The Nissan Sunny diesel has helped Nissan double its volumes in India. This is now turning out to be the best alternative to the Volkswagen Vento or Hyundai Verna which are predominantly bought in diesel.
The diesel Caaaaar is stretching from the segment that comprises of the Manza and Etios till the Ford Fiesta and Honda City. This has ensured its constant featuring in discussion people have when they want to move up from their entry level sedans or B+segment hatchbacks.
There are some manufacturers out there claiming their car is a limousine, but the real limousine in this segment is the Sunny. The downside is it feels woefully incomplete.
A limousine has a feel-rich interior, leather trimmed parts and chrome highlights. Is the Sunny one? Its long, has good fit and finish all through its beige interiors, a step in the right direction, but with hard plastics and a functional layout, it falls between premium and economy.
The rear seat journey was helping out in vacating a flat - so much space, so less things!
But then Nissan never told us that they were selling a limousine! The fact is this is a low priced global sedan and if you want to feel plush, go to the D Segment.
The 1.5L engine asks for you to push it, I have to go back to the Fiat Palio Multijet review to see the same sentence. This is a rare breed in diesel engines that likes to be pushed with seamless power delivery and almost nil turbo lag. Overtaking needs no planning, just stay above 2k RPM and push the accelerator to overtake anything in your way!
Although there is vigorous body movement when driven over pot holes, you are not tossed around. Ride quality is not hugely impressive, but you'll thank it for not being choppy or unsettled.
Its shocking when you find out that there's no seat belt warning light or alarm. Sunny's little sibling Micra receives passenger airbag as a standard feature - Why this inconsistency in thinking, Nissan?
Don't try this at home - Start-stop button can be operated while the car is in motion, but you'll have to take your leg off the accelerator pedal for the engine to be killed.
The controls come straight out of the Micra and look out of place on a 10 lakh rupee car. The gear lever needs to be bigger while the puny steering wheel begs for thickness and better grip.
While shifting the gears, someone is taking a drums lesson under the car! Shifting without a Bang! is simply impossible in the Sunny. The need for a 6th gear is felt at 110kph in top gear.
The spongy brakes doesn't like communication. The ABS modulation is faint or wasn't working properly on our test car.
Wind noise intrudes the cabin at three digit speeds but there' no need to raise your voice to communicate.
Engine is audible on the highway but does not get too vocal - at city speeds the engine is hardly audible and the NVH levels are more than acceptable for a diesel sedan.
The clutch transmits vibration when it starts engaging, a good warning for drivers who are guilty of clutch riding.
Horn is powerful - but unlike Micra the buttons don't extend to the side of the steering due to presence of the controls.
The Sunny is powered by a 1.5-liter diesel engine producing 86PS @ 3,750 RPM and 200 Nm @ 2000 rpm.
The engine and the 5-speed transmission come from the Micra.
It is available in two variants, the XL and the XV. Both variants have dual airbags, ABS, EBD and sport features such as Auto AC and rear fan.
Surprisingly the XL variant weighs 1092kg, light for a car with such a big footprint.
At 5.3m, the turning radius is .1 meter off the best in class (Ford Fiesta). The light steering is a delight in city traffic and weighs up well at triple digit speeds.
Despite having the lowest power and torque in its class, the Sunny diesel is never caught napping and is the most engaging to drive.
Nissan claims an ARAI fuel efficiency of 21.64 kmpl and that can be achieved with careful driving.
At the end of the day even if we didn't like the car's brakes or its cleared-out interiors, we knew we can't drive home complaining. This car is sheer value for money if you look at the facts. It has the longest wheelbase in its class, arguably the most comfortable back seat ride, the best in class fuel economy and the nil-turbolag engine is a refreshing facet. It carries biggest boot, and dare I say the best driving diesel engine for a car under 12 lakhs.
When Nissan groups together to sort out a mid-life refresh, they must think of giving the dashboard a few chrome accents, a USB slot for the stereo, Bluetooth pairing facility, chunky steering and gear lever, ABS that works and parking assist on the top-end model.
If you only need a ridiculously spacious and immensely fuel efficient diesel car that does not suck to drive, then the Nissan Sunny diesel is the obvious choice.