India has seen an average monsoon for the first six months of 2014 though on facelift front our country, world’s sixth largest auto market, is witnessing a torrential downpour. Hordes of facelift vehicles cutting across manufacturers and segments have made their way into market in this current fiscal year. Among these new propositions some have successfully registered their arrival on customers’ mind while others haven’t been able to do so. Nissan Evalia is one such proposition that failed to garner much attention with its facelift avatar as market was busy in applauding more interesting and contemporary offerings at time of its advent. Even Nissan didn’t seem to have put any special effort as we hardly remember any significant endorsement associated with launch of new Evalia. On product front new facelift Evalia comes with very subtle changes that require a hawk-eye to distinguish this newer version from outgoing model. Even by the standards of an average facelift, Evalia falls short on the criterion of noticeable alterations that are instantly recognizable by masses. Barring few cosmetic nips and tucks, new Evalia largely remains similar to its outgoing model; something that is not a very desirable trait to start with. Now what else has changed and whether these changes are good enough to get Evalia back on buying radar of much discerned Indian customers; we find out in this road-test review.
Though Nissan claims to have altered Evalia frontage and rear comprehensively, changes are not very perceptible and require a hawk-eye to distinguish new model from outgoing one. Especially in ORVM of vehicle, it is impossible to possibly spot a difference between new and old Evalia. The biggest change that is easily observable though is new V-shape grille that makes a very symmetrical design with flanking headlamps on either side of it. Bumper has been changes and the new one has wide chin with fog lamp housing. Still these are the differences that are detectable only to keen-eyed person. Side view remains unchanged with large metal slabs with sliding door arrangement. We wish Nissan had changed this door arrangement as this sliding feature cues more towards a utility vehicle than a MPV designed for personal use. Further there is no attempt to aid coherence to profile view as the design elements continue to remain at loggerheads. Front quarter view is nicely designed with tear-drop windows that offers good space feeling too though second-half of the profile is at complete dissonant with the first quarter profile.
Rear of new Evalia has got redesigned bumper too and chrome garnish on boot lid. Still the large boxy and slab-like look has remained intact though the addition of 10-spoke alloy wheels tries to whip up the overall excitement level in this facelift version.
Unlike external changes, inside cabin alterations are instantly detectable as Evalia’s cabin now comes with faux-wood finish that is indeed soothing to look at. Further the texture and grains used in the dash board now feels soft-touch in nature and exudes quality. Centre console surrounded by faux-wood is spot-on and one of the only few bits in Evalia that makes it feel like a family car rather than a vehicle more suited for commercial purpose.
Sliding doors are out of the synch with modern MPVs’ though we can’t help but sit down and take notice of their enormous practicality. Not only these make ingress-egress easy but also these sliding doors make an absolute easy access to the third bench of Evalia. Space inside is plentiful with all kinds of room available in abundance in all the tree rows. Even the third row is surprisingly roomy with adequate head room for a fully grown human being.
Driving position is absolutely a delight in Evalia as this MPV offers driver a commanding scene of the road. Downward reclined bonnet and high driver seating position come together to make Evalia a perfect driving chariot though ergonomically there are some niggles that Nissan could have come sorted with. For one, the steering wheel that is direct lift from the Micra kitty feels a bit awkward as it feels placed a bit awkwardly. Steering unit has been set a bit low and especially tall drivers will feel like swooping down on it. Centre console carries basic AC and music controls with Bluetooth option as an accessory.
Another practical addition to Evalia cabin comes in the form of roof-mounted AC for second row of seats. This feature is sure to strike a chord with customers as humongous volume of space inside the Evalia makes it nothing but mandatory for company to take stock of the rear passengers’ cooling comfort. For the reason best known to Nissan itself, this 2nd row AC was missing in its predecessor though thankfully new update has added this essential bit to Evalia cabin. Further on feedback of customers, as Nissan claims, glove box has got the welcome addition of a lid.
Boot space, in line with the Evalia’s positioning trait, is one of the strongest virtues of this MPV. Even with all three rows upfront, there is considerable space that is left in the boot. Folding the 3rd and 2nd row of seats frees up humongous amount of trunk space that can even swallow the assortments of a nearby mom and pop store. Further aiding to convenience is low loading-lip of Evalia that makes loading-unloading an absolute breeze.
There has not been even a single mechanical change that new Evalia comes equipped with as all the mechanical hardware of outgoing model has been carried over in this facelift version. And that is not something to compliant about as very frugal and fuel-efficient 1.5-litre 4-cylinder, in-line turbocharged and intercooled dCi engine continuous to power the Evalia. With a single-minded focus on efficiency don’t expect this engine to thrill you with its revving ability or strong burst of torque wave. Rather it is like an old wine that makes you swoon over its linear power delivery and mileage. Further the fact that Evalia features monocoque construction rather than other heavy-weights ladder-on-frame arrangement helps this large vehicle to do its job with smaller 1.5-litre engine.
Mated with 5-spped manual transmission, Evalia feels quite at home in city as wide spread of the torque curve that is almost straight without any steep waves help the manoeuvring in stop-start traffic. One can easily stroll around the city though nipping through the gaps requires some planning portion.
Gear shift feels a bit notchy to operate though lever falls to hand in absolute intuitive way. We wish Nissan would have spared some effort to replace the gear lever that seems to have its roots in 1970s. Shifts are not very precise and slotting is not perfect either. The only consolation comes in the form of well-spaced foot well that features adequately far placed pedals. Dead pedal provision also aids the overall convenience on highway cruising. Brakes seem to be on mediocre side and on our test car pedal wobbles and oscillates a bit though bite is well executed.
Riding on new 15” tyres, Evalia features a good ride and handling combination, especially considering the size and category it comes in. McPherson strut up front does a good job for ride comfort though old-school leafy springs at the rear spoils the party to an extent. Overall soaking ability of Evalia is on par with best and even above many other MUVs’. Steering is light, direct and precise though we would like to have some more feedback from it especially when cruising on open stretches of highways.
Further the slab-like and blocky rear makes Evalia susceptible to cross-winds effect on highway that in fact affects its straight line stability to some extent. That said, city manoeuvring is quite easy as Evalia comes with crisp turning radius and combined with light power steering, it feels absolutely easy on your biceps. Handling is also not as awful as we expected initially and to the decent speed, Evalia handles the cornering acts bravely. But then don’t ride it like a hatchback or a sedan and if you do that Evalia will quickly remind you of its MPV status.
Evalia price range starts with Rs 8.49 lakh for base variant XE that comes with standard features like ABS, EBD and BA etc. Go past four mid variants and the highest rung on Evalia ladder XV (O) model that comes packed with features retails itself at Rs 10.67 lakh. Not only this variant has the 15” alloy wheels, iKey, keyless entry, rear camera but also features chrome accented grill with beautiful faux-wooden finish for centre console. On value for money Evalia was a decent proposition though now with advent of Honda Mobilio, Nissan has lost some advantage on this front. Practically Evalia is an offering that is hard to beat. With its abundance of space, roomy-spacious cabin and efficient engine, it is hard to fault utility quotient of this Nissan. But then look closer and the weak spots start emerging that force the prospective buyer to give a second thought before taking home Evalia. The overall looks that resembles more to a taxi than to private vehicle, sliding doors further reinforcing its utilitarian image and pop-up rear windows that hamper the inside space feeling are some of the major irritant in Evalia’s overall proposition. In this facelift version none of these serious concerns has been addressed as Nissan feels content by only execution some cosmetic changes on outside and inside. It would have far better had Nissan taken out these real concerns with facelift rather than adding some chrome and wooden finish. We can live with the ordinary chrome and even with bit plain-Jane interiors but a trip to relatives with family on weekends in a MPV that slides open its doors without allowing rear windows to open up fully is a strict no. Nissan seems to have missed the important chance that could have revived the Evalia sales had these issues were sorted out.
Style & Substance 3/5 Ride & Handling 3/5
Interiors & Ergonomics: 3/5 Safety & Equipment 3/5
Power-Plant & Transmission 3/5 Fuel Efficiency 4/5
Value for Money 3/5