May 14, 2012
Nissan Tiida is a bargain on the used-car market because of its surprising lack of popularity on the new-car scene. Several times during its five years the new car price was dropped to try and improve sales.
But why didn’t it sell well in the first place? Primarily because it was the successor to the ultra-successful Nissan Pulsar, but the management decided to give it a strange new name. At least we were spared attempts to give it the official pronunciation of Tee-eeda... But the name never struck a cord and next time around the replacement model will, thankfully, be called Pulsar again.
Nissan Tiida has a somewhat boxy style, but that’s to make it a very spacious interior. There's as much, if not more, legroom in the rear as you will get in most large family cars. As well as good headroom and shoulder room to go with it.
The front seats are almost as large as those of a six-cylinder car, thanks partly to an ingenious design that sees the adjustment levers being placed in the frequently-wasted space between the two seats.
The boots of both the sedan and hatch are large, with the topline Tiida hatch having a further useful feature of sliding rear seats so that you can further increase the size if you don’t need full legroom in the back seat.
Noise and vibration suppression are impressive giving the sort of refined feeling you would normally expect from a car of the next size upwards. Ride comfort is good, with a reasonably supple feel from the suspension. However, the electrically-assisted system is over light and on the vague side.
Power comes from a new design of 1.8-litre twin-cam engine with good torque from about 2000 rpm upwards. The engine is a little reluctant to rev and fairly noisy towards the top end of its power band, but it’s not really aimed at the sporting driver so that’s forgivable.
Tiida has a six-speed manual gearbox, making it a leader in the class at the time. The shift is surprising noisy and gives a real clunk-clunk sound with every gearchange. We find it irritating, owners say they get used to it.
On the other hand, the automatic is an old style four-speed unit, though it works well enough and the engine isn’t doing silly revs at motorway speeds. Nissan Tiidas originally came from Japan, later a Nissan factory in Thailand provided most Australian imports. This is a factor in the low price of the car due to a trade agreement between Australia and Thailand. Build quality is almost as good in the strictly controlled Thai factory from the Japanese one.
In March 2010 the Nissan Tiida got a comprehensive facelift that saw the front of the car being extended and reshaped. A new radiator grille added to this look. The topline Tiida Ti had its side skirts done in the same colour as the rest of the body to visually take some of the height out of the car.
Nissan (nee Datsun) has operated in Australia since the mid 1960s so has a strong, experienced network of dealers. There are more dealers in country areas than is normal for Asian cars in this class and Pulsar was a big seller in the bush – Tiida didn’t so as well. Spare parts prices and servicing are reasonably priced and we seldom hear any complaints about parts availability.
Insurance premiums are on the modest to midrange in price and there are seldom any big differences from company to company. It’s always worth shopping around, but be sure you’re doing an accurate comparison on what is, and is not, covered in the policy.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Check for crash damage or previous repairs as these can seriously affect the resale value of the car. Sight along the doors and look for ripples in the finish of the panels. Look for paint colours that don’t quite match from panel to panel. Tiny specks of paint on non-painted surfaces such as windows, badges and brightwork are another sign of a repaint.
Nissan Tiidas are popular as family cars so look for a damaged interior created by bored kids. Look at the condition of the boot mats in case heavy loads have been ripping about during cornering or braking.
Make sure that the engine starts easily and idles smoothly from the moment it ticks over. Be suspicious of any rattles from the bottom, these may indicate slow pickup of the oil. Check for smoke from the exhaust if the engine is worked hard, driving up a hill in a high gear is a good test.
Be sure that the clutch takes up positively, gearchanges are all light and easy and that there is no sign of clutch slip. An automatic transmission that has harsh changes may need be overdue for a service, or even major repairs.
CAR BUYING TIP
Buy at the end of the month because there’s a good chance the sales person is on a bonus system and wants as many sales as possible for that month.