In a segment where its competitors seem to offer a knocked down product, the Sunny has stood its ground. Now, with the diesel version, Nissan has plugged a crucial gap. The diesel motor produces 84bhp and 20.4kgm of torque, making it a good 22bhp and 4kgm more than the hatchback.
The 1.5-litre K9K common-rail diesel makes this extra power because it is now intercooled. And, though the turbo is different from the one in the Micra, Nissan has stuck with a fixed geometry turbocharger instead of variable geometry.
The added power, combined with the Sunny's flyweight 1097kg kerb weight means it is a good performer. There's none of that turbo-lag that you usually get with turbo-diesel motors and power delivery is linear. The engine will rev right upto 5000rpm, but there's no point spinning it all the way there because it does its best work below 3000rpm.
Its tractable nature means you can even overtake without downshifting and that is quite something. We timed its 0-100kph at 13.7sec, which is quicker than both the Etios and the Manza diesel. The in-gear times are also quicker than the Etios and the Manza.
To accommodate the heavier engine, the front suspension has been stiffened and this has improved the way the Sunny behaves. At low speeds, it is a bit lumpy, but still far from the skittish nature of its petrol sibling, and the suspension handles bumps like a proper European saloon. Sharp bumps thump through, but everything else is dealt with with absolute ease. The electric steering has also been recalibrated and it is now weightier. The interiors are identical to the petrol, save for the rev-counter and the rear seats.
Nissan is offering the diesel only in the top-end XV and mid-level XL versions. This XV is well-equipped — it's got climate control, alloy wheels, keyless entry, electrically adjustable mirrors, steering-mounted audio controls and a decent sound system. But at ₹8.78 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) it costs a full ₹1.1 lakh more than the comparable petrol variant.
Nissan Sunny Diesel
Dimensions: 4425/1695/1505 mm
Power: 84bhp at 3750 rpm
Torque: 20.39kgm at 2000rpm
Gearbox: Five-speed manual
Tank capacity : 41 litres
Kerb weight: 1097 kgs
Cost-conscious buyers are better off with the XL model, which at ₹7.98 lakh, comes with most of the equipment you need and is bereft of the stuff that don't matter, like the keyless-go system. It combines the goodness of the petrol Sunny with the lower running costs of the diesel one.