The new Nissan Tiida sets out to be as practical as a Swiss army knife and as commonsense as a toothbrush, so if you’re looking for a can of Red Bull with wheels and gaze upon the Tiida’s stumpy, upright lines with nothing even remotely resembling lust, then that’s fine. Nissan doesn’t care. Pass this article along to your Dad or Gran instead. This is the car for them.
The latest Nissan, the third instalment in Nissan’s Almera replacement trilogy, nearly never happened as Japan had no intention of importing the car to Ireland until Nissan's European operations pointed out the blatantly obvious - that a major manufacturer functioning without a conventional C-segment car in Europe is missing out on quite a few potential sales. Ireland is one of only a handful of countries to get the Tiida saloon as we think saloons are a big noise, apparently, and given how many are on the road already it seems that Nissan got this one spot on too.
As a consumer product, like a toaster or a fridge, the Tiida is simply remarkable. Here is a car that hardly takes up any extra space on the road over the Almera but you can lounge, and I do mean lounge, in any of its huge, sumptuous seats. The driving position is surprisingly high for a four-door saloon, so much so it almost feels like an MPV, but that does make the Tiida and easy car to get in and out of and it also provides the driver with an excellent view of the world around them. It’s also loaded with even the basic €21,000 SE model offering luxurious equipment like a height adjustable driver's seat, air conditioning and a Bluetooth hands-free phone kit, although ESP is an €800 option (from which Nissan says it makes no profit). Curiously, even the top SVE spec does without alloys as standard while satellite navigation combined with a CD interchanger is a harrowing €3,500. You do get automatic headlights and wipers, a bit more chrome and aluminium trim, 6 speakers, a trip computer, curtain airbags, a leather wheel and cruise control, though, so it isn’t isn’t bad for an extra €1,500.
The 110bhp 1.6 petrol unit goes about its business in a workmanlike way, pulling the car along with enough gusto to make you spit out your dentures. There is a surprising amount of shove when you need to overtake something and it’s a fairly smooth engine offering the driver hassle-free propulsion, although 5th gear is a little short for truly composed cruising. The ride quality is excellent, too, really remarkable in the way it shields passengers from the bumps and road imperfections. At 120km/h the noise suppression is also good - there is no vibration from any of the controls and it has to be said it really is top notch in the refinement and comfort stakes. Much of Nissan's marketing effort hinges on this car’s comfort and it is no idle claim to say that the Tiida is probably is the most comfortable car in its class.
Throw it into a corner and where the old Almera, fidgety as it was, would respond with decent body control the Tiida makes no effort to engage the driver and responds with pretty phenomenal levels of body roll. It actively discourages any of the shenanigans an enthusiastic driver might engage in, although the numb steering is reasonably responsive, the brakes are strong and responsive (the brake pedal is the only major control that actually transmits any sort of feel back to the driver) and the gearchange is reasonably precise, if a little rubbery.
As a car in the new car sense of the word the Tiida is only alright, nothing staggering but nothing horrible either. As a means of getting you and yours from point A to point B, it really is excellent. Nissan have abandoned any notion of engaging the enthusiast (pity as it can be a dab hand at it) but the Tiida is nonetheless guaranteed to be a huge success. It's as difficult to use as a pair of slippers, it appears to be very well built and for the money it is quite well equipped. In fact, and if I had no interest at all in cars I would be probably be very interested in the Tiida indeed.
Verdict: Not the most stylish car in the world, nor the sharpest to drive either, but well specified and incredibly plainless to live with. Not bad value either.