Nissan Tiida Ti
Price Guide (recommended price before statutory and delivery charges): $21,990
Options fitted to test car (not included in above price): Nil
Crash rating: four stars (ANCAP)
Fuel: 91 RON ULP
Claimed fuel economy (L/100km): 7.6
CO2 emissions (g/km): 182
Also consider: Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Mazda2
Overall rating: 2.5/5.0
Price, Packaging and Practicality: 3.5/5.0
Behind the wheel: 2.5/5.0
About our ratings
Nissan's Tiida was launched in Australia early in 2006 as a replacement for the N16 Pulsar. Since then it has been upgraded and re-positioned to net more market share, but is still perceived to be an also-ran in the VFACTS small-car segment. That's unfortunate for a car that offers such sensible packaging and many of the traditional Nissan virtues at an affordable price.
In its latest form, subtly facelifted and re-positioned with more equipment for a lower price, the Tiida represents very good value. In the case of the Tiida Ti on test, the car comes with leather upholstery and a six-disc CD audio system with MP3 capability.
And at $21,990 (with manual transmission), there's not much around to touch it. You won't get either of those features in even Hyundai's i30 SX, the car in the Korean importer's range that currently comes closest to the Tiida for size, price and general specification.
But an equipment list is one thing, it's how the equipment comes together as a package that counts.
We found that the seats in the Tiida were oddly shaped. They were comfy enough, but the contouring seemed to have been modelled on a geisha girl's physique. For a full-size bloke it was like sitting in an oversize thimble. The squab was short and the backrest rolled away from your back around the scapula -- too low, in other words.
The driving position was a little odd in other ways too. There was no reach adjustment in the steering and this reviewer found that even with the seat positioned closer to upright than a lot of drivers prefer, the wheel was still a stretch, but the pedals were too close.
If you're carting kids around in the back, you may have second thoughts about strapping one into the centre seat position, since there's just a lap belt there -- not a three-point seatbelt that you might expect in a car at this price. It also seemed a moderately strange choice of specification in a car fitted as standard with side-curtain airbags.
Those were the principal gripes concerning the Tiida's packaging. In other respects, it was a pretty handy device. Nissan's designers have provided the driver with an unobstructed view of the instruments, which were clearly labelled for ease of legibility and the graphics showed on a white background during the day or a black background at night -- so it's one to recommend for Blind Freddy.
There was more than adequate head and legroom for adults, front and rear. With a relatively high H-point, ease of access was a given. Doors were light and easy to close securely. Our favourite niggle with the tailgate: the recess for pulling it down is reversed from the ideal, so users must twist the (right) hand around to lower the tailgate.
Luggage capacity is more in keeping with that of a light car than a small car, but it is good enough for most around-town shopping and kids' sporting gear haulage. The rear seat will slide forward for added luggage space, if necessary. Lowering the seat for larger objects in the boot was reasonably straightforward, but the seats don't fold up against the front seats, so you can't have a flat floor right through from the boot.
As mentioned, Nissan recently upgraded this model with leather trim as standard, and the plastics and other material (the cloth trim for the headlining for example) are about right for feel and solidity. Overall, the quality of the interior trim materials was fairly decent for a car of this price.
We would say that the ambience and presentation of the interior was slightly let down by little things such as the gearshift, which, while undeniably light, is also notchy. As compensation for the fleamarket feel of the shifter, the steering wheel was leather-bound, nicely sized and good to grip.
For its size -- and particularly height -- the Tiida is more agile than expected. There is some body roll, but less than anticipated and the car turned out quite nippy. Little to no understeer, turn-in that was responsive for a car such as this and the communicative feedback through the steering wheel were all welcome. As with other (larger) Nissans, there was no twitchiness about the Tiida in a corner, it was quite dependable.
Ride quality straddled the light and small-car segments once again. It wasn't as compliant as for some of the better class of small car around, but we'd be really hard pressed to nominate a light car that would better the Tiida's ride. Perhaps Ford's Fiesta would come close -- and the latest Volkswagen Polo.
The Tiida's engine provides decent torque at lower revs and in the mid-range. In fact, it is more about the torque than the power. There are other small cars (and a couple of light cars too) that provide stronger straight-line performance than the Tiida, but the Nissan is easy to drive and requires little thrashing to get up to speed. That's a particularly appropriate word to use too -- 'thrashing'.
The Tiida's engine becomes strident at 5000rpm and higher, without necessarily providing gainful acceleration. Most drivers will happily rev the car to about 4500rpm and then change up a cog.
Fortunately, the six-speed manual box provides very well-spaced ratios to suit the engine's temperament. With the final drive, first gear and the engine all working in unison, the Tiida whips away from a standing start but as we've found with another car of similar size in the past, the acceleration in intermediate gears drops away.
We saw fuel use averaging 8.0L/100km, which was not too shabby for the flogging it received -- although that did also include an open-road trip to Geelong and back.
Headlights proved very good during night driving. Low beams were surprisingly capable for a car as inexpensive as this one and, frankly, rated better than the headlights of at least one homegrown large car, in our experience.
Just a word on intangibles... Much has been said of the Tiida name and the car's styling undoubtedly works against it too. The styling, which looked odd when the car was released, is now starting to look dated -- and is still quirky. It's a shame if that discourages prospective buyers who will otherwise find the Tiida to be durable, accommodating and dynamically capable.
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