparable or bigger rear leg room. The rear seats offer good support for long drives; both to the legs and the back. There is a dedicated pair of rotary aircon loovers for the rear passengers with a blast regulator. The rear seat also offers quite a good amount of head room and with the all beige treatment, the cabin has a fairly airy feel to it even from the perspective of a rear passenger.

Engine and power train:
The Nissan Sunny is powered by a 1498cc, 4 cylinder, MPFI engine. The engine generates a maximum power of 99 PS @ 6000 rpm and an impressive torque of 134 Nm @ 4000 rpm. We quite liked the gear box on the Nissan Sunny. The gear ratios are tuned quite nicely to minimise gear shifts in low speed city driving and also provide a good power range while in  the second gear for that urgent surge of power that enables that quick lane change or that quick over take which is a regular phenomenon in city traffic. We remember an instance when we were ambling in city traffic in the third gear. The speed dropped to about 25 kmph at about 1500 rpm. Just to test the power delivery, we did not downshift. We continued to amble in the third gear and when the road opened a bit, hit the throttle and the engine obliged. Not once did the engine complain or growl with a knock. Very impressive that! The Maruti Swift as well as the Dzire have had one of the best gear boxes in the segment but we believe that the gear box on the Sunny is quite close if not better. How we wish the gear shifts were crisper and the throws shorter.

After an impressive show in the city traffic, we let the car loose on the open highway outside city limits. The Sunny was quite spirited and picked up speed quite readily and reached a state of comfortable cruise. We would have liked the car to have a bit more grunt in the top half of the rev range which was slightly disappointing. Having said that, we are petrolheads. We thrive on the sheer power and performance of a car and love cars which have a free revving engine that rev right up to the red line. So to put things into perspective, the Nissan team has done a commendable job tuning the Sunny. The engine and power train does the job and does it real well.

Drive and ride quality:
With virtually half of Mumbai’s roads under construction, we did not have to look hard to find a few rough patches. We drove the car over some real real bad roads and we were impressed with the way the car soaked up all the bumps. The ride was quite comfortable. Even on the highway, the car seemed fairly planted with the steering offering adequate feedback at high speeds. During high speed cornering, body roll was also very minimal and as  driver, you feel sufficiently assured.
All variants of the Sunny are equipped with ABS, EBD as well as Brake Assist. This enhances the braking capabilities of the car and goes a long way in inspiring that confidence which a driver needs especially while speeding.

In addition to the ABS, EBD and BA that we mentioned earlier, all variants of the Sunny are equipped with driver side airbags with the XL and XV variants also equipped with passenger side airbags. This is a very impressive list of safety features.

The price of the Nissan Sunny starts at about 5.8 lakhs for the basic XE variant. The middle XL variant is priced at about 6.9 lakhs and the top end XV variant is priced at 7.75 lakhs. These are average ex-showroom prices. This pricing we believe is better than spot on. It is in fact very very aggressive and brilliant! In addition to  direct competition feeling the heat, we believe that some effects might be felt by cars belonging to the more expensive segments as well.

Overall evaluation and comparison with competition:
We believe that the Nissan Sunny is directly pitted against the Totoya Etios, Tata Manza, Maruti Suzuki Dzire, Ford Fiesta Classic and the Fiat Linea. It has a lot of things going for it including class-leading room, refinement, Japanese reliability and a good engine and power train. After a comprehensive drive in the car, we found the Sunny to be not only a good car to drive but an even better car to be driven in and hence we believe it will attract the premium executive market who currently have to stretch to the segment of the Honda City and Hyundai Verna to get real back seat comfort. We do not see why the car will not be a success and going by the initial response, Nissan will be worried about rolling out the cars soon enough and not allow the pressure of increasing waiting period to mount. Going by the way the company launched the diesel variant of the Micra within six months of the launch of the petrol version, we should expect the diesel variant of the Sunny in the coming months.

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