09 July 2015

Class reinstated | 2014 Nissan Sylphy 1.8 CVT

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Words and photos by Carlo Sapera

Compact cars have changed drastically through the years. New features are added in every model change to attract buyers. Stuff like sunroof, leather seats, and power folding side mirrors were included in the list. Remember the Sentra Exalta more than a decade ago? It has changed the landscape of the compact sedan. You’ll notice that top-end compact cars come with nice toys. The Sentra Exalta brought it to the next level by stuffing well-appointed amenities. Yes, it effectively attracted many buyers

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When Nissan Philippines Inc. (NPI) took over last year, one mode they did is to replace the Mexican-made Sentra 200 with the Sylphy (and drop the Sentra moniker too). The car’s popularity faded for the past years because the previous distributor didn’t replace it with an exciting one.

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The introduction of the Thai-made Sylphy last year was timely as the segment was heating up with all-new models. Toyota Motor Philippines unveiled the all-new Altis, while Berjaya Auto Philippines bannered the all-new Mazda3. Honda and Hyundai also updated their respective compact staples.

With Nissan’s fresh Sylphy around, how does it fair with its competitors?

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Eye to eye

I felt jealous when I saw the photos of the Nissan Sylphy debut in China on the web. “We’re not getting that anyway” I told myself. Well, things changed when NPI stepped in to make the brand competitive in the country again. Seeing it first at the 2014 Philippine International Motorshow left me with good impressions. Obviously, the Sylphy’s design was a big leap from the boring Sentra 200. It has a huge body than its predecessor. The car’s classy styling is tasteful and balanced. There is no chrome overload on the exterior, making it clean and tidy. The trapezoid-shaped front grille is flanked by the bullet-shaped Xenon headlight clusters with daytime LED lights, while the tail lights reminded me much of the Lexus IS300. On the side, the creases added to the attractiveness to the car’s body without adding door strips or more chrome. It also resembles the Teana on this angle.

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The package inside

The clean look also applies in the interior. Those shiny accents on the doors, air conditioning vents, steering wheel, and dashboard were replaced with either matte silver or carbon fiber finishes. These substitutes looked better than faux wood. The cabin’s build quality is comparable with upper end cars.

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While some of its counterparts have integrated audio system, the high-end Sylphy comes with a touch screen SONY XAV infotainment system. It has a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate. On the lower left portion of the head unit are the USB/AUX ports for iPod or flash drive. I did enjoy my EDM and Ambient genres while driving, thanks to the nice speakers. The only downside is the absence of the steering wheel-mounted audio control buttons where you can adjust the volume or change tracks without moving your right hand away from the wheel. The Sylphy 1.8 also comes with “fine vision” luminescent gauges for easy reading anytime of the day.

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Also standard in our sub-1M test unit is the dual-climate air conditioning system where the driver and front passenger select or adjust their preferred cabin temperature. Rear passengers have their own share of air vents behind the center console to fan off the heat.

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The traffic in Metro Manila is bad in most days and it is important to keep yourself
comfortable while in the gridlock. I found the beige leather-wrapped seats supportive even on long drives, while leg and headroom are abundant for everyone in the car. There are huge utility pockets on the front doors where you can put items like water bottles or road maps, while the trunk is big enough to swallow a golf bag and suitcase.

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Ride and drive

Under the huge hood is the 1.8 liter engine that generates 130hp and 174 Nm of torque. It may be 10hp short than the current Honda Civic, but it still delivers a good output. It is equipped with the X-tronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) which very responsive. On city driving, the1.8 power block returned an average of 8km/l, while 11.5 km/l on highway runs. Nice figures here.
Ride-wise, the Sylphy is very comfortable on the road. The McPherson and torsion beams absorbed the bumps well. The cabin insulation is also superb, hindering the road noise from entering.

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The pocket speaks

The Nissan Sylphy 1.8 CVT is pegged at P998,000. For less than a million, you also get the engine start-stop button feature, dual airbags, anti-lock brakes with EBD, and Intelligent Key. That’s a good deal already since you are getting high-end features with a pocket-friendly price.

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I guess, the Nissan brand is back on track with the Sylphy. It is a well-rounded compact car that can strongly go head-to-head with the best sellers in the segment.
So, if you are looking for a sedan that is comfortable to drive, fuel efficient, loaded with cool toys, handsome, but not overly styled, take a look at the Nissan Sylphy 1.8 CVT. It could satisfy your criteria.

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