The Sunny is a model that gave Nissan the much-needed visibility in the Indian market. In fact, so successful was the car for Nissan that soon after the Sunny was launched, parent Renault-Nissan badge-engineered the car and named it Scala, which was projected as the upmarket alternative to its cousin. Perhaps that’s why the Scala was even launched with an automatic gearbox. But now the same box gets into the Sunny too.
And it makes sense, especially considering the fact that automatics, even in the sub-R10 lakh segment, are gradually getting popular in India. The Sunny Xtronic CVT (continuously variable transmission) is a step to tap that niche market. So, is the CVT box good enough to handle the busy and crowded roads in Indian cities?
The first difference is that the Sunny Xtronic CVT gets slightly more power—up from 99ps@6000rpm to 101ps@5600rpm. One thing to be kept in mind is that the Sunny was never really exciting to drive; the CVT too maintains that easy-going nature of the car. It’s just that the Sunny CVT feels more comfortable while driving within city limits. Power is available as soon as you tap the throttle pedal and the car marches ahead in a linear fashion—without the driver even feeling when the box is changing gears. This is impressive. What is not impressive is the car’s outright performance on the highway. Step up the gas, push the motor to around the 5500rpm mark, and the engine starts to feel strained. Although the engine growls, the car just doesn’t accelerate at the speed you would expect it to. The CVT comes with a very light steering wheel, which, again, is suited for driving within the city; for instance, despite being a long car, it can be easily parked in some of the tightest parking slots.
Now, the general impression is that an automatic gearbox and good fuel economy don’t go hand-in-hand. But with the advancement of technology, things are changing. Remember, the Fiesta automatic is a more fuel-efficient car than the Fiesta manual. Nissan lays a similar claim—that the fourth-generation CVT technology ensures that the Sunny CVT, despite being heavier by around 20 kg, returns 17.97 kmpl (ARAI-certified), more than the manual Sunny that returns 16.95 kmpl.
The Sunny CVT makes a good case for itself—it offers ease of driving, comes with decent features and huge space, and has good fuel economy. So what if it is a bit noisy and feels slow at higher engine speeds! And at R8.49 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi, it is half a lakh rupee cheaper than the Scala automatic, which is essentially the same car.