Nissan Evalia India drive - we're the first to give you all the relevant details!
Finally, the Toyota Innova has a true challenger, a job for which the Mahindra Xylo, despite its excellent value proposition, was still found wanting. Yes, the Nissan Evalia is up to it, but not so much that Toyota should be worried. Because as I see it, the market is only going to grow because of the Evalia. Here then is a quick review of this people carrier from Nissan.
1. The Evalia is not that bad looking for a van, especially viewed from the profile and the front three-quarters. It is hugely slab-sided at the back, however. There is a lot of metal for your money, and if you notice it, all rear windows are pretty small. Then of course is the fact that it comes with sliding doors unlike the competition, which makes it very van-like and utilitarian. That image will be hard for Nissan to overcome. Aerodynamics have also played an important role in the way it looks.
2. What is important about the Evalia versus the competition is that it is front-wheel driven. And that is its singular redeeming feature. There are several benefits to this. It will be easy for a person to graduate to from their sedan or hatchback, but FWD also allows for excellent packaging, as it has a flat floor, with the fuel tank placed below the driver's seat.
3. What you can expect from Nissan to trumpet about the Evalia is its compact turning radius of 5.2 metres. It does make a huge difference on city streets, and as I found out on the roads of Bengaluru, it is quite manoeuvrable too, despite its bulk.
4. Speaking of which, this is how the Evalia compares to the Xylo and Innova in terms of dimensions:
Evalia LxWxB and wheelbase (in mm): 4400x1695x1880 and 2860
Innova LxWxB and wheelbase (in mm): 4580x1770x1755 and 2750
Xylo LxWxB and wheelbase (in mm): 4520x1850x1905 and 2760
5. Another aspect that differentiates the Nissan from the other two is that it is a monocoque construction. The ribbed roof also adds to its rigidity. This plus FWD allows the Evalia to offer car-like handling as compared to the Toyota and Mahindra, but handling is not THAT car-like either. It. Is. A. Big. Van.
6. Inside, you can swim in the sea of plastic, which is of acceptable rather than exceptional quality. The gear lever is mounted on the dash and that liberates space. There are enough storage spaces for all sorts of things, but what is interesting is that the glovebox does not have a lid - in any Evalia model from around the world it seems. Oh, and a big miss is the absence of a vanity mirror on the passenger side visor. As expected, there are parts which it has boorowed from its siblings; the steering wheel, for instance, is from the Micra and so are the air vents.
7. More on the inside. The middle row has good leg room but not enough shoulder room for three adults. The two seats at the back fold sideways and can be strapped up to liberate space for luggage. With all seats being used, there is still decent luggage space. The tailgate however is massive! You could house a family under it when it is open.
8. Oh, it borrows more from its siblings. The famous K9K motor is found here as well. The 1500cc turbodiesel develops 85 bhp and 20.3 kgm of torque and the gearbox is the same, but has revised gear ratios for this people carrier application. Again, expect Nissan to trumpet the fuel efficiency of this motor versus the competition.
9. The engine noise intrudes into the cabin, but that is perhaps the only major negative. Otherwise, despite the lack of cubes and horses, the engine does a decent job of pulling this van. It needs to be kept well above 1700 rpm, however, to make it driveable. There is enough torque to pull it even in fifth gear, provided you keep the revs above this limit. The steering feedback is kept to a minimum - ease of use is the overriding factor. Ride quality is quite good.
10. Overall, the Evalia is a decent people mover. It is not an exciting model, but it serves the purpose. There are other elements that it requires, like captain's seats, AC vents for the middle row and windows that open fully, but I am sure that these will eventually be included. Expect it to be competitively priced vis-a-vis the Innova, sometime in September. It is a more friendly car to drive compared to the Innova and Xylo and feels competent too. Let the battle begin!
For a comprehensive review of the Nissan Evalia look out for the September 2012 issue of BS Motoring!