The Nissan Sunny, when launched in late 2011, checked all the boxes of a mid-size sedan buyer: a spacious rear bench with a rear air vent, a bucketload of features many of which were first-in-class, frugal engine options and most of all, a competitive pricetag. However, sales of the sedan have never reached expected levels, and in fact took a hit last year with total annual sales accounting for only 11,415 units.
A mid-life makeover aims to put the Sunny back on the ring, and hopefully bring it back into the minds of the customer. This is how the refreshed Sunny fares in our review -
If you thought the old Sunny was awkward looking, the news is not very good when you view the facelifted car. The front fascia sees a new design for the headlights, which personally we think, doesn’t look all that good. Viewed head on, the Sunny facelift appears decent, but when viewed from a three-quarter angle, the headlamps seem out of sync with the rest of the car.
Also at the front is a new V-shaped chrome grille which, according to Nissan, has the most amount of chrome in its segment. Towards the sides, the top-end variants get 12-spoke alloy wheels, while the rear sees a new bumper which manages to give the profile of the car some character.
To put it concisely, perceiving the refreshed Sunny as a decent looking car, or as a slightly awkward looking one, depends completely on where you’re viewing it from.
Interior changes thankfully, are well executed compared to the outside. The Sunny no longer shares its steering wheel with the Micra and now gets a 3-spoke unit inspired by the Teana. The steering-mounted buttons feel top class and solid to use.
The center console borrows the piano black finish from the refreshed Micra, but looks premium nevertheless. The plastics and door trims of the higher variants are finished in a nice beige color with premium fabrics, endowing the feel of a luxury car.
We can say a few nice things about the plastics and built quality of the car, however, the most important interior aspect of the Sunny is seen at the rear. The vast acres of legroom continue to impress us, as does the seat itself with its near perfect recline angle. Nissan would have perfected the rear bench had they increased the thigh support by a couple of centimeters.
To summarize, the interiors of the Sunny are a step up from the previous car, and should find favor among chauffeur-driven owners.
The refreshed Sunny comes in a range of 8 variants. Detailed variant-wise information can be found here.
Engine and Gearbox:
Under the hood, Nissan have made no changes to the engine or gearbox of the car. The petrol variant continues to be powered by the four-cylinder 1.5-liter engine which produces 99 PS on the manual and 101 PS on the CVT, and 134 Nm of torque.
The CVT feels decent to drive provided you do so in a relaxed manner. The most important aspect of driving a CVT lies in your driving style: Instead of putting your foot flat down, you give gentle inputs to build up speed.
At higher speeds, the CVT feels a bit strained prompting you to get off the throttle, and we found that maintaining a constant speed of 80-90 km/h was not asking for too much. The gearbox feels more at home at city speeds of 50-60 km/h where noise levels are also subdued.
The diesel Sunny makes 86 PS and 200 Nm of torque, though engineers have given the ECU a remap for better efficiency. It now claims to return 22.71 km/l as against 21.64 km/l.
The 1.5-liter diesel motor continues to impress us with its low-speed drivability and response. The clutch, which we found heavy on the earlier Sunny, feels comparatively lighter on the 2014 model and a bit more city friendly in operation.
To drive, the refreshed Sunny feels the same as the previous model. The diesel engine has adequate performance for city and highway conditions and the Sunny has no problems holding on to triple digit speeds. In-gear acceleration, especially from speeds of 20 km/h in third gear and 40 km/h in fourth gear, feels reasonably quick.
Nissan engineers say they’ve tweaked the NVH package of the car. While the diesel engine is still audible, the noise levels are lower compared to the previous Sunny. Vibrations on the other hand are non-existent.
Ride and Handling:
The Sunny focusses more on ride quality than it does on handling, which is a good thing as owners are expected to be chauffeur driven and wouldn’t want potholes upsetting their reading habits. Even on roads that were half-built with loads of bumps and craters, the Sunny performed exceptionally well, seldom letting its occupants know of the terrain. You can barely hear the suspension working its way to isolate you from these roads.
In terms of handling, the tires of the Sunny seem to give out even before the chassis of the car. That’s a shame as the body of the sedan seems much more capable of handling corners than the tires would allow them to. The steering is on the lighter side and provides reasonable feedback.
Brakes and Safety:
On the safety front, all variants of the Sunny come with a driver airbag, ABS and EBD as standard. A front passenger airbag is offered on the top-end XV variants of the diesel, while the range-topping XV Premium Pack 2 comes with side airbags as well.
The Sunny gets disc brakes at the front and drum brakes at the rear. Braking power can only be described as adequate, not because the brakes aren’t good, but because the 185 section JK tires aren’t very grippy. As we mentioned in the ride and handling section, the tires of the car give out even when the road condition is mildly wet. Better tires would do the car a world of good.
The petrol Sunny CVT claims 17.97 km/l, and returned 10 km/l in our tests. The diesel, which has its efficiency improved to 22.71 km/l, managed 13.5 km/l in our drive.
The refreshed Nissan Sunny will go on sale early next month. Prices are expected to mirror the current model, if not increase by INR 25,000-30,000 spec-for-spec.
The Nissan Sunny has always been a great rear seat car, and the refreshed model has built on this front by offering slightly more premium interiors and new features. The diesel, which is our pick, has proven itself to be a reliable and efficient unit on the previous Sunny. On the new model, it claims to deliver more for the buck, which should get appreciation from customers.
The Sunny is a good alternative to something like the Toyota Etios or Tata Manza, or to the many compact sedans out there. Nissan say they are improving their after-sales quality, and that nearly 200 touchpoints will be present all over the country by the end of this fiscal.
As an overall package, we give the Sunny a thumbs up, despite its disproportionate exterior design. If priced and marketed well, the refreshed Sunny has the mettle to impress more customers than its predecessor.