2009 Nissan Tiida | road test

Posted on Nov 11, 2008 by

The release of the
original Volkswagen Beetle all those decades ago single-handedly
coined the term ‘car for the people’, and since then the major
manufacturers have tried and tried, with varying levels of success,
to produce an affordable car that people can fall in love with. These
very special cars must command the right price, offer decent interior
space and comfort, be cheap and easy to service and provide at least
some sort of fun in the twisty stuff. The Beetle made its name with
all of these factors (except the hot handling aspect!) well looked
after, but, crucially, it had a style and charisma that people still
find almost irresistible to this day.

I think that even this
early into our AutoMiddleEast.com test drive report we can say with
fairly strong certainty that the TIIDA won’t be ending up in
the automotive hall of fame, parked next to the Beetle proud and
polished, but with compacts like the Micra a previous big hit for
Nissan, showing as it did a kind of cheeky charm, that we can
hopefully expect some good things from the TIIDA. And to make sure
you’re reading a truly comprehensive TIIDA , we’ve
bought together both the sedan and hatchback models side by side,
ensuring you the ultimate comparison.

A quick scan of the UAE
streets will spot you a fair few TIIDAs with rental and fleet
companies employing many of the little Nissans for their fleets. Now
this isn’t necessarily a testament to their quality or usability,
more a testament to the kind of bulk purchase deals that Nissan are
prepared to offer. However, general research with friends and
colleagues has turned up an interesting fact that if they were faced
with a choice of models during their compact rental term, that most
of them asked for the TIIDA. This is because, even without driving
the TIIDA or its competition, they feel a certain assurance that the
Nissan will be a quality, reliable car. And this reputation for the
Japanese brand is deserved – Nissan does build a solid car… but
can you love a TIIDA?

Well, take a look at our
pictures. For me, the hatchback is a little prettier than the sedan,
although the sedan does exude a feeling of more interior space, when
regarded from the outside, with the length of the additional trunk
giving the car a bigger outline. So, if you want to super-size your
compact right away, then the sedan could well be for you. Both cars
share a chunky, solidly reassuring look that confirms to the viewer
that certain level of Japanese quality, with the panels and exterior
components such as the headlights and door handles all showing a
solid and reliable look and feel. And that’s always a good start.
The 6-spoke alloy wheels were a tad on the plain side, if you ask me,
and when it comes to wheels, if you get it right they can really set
a car off – these 16-inchers didn’t.

The hatchback car has a
bit more of a cheeky, heart-warming style to it, but neither car made
me smile the moment I saw it. The TIIDA is clearly no VW Beetle,
making me feel instead that I was about to drive a car that was well
thought out and well engineered, and in this day and age where
equipment, safety and reliability are very much key, I guess that
Nissan wanted us to feel this way… and so far it’s working.

The driver’s door is
nicely weighted upon opening, with the door handle feeling nicely
chunky and firm. Nestling into the driver’s seat was also a fairly
fine experience. Both of the cars on test here are the
top-of-the-range 1.8 LE models and sported the finest interiors you
can spec from Nissan; one in beige (the sedan), the other in black
(the hatchback). I preferred the black interior, mixed-up as it was,
with dashes of brushed allumium-stlyle details throughout the
dashboard, centre consul and door handles etc. For me the black felt
sportier and a little more dynamic, while the beige, with wood-look
touches of the sedan’s interior felt a little too ‘mature’ for
my liking – I’m also fairly sure that the black will wear better
than the light-beige colour which would show dirt and stains easily…
so if you’ve got kids!

The seat itself was
comfortable enough, feeling well-padded and soft, however, at over
6-feet tall I could’ve done with a couple more ‘clicks’ back on
the seat runner. The steering wheel adjusted for tilt at least, but
if I’d had the extra backwards room I wanted I would’ve needed a
slide adjustment from the steering wheel, too. And the further I go
back the more I would encroach on the rear passenger legroom, which
was decent enough even with my seat pushed right back, considering
the car’s exterior dimensions. So, generally a good feeling from
the TIIDA’s interior ambience, and that’s a very big tick in the
right box for many buyers in this highly competitive market segment.

The all important air-con
returned a good blast at full power; the CD/radio entertainment
system had a good pace to it with even pedestrians enjoying my choice
of tunes, from quite some distance away! There is also an auxiliary
input socket for all you iPod fans out there. The rest of the
controls are simply laid out, easy to find and use, and quite
crucially for many people, there wasn’t too many of them. One
complaint I would have with the steering wheel controls and the
buttons located right at the bottom of the dashboard is that they are
not illuminated at night, so if you don’t remember where they are
and what they do, you have to start searching for and reading them,
and that’s not great at night, on the motorway, at 120kph.

 

 

Firing-up the TIIDA
engine is an old school affair with just a simple twist of the key in
the ignition, and you are greeted by nothing out of the ordinary in
terms of engine harmony. These top-of-the-range test cars featured
the 1.8-litre, 4-cylinder ‘MR18DE’ petrol engines that produce
127bhp and 173Nm of torque at around about 5000rpm on the tacho. So,
to get the most out of these power-plants you need to work them very
near to the readline, and that can be a bit of a thrashy affair.
Still, I was quite excited about the prospect of driving such a
compact car with a relatively big engine. But, unfortunately, I
didn’t get my socks blown-off.

Whilst the car picks up
the pace well enough, you can’t help thinking that with a bit more
power from this 1.8-litre engine, that Nissan could’ve sent quite a
sporty little number out into the market. But they didn’t and
instead you have to work the TIIDA hard to get it really going. And
doing that will see fairly unimpressive fuel consumption figures;
even at a 120kph cruise (with the A/C running) we saw an average of
around 6.3 litres per 100kms on the dashboard readout, which isn’t
that great if economy is high on your list. I would be very
interested to see if the 1.6-litre did that much better in terms of
economy; it surely can’t be that much slower!

Our cars utilised the
4-speed automatic gearbox, as generally favoured in the UAE, however,
there is a 6-speed manual to choose from, and that self-selection of
ratios could improve the overall pace slightly. The TIIDA cruised
nicely enough, with a plush ride, but at the higher speeds there was
a quite noticeable level of wind noise; time to turn up that stereo
then. When pushed hard through the bends the TIIDA showed the usual
front-wheel-drive characteristics of under-steer; basically pushing
its nose through the bend as the front tyres became overwhelmed. This
can be cured somewhat by lifting-off the gas pedal to shift some more
of the body weight to the front of the car, thus bringing the
back-end around a little, but you don’t really want to be doing
this through every bend, as it makes for a rather ragged driving
experience. This is the price you pay for the TIIDA’s basic and
soft suspension set-up, but ultimately, Nissan know that most drivers
in this segment will always take a plush, comfy ride over
razor-sharp, stiff handling. The steering was just as vague and
‘sloppy’ as the suspension, too, I’m afraid, but, again this is
a car for the people, and not that many people want over-direct
steering; preferring instead to use slower, more gentle inputs to
make their turns.

The brakes, on the other
hand, cannot really be faulted, with a nicely progressive feel
through the pedal travel, ending in a firm pedal and plenty of
braking force when applied strongly. Coupled with the latest
computer-controlled ABS anti-lock brakes, EBC Electronic Brakeforce
Control and BA Brake Assist, you can feel every confidence in the
TIIDA should you have to stop suddenly. There are also seatbelt
pretensioners and dual front airbags, should the worst actually
happen.

Having thoroughly driven
both the hatchback and sedan I can conclude that the hatchback looked
and felt a little more dynamic for me, but other than that the cars
were, of course, identical; the exact body shape being a choice based
on personal tastes and everyday needs. The is no
Volkswagen Beetle, lacking the charisma of the German classic;
however, it does deliver with reasonable efficiency many of the
real-world requirements of the budget motorist and as such is well
worth a test drive of your own.

Technical Specifications
Model2009 Nissan Tiida
Body style4-Door Hatchback & 5-Door Sedan
Engine1.8-litre 4-Cylinder (MR18DE)
Power127bhp
Torque173Nm
Transmission4-Speed Automatic
PriceAED59,500 – 61,500

* Prices are indicative and may vary at the time of purchase. All prices are ex-Dubai showrooms. Please check with your local dealer for current prices and offers.

 

2 Responses to 2009 Nissan Tiida | road test

  1. Memory Improvement Reply

    October 7, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Coupled with the latest computer-controlled ABS anti-lock brakes, EBC Electronic Brakeforce Control and BA Brake Assist, you can feel every confidence in the TIIDA should you have to stop suddenly.

  2. Singapore Health Talks Reply

    October 7, 2014 at 7:52 am

    TIIDA won’t be ending up in the automotive hall of fame, parked next to the Beetle proud and polished, but with compacts like the Micra a previous big hit for Nissan.

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