The Nissan Sunny diesel has actually made many buyers who are looking for a mid-size sedan sit up and take notice. It has three very strong propositions to offer space, comfort and mileage. And that for any buyer is reason enough to consider the Sunny.

nissan sunny diesel xv action shot

The petrol Sunny that we tested earlier, shook the segment up with the amount of interior space it offered. Read more on the Sunny petrol here. The diesel Sunny is identical, but adds further value to the car with its excellent fuel efficiency of over 19.2 kmpl in the city (as tested), and a claimed mileage of  21.64 kmpl.

rear sunny

So just how good is the Sunny diesel to drive. Is it really a better alternative to an SX4, Rapid or Verna? We drove a Nissan Sunny Diesel XV (the top-end diesel variant) for a few days and were really impressed by this car.

Looks, fit and finish

Exterior

The Sunny from the outside actually looks like a fairly long car, with coupe-like styling at the rea which hides the bulk of the boot. In terms of overall length, the Sunny is just 4425 mm, which is actually less than a car like the Maruti SX4 which is at 4490 mm. But it’s the way in which Nissan has intelligently used the full length of the platform to maximize interior space and luggage space that makes the Sunny such a spacious car.  The engine compartment takes up minimal area while the cabin makes full use of the 2600 mm wheel base (that’s about 100 mm more than the SX4). The remote-operated 490 litre boot is deep and can swallow a fair amount of luggage.

The top-end XV diesel gets 15-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps and full keyless entry with chrome door handles, to set it apart from mid-trim XL variant.

interior sunny

Interior

Step into the Sunny and you are immediately greeted with a sense of space, especially if you get into the rear seat. Legroom at over 636 mm is the largest in its class and a few segments above. That’s over half a metre of legroom, allowing you to stretch out and sit in comfort. The light “greige” (beige and grey) interiors add to the roominess. The plastics are slightly hard but look like they will be long lasting.

Comfort and features

Nissan has also thoughtfully introduced a “rear-comfort fan” which is like rear AC vents placed between the front two seats and has a two-speed blower motor inside. This helps in air-circulation in the car. The rear seat gets a drop down arm rest with cupholders. The dashboard could do with some improvement, as the center console looks a little bland, and the rectangular music system and center AC vents don’t quite go with the rest of the rounded theme in the car. But that’s just nitpicking. The automatic climate control works pretty well to cool the large cabin.

rear comfort fan

The steering is nice and easy to grip, with well-placed steering audio controls. The “fine-vision” meters incorporate a multi-info display that shows you range, instant mileage, average consumption and trip meters. The car features a push-button ignition system and power-folding mirrors. In terms of safety, the car comes with dual front airbags and ABS as standard.

The boot is huge and can swallow plenty of luggage. However, the rear seats don’t fold inward, which would have otherwise made this spacious car, even more versatile. Rear seat comfort is excellent and the slightly soft suspension set up means this car actually glides over most surfaces comfortably, without upsetting rear seat passengers. The middle row passenger may find shoulder room a bit of a bother, but legroom is good and the transmission tunnel does not intrude.

Performance and handling

The Sunny diesel is powered by Nissan’s tried-and-tested 1.5 litre common-rail diesel engine (1461 cc, K9K engine), that puts out 85 bhp of power at 3,750 rpm and 200 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. This is mated to a smooth 5-speed manual transmission. Shift quality is good, but the gear lever did feel a bit notchy. The clutch is light and easy to use.

It’s the way in which this car delivers its torque that makes it great to drive in city traffic. Torque comes in smoothly from as low as 1200 rpm and you can easily rev from 25 kmph all the way up to 80 kmph in third gear. The engine is quite refined and sound dampening is good. Engine sound does not intrude into the cabin, except at high rpm and one can easily carry on a conversation in the car without getting bothered by the engine.

The electric power steering feels very light. Because the car has a fairly soft suspension, there is some degree of uncertainty in handling, when driven in a sporty manner. But then, this car is not meant to be driven in a sporty manner – it is better suited for relaxed cruising in the true sense of the term.

Of course, the car easily handles three digit highway speeds as well without a fuss.

Mileage

If you drive at a relaxed pace with the Sunny diesel, you can be assured of very few trips to the fuel station to fill up. During our 300 km road test, we managed to get over 19.2 kilometers to the litre of diesel in city conditions and some highway driving, all with the climate control switched on full-time. The claimed mileage on the Sunny diesel is 21.64 kmpl. It really is a very fuel efficient sedan, and when you consider the kind of space it offers, it presents a very strong case for itself.

What we think

The key proposition for the Nissan Sunny is space. The diesel Sunny adds mileage and comfort to that. When you take these three factors into account, it’s easy to see why the Sunny diesel is one of the most value for money cars in its segment, even though it is priced on the higher side. This car is ideally suited for family buyers who want to ferry family and luggage around in comfort, or also for the corporate executive, who wants to conduct business from the rear seat, while saving a quick buck on fuel.

If you are in the market for a spacious, premium-looking family sedan which gives great mileage, the Sunny diesel definitely meets your needs.

What we like

  • Rear-seat space
  • Good ride comfort
  • Excellent fuel economy

What we dislike

  • Audio system choice
  • Plastic feels hard
  • Lack of dealer reach