If there’s one thing you can say about Nissan cars, having owned a few in the past, they’re rock-solid in terms of reliability. It’s a known fact that the old Nissan Sunny frequently outlives its owners, and if you see a young person driving one, you can bet your bottom dollar it used to belong to his or her granddad. It’s the car that simply refuses to die.
But is that all one can say about Nissan’s passenger cars? That they’re ‘reliable’? In this day and age that sounds a tad drab if you ask me, so forgetting for a second the monsters Nissan’s garage like the 370Z and GT-R, and taking into account only the more ‘regular’ models like the Latio, Sylphy and Almera, let’s take a gander at the new Teana, and why you should consider this model as an alternative to something else in the D-Segment, within this price range.
Toyota has its Lexus, Honda has its Acura, and it’s a well-known fact that Infiniti is the luxury arm of Nissan. Sometime back whilst reviewing the new Camry, I ruffled a few feathers when I likened the top-spec Camry to a Lexus – for the record I still think it was a fair comparison, and I never said it was exactly like a Lexus, but close enough – and I’m going to do it again. You see the thing with having a luxury arm of a particular brand, is that some of it is bound to wash-off on the other models too, and that seems to have happened with the new Teana.
First off though, its looks. Okay, so maybe that coffee-table sized chromed front grille may not sit too well with some, but I have to say, overall the design of the new Teana is quite appealing. Look closely and you’ll notice a very familiar ‘Infiniti-like’ upswept front fender flares, which swoop downward through the doors and tapers-off at the rear. Auto-levelling arrow-head front headlights blend seamlessly into the body, its design cleverly reversed for the rear lights, which makes the car look a lot more upmarket and contemporary if compared to the previous generation (below).
From any angle, the Teana exudes a very ‘swept-back’ look, and while sportiness was probably not a requisite given to the design department when designing this car, it does come off as a rather bold and aggressive design. This is both good and bad actually; good for those who want a touch of pizzazz in their daily ride, not so good for those seeking something a bit more traditional.
However, it’s the interior of the Teana that really impresses. First-off, a lot of thought has been given to something we pretty much take for granted these days, the driver’s seat. It’s called ‘Zero-Gravity’, and while it doesn’t exactly make you feel weightless, what it’s been designed to do is not just provide support in all the required areas, it also distributes weight on pressure points. This results in one of the most comfortable and relaxed driving positions in any car within this category. More on this later.
While audiophiles will be treated to a 9-speaker BOSE sound system (2.5XV only), buyers will be pleased to know that all variants – there are three variants in total – come with 6-airbags, Vehicle Dynamic Control, Anti-lock Brakes, Traction Control, Electronic Brakeforce Distribution, Brake Assist, Hill-Start Assist and Active Understeer Control. Kudos to ETCM for taking a stand to make sure the Teana has all the active and passive safety boxes ticked.
In terms of engines, the Teana comes with a choice of either a 2.0- or 2.5-litre DOHC 16-valve, in-line four-pot with CVTC, but both variants are mated to a new generation XTronic CVT transmission. Apart from the 2.5 XV’s additional power over the 2.0 (173Ps vs 136Ps) and torque (234Nm vs 190Nm) it also comes shod with 17-inch alloys all-round, as opposed to 16’s on the 2.0XL and XE, and that folks made all the difference in the world.
Ride and handling wise, there is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the Teana’s suspension system with Multi-Links in the rear, is tuned with ride comfort in mind. That’s perfectly fine actually; absolutely nothing wrong with that, given what this car was created to do. However, it has to be said that the versions running on the 16-inch alloys and 60-series tyres are way too softly sprung, to the point where the car actually bottomed-out while going over a speed-hump just a little bit too fast.
It’s actually quite remarkable the difference an inch-up and a tyre aspect ratio of 0.5 makes. The 2.5XV which runs on 17-inch alloys and 55-series rubber returns a much better ride and handling feel. The car feels a lot more sure-footed around bends too, exhibiting a lot less wallow and body-roll.
But then again let’s dial back a bit; one has to remember where this car resides. Customers for the Teana will be looking for maximum comfort and as much opulence in a daily drive that one can dial into a D-segment car like this, and in that respect, the new Teana delivers in spades.
I recall before we set off on the drive, I asked my co-driver why he turned on the air-conditioning before even starting the car, to which he replied “It is on”. That’s probably the best accolade to describe the sheer quietness of the Teana’s engine; you will not be able to tell the car’s already running. It also brought back memories of the old Cefiro and its infamous ‘glass of wine on engine’ party trick. Well, that’s trickled down to the Teana too.
On the inside once we got moving, it’s quite astonishing just how far the goal-posts have moved insofar as NVH is concerned. The Teana simply saunters along with barely a whisper permeating the cabin, and save for a slight rumble of tyre noise, it’s exactly how you’d expect a luxury D-seg in this bracket to behave. Quiet, comfortable and ergonomically spot-on in terms of driving position, it’s perhaps only the somewhat vague electro-hydraulic power steering that could use a tweak, insofar as providing feedback is concerned.
Space wise, there’s nothing to want for. The Teana is a very large sedan, and even with my seat all the way back – I actually didn’t need to have it all the way back in order to drive – legroom in the rear was more than impressive. What’s doubly impressive is the fact that the car also has an absolutely cavernous boot, in addition all that interior space.
Out on the highway, the Teana is in its prime element, and this is where it impresses the most. The aforementioned low levels of NVH coupled with the seamless arc of acceleration enabled by the XTronic CVT will soon see the car in triple digit speeds. The lack of noise intrusion makes illegal speeds seem very legal.
The only time the Teana feels out of its element is when it’s being manhandled around some twisty back road. Here’s where the size of the car and its comfort-tuned suspension becomes its Achilles heel. It’s the only time the Teana feels a tad cumbersome to drive, and while it does a very good job soaking up surface irregularities, mid-corner undulations are particularly despised. It’s also where the aforementioned benefits of 17-inch alloys and 55-series tyres can be felt the most, returning an ever-so-slightly more assured feel around bends.
But then again, tearing up a B-road was not what this car was created for, and never was. If anything, it’s the consummate highway cruiser. If long-distance road trips are part and parcel of your car ownership experience, in addition to the daily commute, this car delivers the goods. Since the drive, no less than five have asked me what I think of the new Teana, and I’ll end this review with what I’ve been telling them, ‘given what it was created to do, and the purpose it’s meant to serve, it’s a damn fine car’. I think that sums-up the new Teana quite nicely.