The new Nissan Tiida blends technology and a huge interior, but the CVT noise ruins everything...
Music has the ability to touch your soul, and for me it doesn’t get better than listening to Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke or StevieWonder. So it’s really saying something that I’d rather blast up Miley Cyrus – on repeat – with backing vocals from fellow brat Justin Bieber than suffer the agony that the drone from the all-new Tiida’s continuously variable transmission produces.
This otherwise decent little car has been ruined by the gearbox. I’m especially surprised and disappointed because the CVT in the Altima is pretty good. Here it’s plain lousy – and that’s being kind. A recent drive in the attractive second-generation Tiida never once saw the needle drop lower than 6,000rpm.
I wouldn’t have minded had the gearbox been connected to something a little (a lot) bigger than the new 1.8-litre four-pot screaming in pain inches ahead of me. A highrevving V8 would have been nice. This engine and transmission behave like strangers, and the resulting experience behind the wheel is less than impressive.
But this is one of the hottest sellers in the UAE, and I highly doubt that buyers of this C hatchback segment-winner will worry about the gearbox or wonder why it sounds like it’s about to explode. Aside from this minor (major) issue, the rest of the car is respectable.
It looks way better now. Those tall and gangly looks of the previous model have been replaced by a body that sits much lower to the ground, is wider, far curvier and features distinctively racy contours. It’s more
aggressive than before and clearly, a lot of time was spent on the drawing board getting it right; every line seems to have been considered carefully.
The Nissan family face is very apparent; there’s a new grille up top and more angular headlights, which keep in line with the rest of the clan, while the roofline has been lowered a tad, which helps give the Tiida a sporty look. Yes; I did just use the words ‘Tiida’ and ‘sporty’ in the same sentence...
The C-pillar kink is a nice touch, as are the 17in wheels. The profile is impressive and manages to be both powerful and sleek, and the rear end is a step up too; the taillights get that angular treatment and overall, it’s worthy of a second glance. This wasn’t the case before.
Hop in and your immediate thought is that you’re sitting in a medium-sized saloon; the interior is roomy and well crafted. There’s a robust centre tunnel in there— not just a gear lever sticking out of the floor— with an armrest and a brandnew, well-laid-out dash.
No complaints about outward visibility from any angle or with the leather seats, which offer good support. There are decent amounts of leg- and headroom both at the front and back, meaning up to five adults can be seated comfortably.
There’s plenty of kit offered in the top-spec SL including Bluetooth Hands-Free Phone System and Streaming Audio with iPod or portable MP3 player through USB port, a 5.8in colour touch display, satnav, rear-view camera and auto AC with rear vents. Our test car also got dual, side and curtain airbags (six in total), power sun roof with tilt and slide, electric folding mirrors, multifunction steering and Intelligent key with a push engine start button, but you have to shell out Dh82,400 for it all. That’s insane.
The base model with a 1.6-litre is far more sensibly priced at Dh59,400. Sure, there are hard plastics here and there and perhaps more could have been done to hide them away, but as it stands, there’s nothing much to be annoyed about regarding the interior and exterior. However, your opinion soon changes when you take it for a drive.
The numbers sound encouraging enough; 135bhp albeit at an eardestroying 6,000rpm and 174Nm of torque at 3,600rpm. Mash the throttle and the Tiida pulls off the line with purposeful intent – but the rpms remain dangerously close to the redline for what sounds like an eternity, and when you look at the speedometer thinking you’ve broken the sound barrier, you’re actually going only 75kph. The noise is relentless, and you never feel at ease with what the drivetrain is doing – and neither does it.
The ride isn’t bad though. The independent strut-type front, torsion beam rear suspensions and ripplecontrol shock absorbers with damper rebound springs help to keep things smooth on the move.
The steering, electrically assisted, is very light, making it easy to manoeuvre in tight spots, and it even has ABS and EBD, but really, none of this matters because of that dreaded CVT. Sure, it improves the fuel economy, but it also makes what could have been a fab little city runabout into, unfortunately, an average one. Miley and Justin never sounded so good...
motoring The interior is
roomy and well-crafted – more like a mid-sized saloon
than a hatchback
i INSIDE INFO Specs & ratings Model: Tiida SL Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder
135bhp @ 6,000rpm
Max torque: 174Nm @ 3,600rpm Top speed: NA 0-100kph: NA Price: Dh82,400 Plus: Much improved both inside and out
Minus: Take a wild guess