When killing time in front of the television I occasionally stumble across a reality TV show named Wife Swap, where two wives/mothers are taken from their homes and well¦ swapped. The effects of this are always suitably dramatic as a household has to adapt to an all-new matriarchal style. With its new Tiida, Nissan has pulled a wife swap of its own by retiring the Pulsar and swapping it for the unfamiliar Tiida. The Pulsar was an evergreen favorite on our streets for over two decades and was the type of reliable car passed around families and always trusted with a heavy workload. Now, the Pulsar is gone and has left behind some large high-heels for the new mistress to fill.
One look from any angle reveals that the Tiida has some styling charm, but falls short of being totally gorgeous. Strong lines and sharp angles give the Tiida an almost manic appearance. But with its split grille and intricate light-clusters front and back the Tiida could never be accused of being plain. The quirky styling has an obvious European flavour courtesy of co-development between Nissan and French partner Renault. The wheelbase has been lengthened by 65mm over the Pulsar and the Tiida sits noticeably taller resulting in a huge interior space for its class. Another benefit of the new form is fantastic aerodynamics that help attain an impressive 7.6L/100km fuel economy. Overall the exterior is modern with a strong sense of style if not quite the wow factor really needed at the meet and greet stage.
Step inside and the extroverted exterior is quickly forgotten, replaced by an understated and refined cabin. Grey/black matte plastics mingle with touches of metal-look silver to provide a warm relaxed atmosphere. Dash layout is intuitive and user friendly, the instrument dials are large, separately housed and easily read. Fit and finish is strong with a feeling of quality to all touch surfaces and moving parts. The class-leading interior spaciousness manifests itself in generous headroom and a comfortable seating layout. Front seats are wide and supportive and the rear bench is capable of seating three adults without the banging-elbow discomfort that often plagues small cars. The middle rear seat is equipped only with an out-of-favour lap belt, which may put off the safety conscious. The driving position is elevated and up right which adds to the good visibility created by generous windows. The rear hatch has a large, well-shaped loading area, and the rear seat back has a useful 60/40 split to increase luggage capacity. The Tiida’s interior is very comfortable, well positioned and potentially hardwearing making it a match for the Pulsars practicality.
When faced with the daily chores the Tiida gets the job done, its 1.8-litre 16-valve DOHC four-cylinder produces 93kW and 174Nm or torque. The engine is flexible round town but has little true pace. That said, it feels comfortable in the low-rev range and is a capable motorway cruiser. The four-speed automatic transmission has a smooth shift action and remains attentive, but can be guilty of shifting up prematurely and robbing the driver of an edge more performance.
The Tiida is equipped with an electric power steering system that is light and razor sharp if not entirely consistent with the vehicles overall relaxed driver experience. Generally the Tiida’s handling characteristics are sound with ample grip in most conditions and minimal understeer when pushed hard. There is an acceptable level of body roll, which is a negative effect from the Tiida’s tall stance and accented further by the elevated driving position. Pliant suspension keeps the Tiida honest over bumps and uneven road surfaces, but it’s a firm set-up and not ideal on gravel or loose roads. The Tiida is a refined, no fuss, and predictable car to drive and unlike an episode of Wife Swap there are no dramas.
The Tiida brings a good standard equipment level for its $29,450 price tag, ABS brakes with EBD (electronic brake force distribution), seat belt pretensioners, air-con, keyless entry, and a CD stereo. The Sport variant is dolled up with a rear roof spoiler and alloy wheels.
It may take a while to forget the Nissan Pulsar but the Tiida is a worthy replacement with a character all its own. There are strong hints of French styling and European refinement, leaving no doubt that the Tiida is born from Nissan’s marriage to Renault. If you’re after a true sports hatch with power and dynamic handling, you will have to look elsewhere. If you’re in the market for a highly practical, spacious, easy to drive car with a touch of flair and a good price then accept the Tiida into your family for its merits and don’t look back.
Click through to the next page for a list of Nissan Tiida Sport specifications
What we like:
- Spacious, refined interior
- Precise steering
- Easy to drive
What we don’t like:
- Over styled exterior
- Body roll
Words and Photos Adam Mamo
Nissan Tiida Sport (2008) – Specifications
DOHC 16 valve with CVTC
Capacity (cc) 1797
Max power [email protected] [email protected],200
Max torque [email protected] [email protected],800
Bore x stroke (mm) 84.0 x 81.1
Compression ratio 9.9
Emission control — 3 way catalytic converter
Induction — sequential multi-point fuel injection
Fuel tank capacity (litres) 52
Recommended fuel — unleaded 91 RON or higher
Fuel Consumption (litres/100km) to ADR 81/01excl. 7.8
CO2 Emission (g/km) LTNZ Standard Manual 174 Automatic 178
Emission Compliance Standard Euro 3
Suspension & Steering
Front — independent McPherson struts with stabiliser bar
Rear — Torsion bar with coil springs
Steering system — power assisted, rack and pinion
Turning circle (m) 10.4
Power assisted front discs
Anti-locking brake system (ABS)
Electronic distribution (EBD)
Brake assist (BA
Wheelbase (mm) 2600
Overall length (mm) 4205
Overall width (mm) 1695
Overall height (mm) 1535
Track Front/Rear (mm) 1480/1485
Ground clearance 115
Tare weight unladen (kg) (manual/automatic) 1120/1136
Towing Capacity (braked/unbraked trailer) (kg) 1000/600
Luggage capacity (l) 289