People have noticed price to size ratio and massive rear space well in the Sunny. In a segment where its competitors seem to offer a knocked down product, the Sunny has stood its ground. Now, with the diesel version, Nissan has plugged a crucial gap. Under that curvy bonnet is a diesel motor that's similar to the Micra diesel, only this produces 84bhp and 20.4kgm of torque, making it a good 22bhp and 4kgm more than the hatchback.
The 1.5-litre K9K common-rail diesel makes this extra power because it is now intercooled. And, though the turbo is different from the one in the Micra, Nissan has stuck with a fixed geometry turbocharger, rather than going for a variable geometry one.
The added power combined with the Sunny’s flyweight 1097kg kerb weight means it is a good performer, one that picks up cleanly and strongly from low engine speeds. There’s none of that turbo-lag that you usually get with turbo-diesel motors and power delivery is linear. Linear right upto 3500rpm that is, after which power starts tailing off. The engine will rev right upto 5000rpm, but there’s no point spinning it all the way there because it does its best work below 3000rpm. Seriously, its tractable nature means you can even overtake without downshifting and that is quite something. We timed its 0-100kph at 13.7 sec, which is quicker than both the Etios and the Manza diesel. The in-gear times are also quicker than the Etios and the Manza and this points to how responsive this engine really is.
What’s even more impressive is that once past the initial shudder when you start the engine, it’s smooth and refined. It’s only when you extend it to near its redline that it starts to sound strained.The diesel also gets some other not-so-obvious changes. To accommodate for the heavier engine, the front suspension has been stiffened and this has improved the way the Sunny behaves. Sure, at low speeds, it is a bit lumpy, but still far from the skittish nature of its petrol sibling, and the suspension handles bumps like a proper European saloon. Sharp bumps thump through, but everything else is dealt with with absolute ease. The stiffer setup also means the diesel is a lot more confident at speed.
The electric steering has also been recalibrated and it is now weightier and feels a lot less vague when you’re going fast. The Sunny feels more planted going into corners too. Sure there’s some wiggling from the soft rear suspension but it’s not bad enough to make you feel uncomfortable.
The rest is the same. The interiors are identical to the petrol, save for the rev-counter and the rear seats have huge space but are short on thigh
support. The dull greys on the dashboard, the well finished interiors — it’s all there. Nissan is offering the diesel only in the top-end XV and mid-level XL versions. This XV is well equipped — it’s got climate control, alloy wheels, keyless entry and go, power windows, electrically adjustable mirrors, steering-mounted audio controls and a decent sound system. But at R 8.78 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) it costs a full R 1.1 lakh more than the comparable petrol variant. Nissan clearly wants to cash in on the shift towards diesel cars.
Cost-conscious buyers are better off with the XL model, which at R7.98 lakh, comes with most of the equipment you need and is bereft of the stuff that don’t matter, like the keyless-go system. What the Sunny diesel has is oodles of feel-good factor. It combines all the goodness of the petrol Sunny with the lower running costs of the diesel engine. Apart from slightly expensive price, Nissan’s got almost everything spot on.