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2007 nissan qashqai 1.6 acenta specs

ALTHOUGH the past year or so has seen the arrival of a number of new Nissan products, this Japanese marque has been poorly represented in the crucial family hatchback/ saloon segment by the ageing, bland and forgettable Almera. Don’t let the Almera’s regular Top 10 sales appearances fool you – it was bought primarily by fleet operators. Private buyers weren’t interested, simply because there are so many other, better rivals out there.

Well, say good morning to the Tiida (meaning “dawn of a new day” in Japanese), a range of compact hatches and saloons that is crucial to Nissan South Africa for more than just one reason. It not only has to make money in a market dominated by some seriously good rivals, but seeing as the Tiida is locally built, its arrival has been the result of major local investment. It simply has to succeed.

The first Tiida to arrive for testing was this bright green/gold 1,6-litre Acenta hatchback. Initial impressions were hardly favourable, with the Tiida’s slightly old-fashioned overall appearance drawing comments such as, “boring”, “uninspired” and “dated”. There are some interesting design elements though, such as the attractive rear lights and uniquely shaped rear side windows.

The Tiida rides on the extended Renault/Nissan joint platform that also underpins the Micra and Modus. It’s 2,6-metre wheelbase may not be the longest in the segment, but at 1,55 metres high, it is taller than most. And the overall design of the interior seems to have been done with the singleminded objective of achieving segment- leading occupant space.

Space aside, however, there is nothing special about the appearance and execution of the overall design of the interior. The facia is an old-fashioned looking square item with a high-up centre hangdown section with space underneath for lidded double drinkholders. Several other hidey holes are placed underneath and to the side of the steering wheel.

Uninspiring design aside, one has to note that everything feels well put together, even if the quality of some of plastics is nothing to write home about.

Acenta models come with a high specification. Standard items include air-conditioning, electric windows all round, power mirrors, front foglamps, leather/cloth upholstery, height-adjustable steering, radio/CD player, dual front and curtain airbags, and a driver’s seat that can be adjusted for height. We would have liked steering-mounted audio controls to be included too, and the fitment of a clunky slider, instead of a button, for the recirculation/fresh air functions is disappointing.

Not all our testers managed to find a comfortable driving position. There are mainly two reasons for this – firstly, the steering wheel cannot be adjusted for reach and, secondly, some couldn’t find the desired backrest angle.

Turn the key – Tiida has an oldfashioned separate key and immobiliser fob – and the 1,6-litre, four cylinder engine under the bonnet fires up quietly and immediately settles into a refined, smooth idle. It is a brand new all-aluminium engine that delivers 1 kW less (80 kW at 6 000 r/min) than the 1,6 used in the Almera. But it does have considerably more torque (153 N.m at 4 400) at its disposal. Power goes to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox that is praiseworthy for its shortthrow shift action, but can baulk if rushed. Overall, the powertrain exhibits good refinement, as long as you don’t explore the upper reaches of the rev range, where it can start sounding rather strained.

We achieved good figures during our performance testing – the Tiida clocking up a 188 km/h top speed and a brisk 0-100 km/h time of 10,6 seconds. Overtaking acceleration was less impressive because the torque peak is relatively high.

The Tiida rides on the usual MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension design. Steering is via electrically-assisted rack and pinion. Most testers agreed that although the steering feel is numb, actual accuracy is not bad. We just wish it had more consistent weighting. Stopping power is provided by ventilated discs in front and drums at the rear. ABS with EBD and BAS is standard. Our 100 km/h to zero brake test routine resulted in an average stopping time of 3,03 seconds. Brake testing revealed an unpleasant dynamic trait. Jump on the brakes and there’s an initial awkward wobble from the car’s body that doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence. Out on the road, this trait manifests itself especially under hard braking and initial corner turn-in. It’s not too serious, but it will upset keen drivers. Then again, the Tiida doesn’t really target enthusiastic drivers. The overall emphasis is very much on ride comfort.

In today’s fashion conscious world, this car is an odd-ball that puts the emphasis on honest practicality. But, besides its enormous cabin, it doesn’t move the game on in any way and, as a result, its appearance on the market is unlikely to give the competition major headaches. Still, it is not a bad car – for the more practical- minded motorist, for whom a car is merely a means of getting from A to B, the Tiida represents a good buy. It is comfortable, incredibly spacious, well priced and performs well, too. Think of it as a hatchback/small MPV crossover and you’ve got the idea.