2014 Nissan Tiida Review
Indifferent, intrigued, interested, impressed, infuriated, indecisive, inherently not the review I thought I’d write
By Shahzad Sheikh
An avalanche of emotions? You might expect that from a Ferrari, but perhaps not a Nissan, or more specifically the Tiida. I had been waiting some time to ‘do the needful’ as people here (and perhaps many Tiida drivers) are fond of saying, and tick the workaday Hatchback off my list.
And when it finally did turn up, I’ll be honest, I didn’t exactly scream with delight and jump eagerly into the driving seat. It would be fair to say my overriding impression was one of indifference. And that was just the first of a train of emotions I went through.
When I finally summoned up the motivation to drive it, which mostly derived from the fact that I actually needed to go somewhere, I went downstairs to find someone had parked a previous gen Tiida next to it.
It gave me some pause and rather forced me to take another longer look at the new car. It’s strange how the mind often compensates and fills in the blanks in your memory. I thought I knew how the new Tiida looked; that is, that it looked pretty like a slightly newer version of the old Tiida.
Not really. Stood together the old Tiida instantly looked dated, clumsy, ill-proportioned, somewhat abrupt and even rather stern and severe next to the newer car. The latest gen edition on the other hand has a friendlier cleaner front, and there are swoopy lines along the sides, curving and pulling the body taught. And the sharp, claw-like wheels on this range-topping 1.8-litre give it decent presence.
So Tiida then. Not bad looking. So I’m intrigued. And once I’m inside, I’m even more interested. Because there’s a decent, tight-fitting quality feel to the cabin.
Unsurprisingly of course the ergonomics are good, the switchgear makes sense, and it’s all rather intuitive with a nice infotainment system taking up pride of place in the centre of the dashboard. Space and comfort is also good, and luggage space more than acceptable. But then all of this is about par for the course on one of the most popular city cars in the region.
Which is good. But from here, there’s a remarkably short jump to ‘impressive’. All it takes is to fire it up and hit the city streets. The first thing I note is how weighty the steering is, not the light, dim-witted and gloopy affair I was anticipating.
Then there’s the performance – we’re not talking sporty, but certainly peppy enough for the daily cut and thrust with a little extra from the decent motor. The ‘d’ in ‘impressed’ finally arrives in the actual dynamic ability itself.
I find myself chucking it harder and harder into corners, and revelling in the eager and accurate responses. It’s composed, understeer is kept to a minimum and its agility, visibility, dexterity makes it a genuine joy to peddle around town, as well as a comfy companion for longer-cruises.
But hang on a minute. It’s not all quite clear-cut. There’s a fly in the ointment, and it’s nasty, mean, beastly thing, probably aggravating the issue by being a personal pet hate. Yep the CVT automatic transmission drones incessantly, stretches and dulls the ratios, and seems to literally sap the life force out of the car.
It’s infuriating. Particularly as I can’t help but feel that with a proper self-shifter, this would actually be quite an enjoyable and satisfying car to drive, as well as being soundly practical, economical and sensible which is what a Tiida is meant to be after all. It’s that extra bonus of being entertaining that would elevate its status.
But the CVT causes consternation, and leaves me a little indecisive. As it is, however, it’s actually a very good car and a real step up from the previous generation. Previous Tiida owners/drivers will be delighted with the trade-up, whilst new-comers will be pleasantly pleased. And the real shock is that this is a Tiida that evokes emotion!
2014 Nissan Tiida 1.8SL
Price: AED75,000 (US$20k) – [Prices for the 1.6 range from AED53k-64,500]
Engine: 1.8-litre four-cylinder, 130bhp @ 6000rpm, 128lb ft @ 3600rpm
Performance: 9.0secs 0-100kph, 190kph, 8L/100 (est)
Transmission: CVT auto, front-wheel drive