I have to admit, the latest designs from Nissan (besides the gorgeous GTR) are not exactly my cup of tea. ‘Mundane’ and ‘Bulky’ would be my choice of words describing the offerings from the Nissan-Renault pack. However, when my uncle signed on the dotted line for a Sylphy from just a test drive, I had to find out why.
The first impression is the rather wide and ‘in your face’ chrome grill. It creates a sense of presence though unlike the ‘fierceness’ seen on the Murano and Grand Livina design. The headlamps have a bulge on the top that Nissan claims to assist parking. Nonetheless, I find them rather useless as they are not really at the end of the corner.
Sideways, it has the looks of a stretched hatchback. Nissan calls it ‘S-motion Design’ which is oddly explained as ‘giving the excitement of being dressed up to go out on the town’ in their web site. I wonder if the designers have read too much ‘Fashion Weekly’. Anyway, the penned lines does strongly resemble to its elder sibling – the Teana. Finished rather clean and simple, the rear rump is a wee bit boring to me.
Beige and woody is the theme here. But instead of the usual polished wood fittings, the ones in place actually look like real solid wood. The upper portion of the dash and door trims are dark gray with the timber trim running above the beige part, crafting a pleasant and cozy environment. The steering is sadly too plain and quite disappointing when the competitors are already offering multifunction versions. One unusual feature however is the antibacterial treatment on the steering and gear shifter.
Instead of a handbrake, it has a foot operated parking brake. With that space, designers came up with a creative armrest assembly. Firstly, it has a huge cubbyhole with a dedicated lamp integrated into the armrest. Secondly the armrest itself has 2 levels of compartment. Very ‘IKEA’ if you were to ask me.
The seats are in a league of their own. In fact the term ‘couch’ would be more suited because they really bolster the occupant. The ‘Masumi’ cushion fabric is as equally inviting as it is to sit in. Rear passengers’ legroom is generous at 680mm. The only drawback is the slightly narrow width and cushion design that favors 2 occupants
The balancer shaft equipped MR20DE block pumps out a healthy 191Nm of torque at 4400 rpm, and 98kW at 5200 rpm. Coupled with Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox, gear changes are seamlessly brisk and will easily accelerate to 3 figured speeds.
Tuned for relaxed driving and fitted with 195/65/R15 series Yokohama Aspec donuts, the Syphy glides over yellow lines and rough roads with just slight thuds. Push it at the corners, and the body would pitch slightly in protest. The ABS, EBD plus BA equipped brakes and electronically powered steering are assuring and firm. At highway speeds, wind noise is nicely muted with only minimal intrusion from the wheels.
With the Civic cashing on the younger market and the Altis on the family man, the Sylphy coincidentally has the looks to fill in leftover gap. Nonetheless with the Impul version, Nissan might possibly claw back some lost ground.
So does the standard version make the cut? Yes, it still does for those looking for a family sedan with almost ‘magic carpet ride’ quality without the price of a limb. Furthermore with Tan Chong’s recent special low interest lending rates, the typical uncles’ choice might be the wisest after all.