Nissan has tasted success in the Indian market by launching the Sunny at an unbeatable price. Together, the Sunny and the Micra are the two pillars of Nissan India. Sure, there is the X-Trail, 350Z and Teana but they hardly ever cross double digit sales in a month.
Clearly, the Japanese automaker has massive plans for India and has invested huge moolah in the Chennai facility. In order to become one of the top three automakers in India, one cannot base the entire strategy on just two mass market products.
To further bolster Nissan’s presence in India, the Japanese company is all set to launch another mass market product, the Nissan Evalia. We went to Bengaluru to find out whether the Evalia can cut the mustard.
The Evalia should not come as a surprise because it was showcased at the 2012 New Delhi Auto Expo. It is essentially a passenger application of the world renowned NV200 commercial van. The NV200 is not just any van; it is in fact the International Van of the Year for 2010. The NV200 is such an awesome blend of practicality and comfort that it is replacing the iconic taxis of New York, Barcelona and London.
The Evalia is an off-shoot of the NV200 van. However, Nissan does not refer to the Evalia as a van or even as a MPV. Nissan has invented a whole new category called as the 'Urban Utility Class Vehicle' – a product developed to meet a versatile needs of an urban male.
One does get a whiff of marketing malarkey from these jargons aimed to shoo away the stigma that is typically associated with a van.
Walk up to the Evalia and two things catch your eye – first is the sheer boxyness of the design and the massive footprint. Standing on the B platform, the Evalia measures 4400 x 1695 x 1880 mm. It is shorter and narrower than the Toyota Innova, but feels at par with it. The Evalia is taller than the Innova which translates into better headroom for the passengers. It also has a better ground clearance than the Toyota Innova measuring around 180mm which is very good for Indian roads.
If you look at the Evalia dead straight, you notice that Nissan has designed it to reduce aerodynamic drag as much as possible. The bonnet slopes down very sharply. The single barrel headlamps are sweptback to give a very stylish appeal. There is a dash of chrome to the V-Shaped grill adds to the premiumness of Evalia.
The front bumper is very big and it overpowers the appeal of the Evalia’s stance. Circular foglamps on either side are available in the top-end variant. Below the nose, one can see protective cladding for the engine bay. The windshield is upright giving you a clear picture of what is ahead on the road. You asked for a no nonsense front fascia? Yes sir!
Coming to the side profile and oh dear! This is where it horribly goes wrong; not just aesthetically but even functionally.
Being derived from a commercial van, the side profile feels like it was designed with a pencil and a ruler. There are no curves, no bends, no artistry at all.
One will notice that the driver window has a deep kink which gives him very good visibility. But then comes the second and third row windows which barely open. The second row windows is a butterfly flap type and they barely open. The third row windows don’t open at all. This is a big problem because not only do the rear passenger have no supply of fresh air but they can’t even stick their head out in case of motion sickness.
Got a dog? Sorry puppy, no wind-in-hair motoring for you.
Another disappointment are the 14 inch alloy wheels which make the Evalia look like a fat man in ballet shoes. The alloys are only available in the top-end model and are wrapped with skinny 165/R14 tyres. We will talk about their performance in the driving review. As the Evalia comes with a smart key, you see a small button on the door handle for a keyless entry.
The ORVMs are wide enough to give you a clear picture of what is happening in the village that you left behind 100 km away. They are electrically adjustable, but not electrically foldable and lack turn indicators on them.
The side profile does have a very important feature – Sliding Doors. Not only can you park your Evalia in tight spots and not bother about the egress, but they are safe for the pedestrians and cyclists because they don’t swing out. The fuel cap is located near the driver’s seat because of the location of the fuel tank. Side step is not available as standard, so you will have to fit it as an accessory and we advise you to do so for easy ingress.
Coming to the rear profile, you will notice that the shape is very similar to a Volvo bus.
Nissan has added some flair to the rear profile with the vertical Mahindra-Scorpio-like tail lamps and two chrome slats with reflectors on either side of the name plate.
Overall the rear profile is very lackluster. The monstrous tail gate opens upwards and lifts very high above the ground so you can’t open it completely in a tight spot. The spare wheel is mounted below the third row seats to make space for the rear passenger and luggage. A rear view camera makes sure that you can park this giant very comfortably.
The Evalia then reaches closer to a van than a MPV. It is a very no-nonsense design that will not turn any eyeballs in awe. In fact, too often it will be looked upon as a commercial application.
It is going to be a big problem for Nissan to convince the customers to settle for the Evalia’s looks especially when the competition such as Ertiga, Innova and Xylo have so much to offer in the design department. It’s van-like extremely conservative design will be an Achilles heel.
Nissan India would have to really scratch their heads to divert the customer’s attention away from the design and on to the better stuff.