This is the new Nissan Sunny and it is slated to hit Indian showrooms by the first week of October. Expect the Sunny to be priced somewhere between the Toyota Etios and the new Hyundai Verna. What can you expect from it? We drove it on the East Coast Road on the outskirts of Chennai to find out.
It is based on Nissan’s V platform, the same one that underpins the Micra. However, the Sunny is no Micra with a boot slapped on and as you can see, it gets completely new styling The Sunny’s long, flowing lines, interesting headlights and elaborate rear section means it resembles the far more expensive Teana from some angles, and this is a good thing.
On the inside, the Sunny’s dashboard resembles the Micra, with the differences lying in the upper part of the centre console, the audio system (on this XV variant) and the dials. However, the area around the glovebox, the climate control system, the door handles and the door pads are from the hatch. The front seats are comfortable and the beige cabin (base variants get all-black interiors) goes a long way in making this cabin a pleasing and un-intimidating place to be. Quality is decent and fit-and –finish is a lot better than the Etios. What is truly fantastic about the Sunny is the sheer space inside. With a wheelbase that’s 150mm more than the Micra, there’s tremendous legroom at the rear, even with the front seats fully extended rearward. That said, thigh support is compromised as the seat base is low, so long journeys will have you stretching your legs out trying to find as much support as you can. Rear passengers get a dedicated fan that helps circulate cool air blowing out of the front air-con vents faster.
At its launch, the Sunny will feature a 1.5-litre petrol engine that makes 97bhp and 13.6kgm of torque. It’s no performance motor, but it responds well to part throttle inputs and pulls well from low speeds, which is useful in traffic. Press on though and you’ll find performance is good till about 5000rpm after which the engine gets thrashy. It’s best to upshift early and keep the engine spinning where it’s happiest. The five-speed manual is a bit notchy though and doesn’t like being hurried.
As for the ride, the Sunny comes with an independent MacPherson strut setup up front and a non-independent torsion beam at the rear. It did feel a bit stiff-kneed on the few blemishes we encountered on the East Cost Road, but this improves as you go faster. It isn’t a particularly sporty car to drive, but it does feel planted at speeds and settles down after that initial bit of roll through corners.
It will be launched in three variants – the XE, XL and XV. The base XE comes with steel wheels, power steering, air-conditioning, ABS with EBD and a driver airbag. The XL adds a rear defroster, wheel caps, climate control, beige interiors, steering mounted audio controls, electric adjust mirrors, rear blower vents, keyless entry, CD player with aux-in and airbags for driver and passenger. The top-end XV gets 15-inch alloys, electric folding mirrors and keyless entry and ignition.
The Sunny is handicapped by having only a petrol option, especially as its key rivals have diesel engines. There is a Sunny diesel on the cards and it will, unsurprisingly, feature the 1.5-litre dCi motor from the Micra. Nissan is not saying when though. Otherwise, the Sunny comes across as a sensible car, one that certainly has a lot of potential. We hope the price is right.