Nissan`s 2012 update for the Sylphy has brought about more than just new bumpers and headlights. ...
|[+ click to enlarge] |
|The facelifted Sylphy has clear and noticeable improvements over the predecessor.|
|Nissan has ditched beige for a darker cabin colour. For the better, really.|
|2.0-litre MR20DE engine and X-Tronic CVT combo retains class-leading smoothness.|
The Nissan Sylphy is a very underrated car. It is certainly not the most exciting car to look at, nor does it have any fanciful equipment like its rivals to impress potential buyers. Yet, behind its mundane disposition is a car that is rather well designed with many thoughtful features to make for a pleasant ownership experience.
As a family vehicle, the Sylphy excels in delivering space and refinement. It is very much a smooth operator in comparison to most of its sportier rivals. Now four years into its product life cycle, the Sylphy recently received its customary mid-life facelift incorporating a number of notable improvements.
|Not quite the enthusiasts' choice, but the family man should give this serious thought. |
More than aesthetic touch-ups, the Sylphy's 2012 facelift also sees the introduction of a higher-specced XV variant to address criticisms of the original model's equipment deficit against class rivals. Kit count is still not class-leading, but those willing to fork out more can look forward to 16-inch alloys, keyless entry and start, steering-mounted controls, and bi-Xenon headlamps.
No changes have been made to the powertrain or transmission, not that there was any need to in the first place. The Sylphy's 2.0-litre MR20DE engine is on the low side in output against rival powertrains, but makes up for that deficit with incredible smoothness and refinement - both qualities enhanced by an excellent partnership with the Jatco-sourced X-Tronic CVT. To recap, the engine's outputs are 131hp @ 5,200rpm and 191Nm @ 4,400rpm.
Nissan utilizes its B-platform to form the Sylphy's underpinnings. It is essentially a stretched version of the Latio's platform, which explains why the Sylphy's cabin lacks shoulder room if you squeeze three at the back despite offering exceptional leg room. The chassis is independently sprung up front with MacPherson struts, while the rear makes do with a simple torsion beam setup. Braking is supplied by vented discs up front and drums behind; surprising in a day and age when even 1.6-litre cars come with all-round discs as standard.
|16-in alloys for the 2.0 XV. |
The Test Car
Our test car for this review is the top spec 2.0 XV Premium model priced at RM124,880 with insurance. The Aerokit you see in the pictures, offered free of charge to early takers, will add another RM2,500 if you check that box, and a RM380 trunk tray (not specced in the test car) is the only other item in the options list.
It is not often that a typical car review touches on the topic of tinted windows, but the V-Kool Elite film in our test car deserves special mention. This test car was loaned to us during the Super GT weekend, and despite being baked under the hot sun of Sepang for two afternoons, I had the pleasure of returning to a relatively cool cabin on both days. The film is standard in the XV variant, and a RM2,600 option in the entry-level XL. A must-have if your Sylphy spends extended time in open air parking.
|Keyless entry. |
Collecting the car from ETCM's HQ in Kuala Lumpur, it did not take long for me to notice the small but significant improvements of the Sylphy's driving experience. The first thing that caught my attention was how the steering feels pleasantly heavier than before - just by enough to inspire more confidence at the corners. This change in character is possibly explained by the bigger wheel and tyre combo of our XV-spec test car.
Indeed, corners is one area where the Sylphy rarely gets its deserved credit. While it won't outstrip a Ford Focus or a Proton Inspira at the bends, the Sylphy nevertheless changes direction with a surprising level of confidence and agility for a car built and designed with refinement as a greater priority over sportiness. It feels very progressive on fast corners, and it feeds you with a surprising amount of information as to when is a right time to back off.
|No, that's not a rear fog light there. |
While it is good to know that the Sylphy is pretty capable when pushed, bigger questions for the target buyer will revolve around matters such as ride, refinement, and practicality, and the good news is that the Sylphy delivers on all three fronts. The 16" alloys of our XV test car meant a slight reduction in comfort, but the difference was only noticeable because we were looking for it. Refinement is where the Sylphy really earns its pay. Noise suppression is excellent and will shame many cars competing in the D-segment.
Though it might lack aesthetic appeal the cabin is also extremely well-packaged. Switching from the previous beige to black also helped to deliver a better cabin ambiance and heightened sense of quality than before. The centre tunnel, which is just one big canyon of a cubby hole, proved particularly useful in swallowing house keys, parking tickets, wallets, mobile phones and a whole lot of other things. Leg room for the rear passengers in particular is excellent - almost class-leading.
|Rear passengers get very generous leg room. |
For the family buyer, there is indeed a lot to like about the Sylphy. When you have in-laws to ferry on a regular basis, you certainly can't go wrong with space and refinement. Critics will point to the Sylphy's lack of enthusiast appeal, and they are not entirely wrong, although the Sylphy's dynamic repertoire is definitely stronger than many people's estimates.
In the crowded C-segment market, the Sylphy was never the standout choice, and it is still is not despite significant improvements to the overall package. It is nevertheless a highly-recommended pick in our books simply because it does what is asked of it so well. It may not have the 'wow' factor of say, a Mazda3, but it is a very pleasant and likable car to live with on a day-to-day basis.
- Nissan Sylphy prices and specifications in Malaysia
- Nissan car prices and specifications in Malaysia