Nissan Tiida: An Economy Hatchback Surpassing Expectations
For a 1.6-liter hatchback positioned lower than even its elder sister Sunny, the Nissan Tiida has more space, power and even style than you would have the right to expect. The refreshed design features long flowing lines coupled with a squat and wide stance. This makes the Tiida more attractive than its previous boxy incarnation and also most of its current competitors in the crowded city hatch segment.
The sensible interior layout seats four full-grown humans in comfort and five in a pinch. If you’re going to cram so many people into the little runabout, however, don’t expect to be the first off the blocks at traffic lights. The Tiida takes a while to get going, engine whining even at mid-range revs. Once on the move, though, the hatch digs deep, like The Little Engine That Could, and comes up with some nifty power moves that infuse a fair bit of fun into driving it.
This is helped along by an inconspicuous little button on the thumb side of the gear shift that switches the continuous variable transmission into Sport mode. This keeps the revs in the high ranges as much as possible, giving you more acceleration capability at any speed.
The problem is: you would become aware of the Sport mode only if your thumb accidently hits the little button; or if you’re the curious kind whose philosophy is “see button, try button”; or if you’ve taken the trouble to read the 250-page user manual. Why Nissan would choose not to draw attention to the Sport mode by actually labeling it is a mystery.
Even outside Sport mode, the CVT – which, by its very nature, provides an infinite number of gear ratios – ensures that there is a reasonable amount of acceleration available while in motion. And if you’ve filled the vehicle with as many people it can seat, climbing a gradient of any kind is made easier by an additional low gear thoughtfully provided by the manufacturer. That is quintessentially Nissan.
Attention to detail
Also very Nissan is the build quality that brings a uniform look and feel to joins, panels and doors as well as most of the interior materials including the seat covers. The fabric seats feel surprisingly plush with beautiful seam stitching. The Tiida won’t make you feel as sensuous as a Range Rover, obviously; but it will surprise you with its attention to detail.
Forgive us if we are making the little Tiida sound grander than we have the right to do so. But, snootily expecting a down-market little vehicle that should be driven only by those who can’t afford a proper car, we were left wide-eyed by how thoughtfully and well Nissan has built the Tiida.
The name Tiida, we are told, means The Sun in the Okinawan language of southern Japan, signifying equality and richness. It also means grasshopper in Hindi if you pronounce it ‘tidda’, but we prefer The Sun interpretation. Even so, the air-conditioning system in the hatchback creates a cool atmosphere within seconds even on a hot day.
Even with the air-conditioning going full blast, fuel efficiency is up there with the best.
Before we start sounding as if the hatch is the best thing that ever happened to city driving, we should get on record some of the bits that weren’t so impressive. Once you get over the mismatch between the weight and power, you will notice that the steering isn’t as taut as it should be. There is a noticeable jitter at low revs while slowing to a stop. A slight tendency to oversteer at slow speeds need some getting used to.
Clunky sound system
The Tiida is technically a “small” car, so storage options aren’t too robust. Don’t be surprised if you are unable to fit two vento coffee cups in the tiny mid-console holders. You may need to down-size your coffee to suit the car.
Our biggest grouse, however, is with the Kenwood sound system that our model came equipped with; it has one of the clunkiest bits of software we’ve ever encountered.
In an age when most people use a single device for phone calls, messaging, email, music and movies, it is surprising that carmakers still equip their vehicles with systems that make pairing a device such a mind-numbingly difficult job. There was a USB option, an auxiliary cable option and the option to shove in a CD or just listen to the radio. The Bluetooth connectivity, which should be the most robust option in this day and age, was, however, ok at best. The sound system is pretty good for an economy car!
The display was not bright enough to be seen on a sunny day even at the highest setting. It also kept changing colors and distracting enough to perhaps even be dangerous at others. Maybe it is time car music system software was designed by cell-phone OS creators. Why should good UX be the preserve only of digital products?
|Sleek looks; good build||Complicated sound system|
|Multiple power options||Loose steering|
|Good fuel efficiency||Limited storage|
|Space and leg room|
The I4 FWD hatch shootout
|Nissan Tiida||Ford Focus||Hyundai i30||Mazda 2||Toyota Yaris|
|Engine||1.6L I4 FWD||1.5L Turbo I4 FWD||1.8L I4 FWD||1.5L I4 FWD||1.5L I4 FWD|
|Fuel Efficiency (L/100km)||6.2||5.5||7.5||6.8||7.3|
|0-100 kph (sec.)||11.0||8.9||11.0||10.5||11.5|
|Top Speed (kph)||180||212||200||185||175|
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