The small-car market is a tough battleground and Nissan was punching with one hand after replacing its successful Pulsar with the oddly-named and shaped Tiida
A quick glance through the new Nissan's specification sheet would have revealed lots of Renault in its DNA and a shape that incorporated more Megane than Murano.
The Tiida had its own platform though and came as a Hatchback or four-door sedan. The wheelbase was 65mm longer than in the Pulsar and there was more interior space. On paper, the 1.8-litre, all-alloy, double-overhead-camshaft engine with variable valve timing sounded exciting, but there the mystique ended. All that Nissan managed to extract was 95kW which it did at a lowish 5200rpm.
Series 2 Tiidas were sold here from early 2007 and were upgraded to include ABS brakes, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution. However they retained rear drums and el-cheapo tyres.
Only the Ti offered upgraded trim with leather seat bolsters and 16-inch wheels with lower-profile rubber. It also came with a body kit, six-speaker sound system and a leather-rimmed steering wheel. For similar equipment in a manual-transmission car, check out the Q six-speed which is quite scarce in the used market.
The Series 3 Tiida that appeared in 2010 brought minimal change but gave Nissan the chance to further uprate the specification of its struggling contender. Sales that initially had exceeded 12,000 annually were by 2010 below 5000 and 'value adding' was seen as the easiest way to revive buyer interest.
Early 2013 saw the Tiida experiment run its course. Nissan after six years realised that its ugly duckling would never morph into a fleet-sales swan and went back to selling Pulsars.
ON THE ROAD
The Tiida has been built in half a dozen places around the world and sold under almost as many names.
On paper, the Tiida looked to have plenty of power and features for its price segment but owners often couldn't mask their disappointment. The model's primary market then and now consists of people who want as much interior and luggage space as they can get in a compact package and more features than were typical for the price.
Well-shaped seats with lots of adjustment but with oddly-positioned adjusters look after those up front but it was in the rear where this car scored points over rivals. The extra 65mm of wheelbase was devoted almost entirely to rear legroom and while cabin width was down by 10mm on the Pulsar, the back seat would still accommodate three adults. If you needed more legroom the back seat adjusted just like the front ones.
Access to the moderate-sized luggage area was easy via the sedan's big boot-lid but wider objects needed juggling to be fed through the hatchback's fifth door. All models had full-sized spare wheels.
While not in any way a ‘driver's car’ the Tiida never totally embarrasses itself either. Tight and possibly bumpy bends show up lifeless steering and moderate grip levels but no nasty tendencies. Plunging down a long and winding descent will probably send the brake pedal soggy as the bean-counters' preference for rear drum brakes becomes apparent, but around town you won't notice.
If you're bored by the four-speed auto's bland acceleration, have a go at the six-speed manual. 0-100km/h still takes around 11 seconds but it feels faster.
Closely spaced ratios allow gears to be skipped en route to sixth, which is still low enough to deal with 60km/h traffic and not protest. Full throttle away from the lights will have the tyres scrabbling and in wet conditions some people will wish for the traction control that wasn't even offered as an option.
If you really do love your Tiida, sniff around the wreckers for a set of the taller, wider Ti wheels then team them with some good-quality 55-profile tyres and uprated shock absorbers.
In a car of this size you expect fuel consumption in the 7-8L/100km range and that's what you get from a six-speed Tiida. Around town it will most likely use 10.5L/100 but take to the highway and a steady 100km/h and consumption will drop to around 6L/100km.