Nissan TIIDA Q

A recent price drop - but is it cheap enough?

Words by Michael Knowling, Pix by Julian Edgar

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At a glance...

  • Expensive
  • Only a lap centre rear belt
  • Spacious cabin
  • Q model has a sliding rear seat
  • Excellent ride

AUD$26,490 is a lot of money for an automatic 1.8-litre hatch with a middle-of-the-road equipment list. Especially when it’s a Nissan. But does the sports/luxury version of the new Nissan hatch – the Tiida Q – have the ingredients to justify its cost?

We don’t think so.

Unfortunately, there are too many holes in the package. There are low-tech drum brakes at the rear. The lack of a proper lap/sash center rear seatbelt is abysmal. Equipment levels don’t match the price and build quality is so-so. And frankly, there’s nothing special about it – with two exceptions...

First, the Tiida Q is very roomy and adaptable. Unlike other models in the range, its rear seat slides fore-aft (using levers at the front or rear of the lower cushion) which is handy for tailoring the amount of space allocated to rear passengers and cargo. Slide the seat fully back and there’s comparable legroom to a Statesman or Fairlane... The 60:40 split rear backrest is also multi-position adjustable for angle.

Another big positive is the Tiida’s ride quality. It is capable of covering urban, city and highway kilometres with excellent bump absorption and almost zero harshness. Few hatches ride as well as this.

But the problem is you can enjoy the same high-quality ride in a base-spec Tiida which costs AUD$4500 less (in auto guise). The Q model is very difficult to justify given it uses the same engine/driveline, suspension, brakes and steering...

The Tiida is an easy and comfortable car to drive. There’s strong low rpm and light-throttle performance, the steering is light and visibility is refreshingly good (the Tiida has relatively thin A-pillars which are augmented by vertical supports). Our test car was equipped with an optional four-speed automatic trans which performed well despite having an old-fashioned overdrive button.

All Tiidas come powered by a 1.8-litre four-cylinder which uses a DOHC, 16-valve head, variable inlet cam timing and electronic throttle control. Output is average in the class with 93kW and 174Nm. It’s a responsive engine which gives the Tiida plenty of performance in normal driving - but floor the accelerator and you’ll find there isn’t much more to give. Engine noise is also intrusive under load.

Fuel consumption is listed at 7.8 litres per 100km in the Tiida auto (according to ADR 81/01 data). That’s 0.2 litre thirstier than the manual version but it’s pretty competitive with other 1.8-litre hatches. Fuel tank capacity is 52 litres – pretty big for a car of this type.

The MacPherson front and torsion beam rear suspension provides an excellent ride together with safe, predictable handling. Expect understeer when driving fast but it is possible to induce some turn-in oversteer. Grip levels are modest using Toyo 185/65 15 tyres. The lightly weighted steering is precise but it can be caught out with quick driver inputs. In these situations, the steering weight increases dramatically – we can only guess the power assistance system is inadequate. The brakes perform fine and ABS is fitted as standard in the Q. Its rear drum brakes are clearly a cost-cutting exercise.

Inside, the Tiida offers plenty of head and legroom for people over 185cm tall. But the same can’t be said of the cabin width – shoulder-to-shoulder space is noticeably tighter than you’ll find in some rivals. The Q’s trick sliding rear seat can be useful for increasing the load area but it’s not particularly clever when you need to accommodate something that’s genuinely heavy and bulky. In this situation, the 60:40 split rear backrest can be folded forward but the expanded cargo floor is stepped. There’s also minimal load space across the base of the hatch opening.

The AUD$4500 extra that you pay for the Q model brings the sliding rear seat, premium trim (which isn’t as luxurious as it sounds), a leather wheel, six speaker audio system and LED map lights. All models score power windows, air conditioning and a centre front armrest. Interestingly, the front seats use inboard adjustment levers which free up space for large door pockets and cup holders. There’s another two cup holders in the centre of the console and the capacity of the glovebox is gargantuan.

You don’t get climate control, electric seat adjustment, a driver’s vanity mirror, cruise control or even a trip computer. And don’t bother looking for a coolant temperature gauge because there’s only a warning light. But even more abysmal is the non-retractable lap rear seatbelt – where is the lap/sash belt which is now virtually standard in cars of any price?

It’s a similar story on the outside. The Tiida Q has all the same panels as lesser models except it’s dressed up with fog lights, a rear spoiler and 15 inch alloy wheels. Build quality looks fine on the surface but our test car had poor welding around the door frames, flimsy trim around the taillights (accessible when the hatch is lifted) and cheap looking interior plastics that scratch easily.

At the Tiida’s base price of AUD$19,990 (for the manual) we’d be prepared to forgive some of the car’s shortcomings – though not the centre rear seatbelt. At AUD$26,490 we’d look elsewhere.

The Tiida Q was provided for this test by Nissan Australia.

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