Nissan Evalia - One more MPV

Nissan Evalia

Indian car manufacturer now have a new segment to target. Compact SUV’s, MPV and LUV’s are finding favour with Indian car buyers. Indian car buyers are falling in love with these cars simply because they are getting sedan like driveability, maneourve ability, size and features.

Amongst this action there’s also been news of GM launching its ‘Enjoy’ this November. Ford and Honda are also developing their own family of cars to compete in this segment for India. With stagnating sedan numbers and multiplying UV numbers Indian car manufacturers are convinced that Compact SUV, MUV/MPV segment is the way forward. To cash in on this demand, Nissan launches the Evalia and becomes the 4th such option car to be launched in this Compact SUV, MUV/MPV segment. Maruti Ertiga, Renault Duster and Mahindra Quanto being the other 3 cars launched earlier in 2012.

Toyota has been enjoying a solo run for last many years in the Indian car market in this segment. Toyota seems to have understood and latched on to this segment much earlier or should we say since their launch in India. No wonder both their cars in this segment enjoyed huge fan following, first it was the Qualis and then with Innova. Mahindra too got it right with the Xylo.

The question that remains to be seen and which only time will tell is whether the Nissan Evalia has in it, the space, comfort and refinement that Indian car buyers are seeking from these cars.

Nissan Evalia – Exterior and Styling

Space is what MPVs have always been bought for. In this people mover segment, style therefore takes a back seat. However Innova and Ertiga have shown that it needn’t be so. Unfortunately Nissan Evalia’s near similar looks to the Maruti EECO seems to have taken the Evalia done the styling rung some few notches. It’s tall and boxy which makes it look more like a cargo van that’s been modified to make it look like the modern day MPV. The answer for the same is not very difficult to fathom as the Evalia is an upgraded version of Nissan’s NV200 sold internationally, which is basically a load carrier.

Nissan designers seem to have focussed a lot on the front styling of the Evalia. Gently flowing V-shaped grille into the rising headlamps and the distinctive upswept front windows makes the front look quite smart. Whilst the designer seems to have managed the front quite well, however, it also seems that they ran out of ideas immediately. Rest of the Evalia looks quite boxy and lacks designer flair that Indian car buyers are lapping so eagerly and with open wallets.

Whilst Nissan Evalia’s side profile does have creases and runs the length of the car, however, the small rear windshield with lots of metal around takes one away from these design enhancing lines to the boxy rear. This brings back memories of the flat rear of the WagonR and EECO.

14” Alloy which the Evalia runs on looks a tad under-sized for a car of this size (but so do the tyres of the Innova). Smaller tyres means smaller wheel well, which in turns liberates the interiors space. Smart Thinking! Squarish tail, small rear windshield does make the Evalia look quite regular, but the Evalia’s massive tailgate which opens wide along with low loading boot lip makes luggage loading convenient and easy. This sure is thanks to its NV200 heritage, which as stated earlier is a load carrier. This low floor, front-wheel driven, monocoque-bodied Evalia definitely has space advantage over the rear wheel driven ladder on frame constructed Mahindra Xylo and Toyota Innova. Evalia with a Kerb weight of 1426kg, is almost 200 kg lighter than the Innova and a full 400 kg less than the Xylo!. Both these are pretty neat advantages that Evalia has over these cars.

Nissan Evalia - Features 

At Rs.9.99 lacs top-end Indian car buyers are not going to settle for utilitarian features, which unfortunately is what the Evalia communicates at a first glance. Yes the beige plastic and bright seat fabric does help, but does not communicate the plush feeling of the Innova. Sunny could get away with it simply because of its huge price value equation. What was Nissan thinking when they designed an open glove box, anything kept inside will not only be visible, but will fall on front customers legs, with every bumps the car goes over in India and there are just too many of them. Dash mounted gear lever is quite an intelligent move as it frees a lot of floor space, which whilst Nissan has used to give a storage box, but unfortunately the quality of the same is a question mark. Well though-out regular dashboard comes with a pair of bottle-holders at either-end.

Top-end XV variant comes with a regular rotary AC controls instead of the expected climate control. No steering mounted audio controls, steering seems like a straight lift from the Micra, all these are absolute put-off for feature spoilt Indian car buyers.  It’s definitely not all negative for the Evalia, easy to read large speedometer and the digital display screen relays useful information like; real-time fuel economy and a distance-to-empty. The screen also displays images from the reversing camera and shows digital bar-type digital tachometer. Having delivered such useful features for the driver, one wonders why the steering has to obstruct the screen view at certain steering lock angle, which makes the driver go back to relying on the electrically adjustable rear-view mirrors while reversing the car.

Space in the Evalia will never be at a premium, be it for the front, middle or third row seat passenger. Boot space is the biggest surprise, which even with all seats upright can easily gobble up some serious luggage. For those still needing more space, they can easily side fold the third  row and front fold the middle row to create oodles of space. But then this is expected from a van heritage Evalia. Feeling of space is further enhanced thanks to flat front and rear floor. Rear seat passenger do get the advantage of the independently controlled AC vents. Nissan designer must have personally experienced Indian summers to have come up with this feature, which to say the least, is a necessity in a car with Evalia’s length and metal. Whilst the front seats are comfortable, middle row seats lack thigh support. Legroom, shoulder room and headroom definitely will not be a problem in the Evalia even for the third row.

Unfortunately for the Nissan Evalia, it’s bag of goodies starts and end with space. To start, the second row windows are not only small, but they also do not offer roll-down windows but instead offer a restrictive butterfly-type opening. It’s not too difficult to imagine a complaining feature spoilt Indian car buyer plonked on the row 2 of the Evalia. Third row passenger sure would get joint pains the moment middle row passenger reclines his seat's back rest to on obtuse angle instead of it being adjusted at 90 degrees. Van-like sliding rear doors in a 10 lacs car, what’s Nissan been thinking. No lever to fold the 2nd row, but outdated flimsy tags to get them down. Nissan it seems as trying hard to not let you forget the Evalia’s load carrier heritage.

Nissan Evalia - Engine

Nissan Evalia has under its hood the ubiquitous 1.5-litre Renault K9K turbo-diesel. This motor seems to have be pushed under the stubby bonnet and it does seem as if a bigger engine has been fitted in a smaller compartment.

The1.5 Ltr fixed geometry turbocharged diesel engine with intercooler delivers 84 BHP of power and 20.4 KGM of torque, which on paper at least seems inadequate. This impression could become more evident the moment it has its full complement of 7 passengers, some luggage and a running AC. However, this fact can only be established through a proper test drive.

However, basis past experience of driving the Micra, Sunny and other Renault cars with the same engine (definitely suitably modified for each car), we believe, cruising and city driving should not be too much of a problem, as all these cars disply pretty good tractability, smooth pick-up even from as low as 1000 Rpm.

The advantage of smaller engine, clever gearing and low kerb weight does help the Evalia deliver an ARAI-tested 19.3kpl fuel economy figure which, theoretically, makes it more efficient than either the Innova or the Xylo.

Nissan Evalia – Driving Dynamics

Evalia is a large car, no doubt, but its real tight turning radius makes it so easy to manoeuvre. Small 165-R14 tyres for a car of this size does not inspire hard cornering, but overall less adventurous drive would be quite comfortable. Leaf spring suspension (so visible in load carrier) is really a cost cutting measure. 

Nissan Evalia - Pricing

The Nissan Evalia is not the best-looking MPV on sale and with a starting price tag of 8.49 lacs its going to find difficult to find serious personal use buyers. Now that the pricing and features are both available for public consumption, the car does look under-featured and maybe even underpowered (with 7 passengers and load). What could go in its favour is its huge usable space which would make joint family travel so much more fun. We at www.ecardlr.com would however like to reserve our comment till a full blown test drive on this car by our experts.

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