2013 Nissan Bluebird Sylphy S 2014

Price: $140,000

Features Overview Video
  • 1800cc Engine
  • 2WD
  • ABS (4-wheel)
  • ABS Brakes
  • Air Condition
  • AM/FM/CD Stereo
  • Audio Steering Controls
  • Dual Air Bags
  • DVD Video System
  • Fabric Interior
  • fog lights
  • Head Curtain Air Bags
  • Keyless Entry
  • Navigation System
  • Power Door Locks
  • Power Mirrors
  • Power Steering
  • Power Windows
  • TV

    The new Sylphy looks so different from its predecessor that we wouldn’t have guessed the lineage. But will it carry over the unique qualities of the G11, or are we looking at a different animal altogether? This exclusive pre-launch test drive report will answer that question, as well as provide you a fresh perspective from a Sylphy virgin, plus an idea of where the new entrant stands in a class full of talent.
    Next to the old car, the new Nissan Sylphy appears big, much larger than the raw figures suggest. At 4,615 mm, the new car is actually 50 mm shorter than before, but crucially, it’s 60 mm wider than the outgoing Sylphy, one of the narrower cars in the segment. The difference is palpable, as you’ll read about later.

    Wheelbase remains at a class-best 2,700 mm, which translates to very generous rear legroom. The latest Toyota Corolla Altis, Hyundai Elantra and Kia Cerato also have the same measurement, but the Nissan’s cabin is better packaged and is the class champ in space. There’s also a segment-leading 510-litre boot (with a full-sized spare wheel), to boot.

    Under the sloping bonnet is a new MRA8DE 1.8 litre engine with 131 PS and 174 Nm of torque, the latter achieved at a low 3,600 rpm for better drivability. Not to be confused with the older MR18DE design, the new mill features a longer stroke (90.1 vs 81.1), Twin C-VTC and a ‘diamond-like’ carbon coating for smoother operation and fuel efficiency.

    If you’re wondering, the MR20DE 2.0 litre engine in the old Sylphy made 133 PS and 191 Nm at 4,400 rpm. We know for a fact that the MRA8DE is 12% more fuel efficient than the MR18DE, so it’s safe to say that the new car’s 1.8 will be at least 12% more economical than the G11’s 2.0. The 16v DOHC engine is paired to Nissan’s Xtronic CVT gearbox, which has been updated since its last tour of duty in the G11.

    The suspension, tuned for comfort, consists of MacPherson struts up front and a rear torsion beam. Brakes are all discs, with the front units ventilated. Two trim levels will be available in Malaysia – the high VL spec comes with 17-inch wheels (with 205/50 Conti Premium Contact 2 tyres), an inch bigger than the rims on the standard E spec car (195/60 Bridgestone Ecopia EP150).

    Safety is a stand out aspect in the new Sylphy. Malaysia-bound cars are essentially Australian-spec Nissan Pulsars with a Sylphy badge, so we get six airbags and Vehicle Dynamics Control (VDC) in addition to the usual ABS, EBD and Brake Assist – all standard across the board, even for the entry model. To be sold in Australia, the Nissan has to go through ANCAP crash testing, and five stars is the outcome. Top tether points for child seat anchorage are available, however there are no ISOFIX points for the Malaysian spec car.

    It’s crystal clear from the Sylphy’s positioning, styling and priorities that it’s not a sedan for everyone. The design may be a lot more modern and a touch more dynamic than before, but there are no sporting pretensions here, as it should be. If you’re expecting driving fun above all, please look elsewhere if you haven’t already done so; for the majority of family car buyers, you might want to hang on for a bit.

    Everyone, even enthusiasts, needs a family car. Whether it’s for the kids or the daily grind, a comfortable and dependable sedan is a valuable ally. For me, none played the role better than the previous Nissan Sylphy.

    Where others accelerate, it simply glides away, and that drivetrain is so hushed that you instinctively try to find other sounds, only to find very little wind/road noise. Early cars came with an airy, light-coloured cabin, and that sofa of a rear bench encapsulates the cozy Japanese house on wheels the Sylphy was. It was nothing to look at, but the G11 had endearing qualities.

    It’s no longer so quirky, the Sylphy, but much of the good was carried over. The new drivetrain is very smooth and quiet on the move, and insulation from the outside world is better than ever. I’m a heavy user of the NKVE, and the Sylphy (most of my time was in the E spec) is fairly muted on the harsh concrete surface, more quiet than some D-segment cars even.

    The comfort agenda is reinforced by the solid ride quality, which absorbs bumps very well, but isn’t too mushy on a cruise. I’ve not tried the new Altis yet, but this is the most comfortable and relaxing C-segment sedan in the market as far as yours truly is concerned.

    Something has to give and the Sylphy must be terrible to drive, right? Not really. You’ll learn in time that the Sylphy is smooth if your approach is smooth. Ease your right foot into the throttle (as opposed to standing on it, which elicits lots of noise) and the Nissan gets up to highway speeds fairly quickly. Unspectacular bald figures aside, there’s adequate grunt and drivability is good. The level of mechanical grip is surprisingly decent as well.

    The steering is of the light and easy variety, which is apt, but it’s rather low geared. We noticed that the helm of the E spec car had slightly more weight and feel compared to the VL’s, which could be down to the wheels as both cars are mechanically identical.

    Another observation is the initial surge on acceleration, compared to the more linear approach of the old CVT. Revs also drop faster now when you back off. This could be Nissan trying to engineer in an impression of responsiveness – it’s subjective, but I prefer the gradual climb of old. Still smooth, though.

    There’s no doubt that the new interior is a more pleasant place to be in. The dashboard, while not cutting edge in design, is inoffensive and ergonomic, with a conventional layout. It’s somewhat refreshing to see a local Nissan with not one, but two rows of steering buttons (audio and cruise control, both specs), plus a tower of centre stack lights at night.

    A suitable driving position is easy to find, thanks to reach adjustable steering and a pump-style seat height adjuster. The high seating position, soft yet supportive chairs, good forward visibility and small details such as padded surfaces on the door rest (for your elbow) and centre armrest, all combine to make the Sylphy a comfortable place to be in, whether in a jam or on a long distance journey.

    The comfy interior works hand in glove with this car’s main draw – comfort and refinement – values that in the Nissan Sylphy’s case, are both enduring and endearing.

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