I am driving the Sunny and heading to Mahabalipuram, did I do this before? Yes just three months back, but it isn't sunny this time, it's actually raining and a cool wind is blowing. The car is a Sunny but it's the new diesel variant. The diesel was in the pipeline but Nissan have gone ahead and launched the car much before schedule. Not just that, the car makes its international debut in India. Makes sense since petrol here costs almost twice as much to the litre. But how does the car fare? Let's find out.
The engine used in the Sunny is a familiar unit now, the K9K common-rail unit co-developed by Nissan and Renault which is found under the hood of the Mahindra Logan, the Nissan Micra and the just launched Renault Pulse all producing 64PS of maximum power. Since the K9K motor ranges from 64PS to 110PS, the Sunny's engine gets an additional boost and produces 86PS at 3750rpm and 200Nm of torque at a low 2000rpm. Crank the engine and its quiet impression does make an impression. Vibration levels are low and the cabin is insulated well enough to keep the passengers guessing if it's a diesel. Nissan has tuned the ECU in sync with Indian road conditions so there is hardly any turbo lag making it feel more like a petrol motor. The power delivery is smooth and linear making it ideal for driving in the city. The torquey nature of the engine gives the Sunny capability to cruise effortlessly at three-digit speeds.
Nissan's V-platform, on which the Sunny is based, is known to be lightweight as seen in the petrol variant. The diesel is no exception. In fact the Sunny is one of the lightest diesel sedans in the country weighing just 1092kg. This has resulted in a good power to weight ratio of 78.75PS/ton. The gearbox is not very slick to operate but the shifts are precise, we would have preferred a shorter throw though. The clutch feels heavier compared to the petrol variant and takes a little more effort to engage. The gear ratios however are tall and well spread out, matching the engine's power delivery quite well.
We could not test the car but the Sunny diesel isn't as powerful as a Vento or a Verna but more in the SX4 diesel mould. We managed to see 160kmph on the speedometer. The ARAI-claimed figure is an impressive 23.08kmpl. The fuel tank holds 41 litres which translates to an incredible 946-kilometre range. The Sunny then is a car with impressive fuel economy and respectable performance.
The Sunny is available in two variants XV and XL. The entry level XV variant is priced at Rs 7.98 lakh, ex-showroom across India. This variant is pretty much loaded and offers a lot of standard equipment such as electric mirrors, integrated stereo with aux-in input, driver seat height adjust, automatic climate control, steering mounted stereo controls, keyless entry, rear air blower and most importantly ABS and front driver and passenger airbags - this focus on safety is something every manufacturer should adopt. This is good value for money since there is no other diesel sedan offering so much equipment at this price point. The XV variant is priced at Rs 8.78 lakh, ex-showroom across the nation and offers additional features such as fog lamps, alloy wheels and keyless ignition. The Sunny's phenomenal space combined with a frugal diesel engine and class leading features at a value price point will definitely appeal not just to the families looking for an upgrade but more importantly to a lot of fleet operators and taxi operators. Nissan definitely has the right ingredients to make the Sunny diesel a success.
Click here to find out how the Sunny pet
rol fares against the Verna and Etios