Cars &Flying Nerd recommends 15 May 2007 04:12 pm

Nissan Tiida – silly name, not a bad car

Here’s something new for the Flying Nerd – car reviews.

Those who know me will also know that I’m partial to a nice car. Past inhabitants of the FN garage have included a Nissan Pulsar SSS, Ford Falcon XR6, Subaru Liberty RX and VW Golf GTI (no, I’m not known for my brand loyalty). The current Nerd-mobile – a 5-year-old Ford Escape (nee Mazda Tribute) – reflects the triumph of function over form: it can tow a glider trailer and is not discomfited when bashing around the perimeter tracks at a country airfield. The Golf GTI was far from ‘at home’ in that environment.

Just for this week, the Escape is away having some repairs done, and in its place, AAMI has furnished (for the princely sum of $15 per day) a Nissan Tiida. I thought it might be fun to pass comment on this latest model tiddler from Nissan.

Overall, the Tiida is a pretty good little car. It’s not a car for enthusiasts, but for a small family looking for practical around-town transportation, the Tiida would be a decent solution.

Size, creature comfort

The Tiida is small on the outside (lots of extra space in the garage compared to the Escape) but AMAZINGLY spacious inside. The rear set legroom is massive – more than in any of the cars I’ve owned in the past, and that includes the Falcon. Shoulder room would be cramped for three across the back (and the person in the middle would be at risk in an accident, being protected by a lap-only seatbelt), but there really is heaps of room for two.

The front seats are comfortable and well shaped. The rear seats have long bases: the smaller of the nerdlets finds that she has to move her bottom forward in order to bend her knee over the front of the seat.

The car is very quiet inside, which highlights the woeful quality delivered by the standard audio system (at least on the ST model I’m driving). Bass is weak and muddy, treble poorly defined. Perhaps the up-market models have something better.

Engine, transmission

The engine is willing and free-revving, with a pleasant note. On a trailing throttle or at idle, it’s virtually silent. Push your right foot down, and the car accelerates surprisingly well.

But as you accelerate away, you’ll also be exposed to one of the low points of this car: the automatic transmission. It’s a four-speeder, and it shifts smoothly enough, but it kicks down too quickly and can hunt between gears when climbing a hill. I reckon the six-speed manual would be an excellent complement to the Tiida’s engine – a competent driver would certainly get more out of this car with a do-it-yourself shifter. (Note that cruise control is not available on the manual – a showstopper as far as I’m concerned.)

Ride, handling

Ride and handling are, frankly, excellent.

The car is smooth and quiet over bumps (little or no suspension crashing), and it goes around corners like a wheel-at-each-corner small car should. I’m really impressed by the quality of the ride and handling in what is, after all, a very cheap new car.

Letting the side down in this area, however, are the skinny tyres. It’s very easy to get a squeal from the tyres on a hilly bend, or a chirp when pulling out of a driveway. The chassis is good enough to handle more ‘rubber on the road’, and the squealing tyres remind you of this… often. If I were buying a Tiida, I’d look to upgrade wheels and tyres from the standard 185/65R15s to something like a 205/55R16. I’m sure that the compliant suspension could handle the reduced sidewall depth.

Other comments

Look, it’s a cheap car and this shows in some places. Some of the interior trim is tacky-looking. The jack handle and jack rattle around under the floor in the boot (the handle is in a small pouch resting inside the spare wheel, but is otherwise not secured; the jack is held loosely to the bottom of the spare wheel well by what looks like a large rubber band).

I’ve also noted that the steeply-raked windscreen combines with a less-than-matte-finish dashboard top to produce some very distracting reflections early or late in the day.


Like the title of the post says: this is not a bad car. Not great either. Six Nerd Points out of ten.

2 Responses to “Nissan Tiida – silly name, not a bad car”

  1. on 20 Jun 2007 at 8:59 (Sydney) 1.maithem said …

    I bought Tiida 13 months ago. The only two things I didn’t like about it is the 4 speed automatic transmission and the tire. The engine is powerful (I have 1.8), the handling is quite well and the interior is something you can’t feel unless you ride in another compact car.

    It is a very nice car and did a good job here in Dubai. People are confident of this car now and you can see it is competing Toyota Corolla on the roads. I like Tiida’s sound system and the ability to adjust the seat. In short, it is worth it to buy this car comparing to the tiny Jazz -Fit- or Yaris.

  2. on 16 Nov 2007 at 3:29 (Sydney) 2.Ramesh said …

    Most of the good points are above. Comfort is above average. Auto power window raise on driver side would be welcome. Cons: Boot lock has small defect,
    Bottle holders are not for 1 litre bottles and non adjustable,