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Sunny gets the nip and tuck treatment

S. Muralidhar | Updated on June 12, 2014 Published on June 12, 2014

Premium interiors: The new Sunny's cabinhas received big changes in the form of a newcentre stack, clad in piano-black plastic andnew steering mounted controls. S MURALIDHAR

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The Nissan Sunny’s sales chart shows it has slid down despite offering good value. Have buyers been waiting for this face-lift?



The era of the consumer has been upon us for sometime. Yet, there is no better time than a downturn to really push manufacturers to seek even more ratification and feedback from the buyer.

Car makers have taken to clinics and dealer-level customer feedback sessions with a vengeance to gauge what they have got right and more importantly what they haven’t. It is never too late to make amends after all.

Nissan has gotten into the act and has collated customer feedback about the Sunny – an important model in its line-up. After the first round of response for the car, the Sunny has been put in the shadow by the competition. Yes, there were a few features missing in it, but this Nissan sedan has not had its fair share of success in the market. Company officials took up the cause of collecting buyer feedback to try and plug the holes in its features list and the result is the new face-lifted Sunny.

Redesigned

The Sunny’s USP was always cabin space. And the company tried to highlight it in all their marketing communications – remember the ‘Caaaar’ Ad. Surely, buyers would have only been all praise for the space at the rear seat, which according to Nissan officials even rivals that of the BMW 7 series.

So, nothing has changed there. The dimensions of the face-lifted Sunny are the same inside-out, except the overall length has marginally increased by 15mm due to the changes to the rear fender. The bigger and more obvious changes to the exterior start from the front of the Sunny. The current Sunny is a bit gawky in terms of design, with a set of elements which seem disproportionate in places. The new design addresses these issues with a new set of headlamps, redesigned front fender and bonnet grille. The new headlamps, which seem to have borrowed design inspiration from the Nissan Teana, manage to gel well with the other changes to the front of the Sunny.

The trapezoid bonnet grille design mirrors the airdam’s orientation and adds some width and presence to the front of the redesigned Sunny. There is a burst of chrome elements all around including the grille, the fog lamp garnishes and also a thick chrome strip at the rear just above the number plate slot on the boot lid. Buyers here still love chrome.

The door mirrors have been designed and now include LED turn indicators. In side profile, there is much more symmetry that can be now observed with the tail-lamps and headlamps with striking, matching lines. At the rear, the boot lid and the rear bumper have been changed to further enhance the visual width of the car. There is now an integrated lid spoiler and the tail-lamps feature a new combination. Depending on the variant, there is also the addition of new 12-spoke, Y-design alloy wheels. There is no other structural changes that have been done to the face-lifted Sunny.

Refreshed cabin

Inside the Sunny’s cabin, the changes that have been made are more oriented towards differentiating the car from the others in Nissan’s stable and for adding a few premium features to the list. The big change is the centre stack, which was the same basic design as the ones in the Micra and the (shared-platform) Renault Pulse and Scala. The new stack is clad in piano-black plastic and, again, depending on the variant also features a infotainment system with a 5.1-inch screen. The dashboard layout is now much more rounded and busy, compared to the current model’s rather Spartan design.

The other changes to the dashboard are minor. Based on customer feedback, who sought more premium features, Nissan engineers have now added Bluetooth telephony and steering-mounted controls in the redesigned Sunny. There is also the new Blue and White illumination for the instrument cluster and the new faux leather seats.

Same ride

In addition to an overall improvement in the ergonomics of the Sunny’s cabin, Nissan has also attempted to boost the ambient quality inside by reducing the amount of noise. There has been an increase in the amount of sound deadening materials used to isolate road noise and engine noise. During our test drive the improvements could be felt in the cabin.

But, with no structural changes to the Sunny, the facelift felt exactly like the current model in terms of ride quality. The suspension set up has been carried forward and the car hasn’t gained any extra pounds, so it feels the same on the road too. The Sunny was not exactly a spectacular handler when driven dynamically and it is more of a car that is suitable for unhurried driving and it remains the same after the facelift. Its focus has been and remains space, value and efficiency.

Performance

The two powertrains that the Sunny is currently being offered with have also been carried forward as is, in the same state of tune. But Nissan engineers have played around with the ECU’s (control unit) software to improve mileage by about a kilometre per litre. The unique powertrain was the 1.5-litre petrol engine paired with the CVT gearbox (continuously variable). This is the underappreciated unit that is more efficient and more easy-to-use than the manual transmission version. The diesel option continues to be the famous 1.5-litre, 86PS, K9K engine. This refined engine pulls clean, and continues to be a delight.

Bottomline

The Sunny’s new package is more appealing. The redesign manages to infuse much needed panache to a car which is otherwise already good value and has much of the attributes that buyers in this segment seek.

Even better it now offers a bit more mileage. With both diesel and petrol still creeping up, every bit will help.

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Published on June 12, 2014
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