Car Tested: 2011 Nissan Sunny XV dCi
Price OTR Chennai: Rs. 9.16 Lakhs (XL), Rs. 10.07 Lakhs (XV)
It has been just 3 months since the Nissan Sunny was put into our market, but it seems to have established a clear niche for itself. With sales consistently hovering at above a 1000 units each month with just the petrol variants, Nissan has decided its time to expand the Sunny’s market share further by launching the diesel variant recently. With its ‘Pure Drive’ badge that looks and sounds surprisingly similar to Hyundai’s ‘Blue Drive’ moniker, the Sunny dCi is all set to perfectly take advantage of the diesel craze that is sweeping India right now.
So, how is the Suuny diesel to drive? Does it live up to the high standards that customers in this segment expect of late? Is it competitive enough to instill fear in the Hyundai Verna and Volkswagen Vento that are currently ruling the segment? Read on, to find out. You would be knowing that we at MotorBeam have already posted a comprehensive review of the Sunny petrol a few months back. You can read all about it and much more in this link. This short drive covers only the aspects that are related to the diesel engine and its performance.
Except for the different engine under the hood, the Sunny diesel is exactly similar to the petrol variant and so, carries forward all its petrol sibling’s traits. The clean looks that neither stuns nor offends, the individualistic design approach that looks nothing like the Micra from which it is based on, the extremely spacious and adequately equipped interiors with above average fit and finish, notchy gearshifts that audibly slots into place every time you change gears and the spongy brake pedal with a lot of play are all still there unchanged in the Sunny diesel too.
On The Move:
As they always say, the first impression is the best and Nissan has done well to impress you at the very first stint. The iKey and Push Button feature that has endeared the Micra and Sunny petrol owners before are there on the diesel too. Press the small black button on the door handle, step in, get settled in the plush and comfy front seats, step on the clutch and press the Start/Stop button. The engine cranks on and you immediately know that its a diesel. It is pretty noisy and vibrates when cranking up, but immediately settles into a nice thrum afterwards.
As already described in the Sunny petrol review, NVH levels are strictly average on the Sunny diesel too. What is shocking is the absence of any sort of sound-deadening material in the hood. We can understand for the petrol, but the diesel needs it for sure competing in the 10 Lakh rupee sedan segment. Apart from that glitch, the build quality impresses and the Nissan Sunny is devoid of squeaks and rattles, even after taking it through some of the worst roads on offer in Chennai city. The paint quality with its top-notch glossy finish needs a special mention here.
Ride, Handling And Braking:
What has changed significantly compared to the petrol variant, and for the better, are the driving dynamics. The presence of the heavier diesel engine under the hood has aided in better distribution of weight that the Sunny now feels more stable and planted on the road than the petrol variant. The ride, as it was before, is a bit stiff. Though the bumps, potholes and other undulations on the road filter into the cabin unlike in, say a Volkwagen Vento, the ride is nowhere uncomfortable and remains comfy enough.
The handling is well sorted out too and the car willingly turns into corners at all speeds. What is commendable is that the steering feels super-light at slow speeds but starts weighing up nicely once speeds build up. Thus, the Sunny gives you the best of both worlds – an effortless drive inside the city and a confidence-inspiring drive in highways. Having said that, the Verna is even more pleasurable to drive in the city and the Fiesta and Vento would beat the Sunny hollow as far as overall road handling is concerned.
One thing in the Sunny that takes time getting used to is the brakes. The brake pedal has a fair amount of play and feels spongy the first time you press it. Though you get used to it over time, it is quite hard to judge the stopping distance at first, as it is devoid of any feel for a few seconds before the brakes engage. Once you understand them though, the Sunny feels composed and stable, even under hard braking. Hats off to Nissan for providing Antilock Braking System, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist and Driver Airbag as standard across all variants.
The Sunny diesel is powered by the 4-cylinder 1.5-liter K9K engine that was jointly developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance. This motor churns out a maximum power output of 86PS at 3750 rpm and a maximum torque of 200 Nm at 2000 rpm. As the figures would suggest, the torque is available right from low end of the powerband and the K9K engine revs cleanly all through the powerband. The generous low-end torque means that the Sunny diesel is effortless to drive in bumper-to-bumper city traffic with the car pulling away cleanly in the second and third gears.
In our very short drive, we were not able to do a 0-100 acceleration tests but we can tell you that the car accelerates celanly and smoothly until 120 kph after which the engine feels strained. Though the refinement is not great even at low rpms, the motor gets very loud once it goes past 3000 rpm. The power delivery is smooth and linear and the turbo-kick that you experience in cars like the Verna is not there in the Sunny. Having said that, all credits to Nissan for making the Sunny diesel a surprisingly good performer, both in city and highway driving conditions.
The MID in our test car showed an overall average fuel efficiency of 14.5 km/l for the short test drive that we had. Remember, we weren’t exactly soft on the pedals and the engine was revved all the way upto 4500 rpm redline during our test. Considering all these, its a commendable figure and the Sunny diesel comes with an impressive figure of 21.64 km/l in the ARAI tests.
For all those who remember, we had mentioned in the Sunny petrol review that the only major kink in the Sunny’s armour was the lack of a diesel option, given the fact that almost every other competitor comes with one under their hood. That has been addressed now and the Sunny diesel is such a sprightly performer that can comfortably tackle both in-city and out-of-city drives. That it is the most spacious car in its segment by quite a commendable margin and it is priced well compared to the competition are just added bonus. All in all, the Sunny diesel has all the potential to make it big in it’s segment.
Whats Not So Cool:
* Notchy Gearshifts
* Sparse Service Network
Nissan Sunny Diesel Specifications:
* Engine: 1461 cc, 4 Cylinder, 8V, K9K, SOHC
* Power: 86 PS @ 3750 RPM
* Torque: 200 Nm @ 2000 RPM
* Transmission: 5-speed manual
* Fuel Consumption: 21.64 kmpl (ARAI Figures)
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: Mcpherson Struts (Front), Torsion Beam (Rear)
* Tires: 185/65/15 (XV)
* Brakes: Discs (Front), Drums (Rear), ABS, EBD & BA
Nissan Sunny Diesel Dimensions:
* Overall Length x Width x Height: 4425 mm X 1695 mm X 1505 mm
* Wheelbase: 2600 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1480/1485 mm
* Ground clearance: NA
* Turning Radius: NA
* Boot Volume: 490 liters
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 41 liters
* Kerb Weight: 1097 kg (XV)
Text & Photography: Aravind Ramesh