THIRD TIME’S A CHARM. Nissan returns to the highly competitive luxury sedan market with its third generation 2014 Teana. Renaldi Hutasoit finds out whether it has what it takes
For the third iteration of the Teana since the model’s launch in 2003, refinement is top of the list for Nissan who are clearly targeting the luxury executive transport market. And quite simply, it must be if the Teana is to be able to better compete against popular class giants such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord that have each been around for over 30 years, with at least eight past model generations assisting the evolution of the respective breeds. The first generation Teana of 2003 was a relative shot in the dark and while the second-generation 2009 car came to the ring significantly better prepared, it still fell short. Is 2014 the year that Nissan got the Teana just right?
SMOOTHLY DOES IT
To start with, seemingly flying in the face of refinement, the 2.5-liter V6 of the previous generation has been replaced by a four-cylinder QR25DE Twin-CVTC engine. A popular choice for luxury vehicles, V6 engines inherently emit less vibration than a four-cylinder, however Nissan has successfully managed to create a buttery smooth variant for the Teana with almost no noticeable vibration. The new engine is very quiet at idle, while at full chat it zings rather than buzzes like in most other four-cylinder cars (the Teana’s competitors included). Equipped with Twin CVTC (Twin Continuously Variable-valve Timing Control) for intake and exhaust, it produces 172 PS at 6,000 rpm and 234 Nm of torque at 4,400 rpm. Power is transmitted to the ground via a new Xtronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) gearbox to improve fuel and energy efficiency. The new transmission consequently operates with 40 percent less friction than the previous model. While Nissan boldly claims that the new Teana can return 13.3 km/l (a 21-percent efficiency improvement on the outgoing V6 model), during my three-day test drive in traffic-ridden Jakarta the car managed 8km/l. Though not as thrifty as claimed, still pretty respectable for a 2.5L sedan.
On the subject of performance, select the new DS mode on the shift lever and the eight-speed Xtronic CVT gearbox behaves in a close-ratio transmission fashion. The gears switch quickly and succinctly, nudging the red line and satisfyingly sounding much like a sports bike. Though aurally very exciting, real acceleration performance is only average at 10.1 seconds for a zero to 100kmh sprint. However, low-to- mid rpm pull is actually quite impressive and it is only in the higher rpm range that the acceleration falls a little flat. While there is a Sport button which, when activated, provides the driver with super-responsive throttle response and accompanying enthusiastic gearshift patterns, I feel this mode is overly brutal and just not in character with the rest of the car.
Yet as already mentioned, the keyword for the 2014 Nissan is refinement, and it delivers this in spades. Outside noise is very well damped through the use of 30 percent more sound-deadening material while chassis rigidity has also been noticeably improved. The overall feel is of a car with a very high-build quality with no creaks or squeaks to be heard during my drive. Not unsurprisingly, the suspension plays an integral role in producing this refined feel. The ZF Sachs shocks utilized are true gems, using state-of-the- art valve technology to control wheel hop and reduce harshness, resulting in reduced transmission of vibrations to the cabin.
The highlights of the interior are undeniably the front seats. Developed by Nissan with the help of NASA, these “Zero-Gravity Seats” actually lift and support your spine so to relieve pressure, improve blood flow and reduce fatigue. Something that really has to be experienced to be fully appreciated, the results are excellent. The driver seat gets eight-way adjustability with two memory settings and an auto “seat retracting” function to allow for easier car exiting and entry. The rest of the leather-upholstered interior is well designed and executed in general.
However, I do have a couple of gripes. Firstly, the multimedia controls leave plenty of room for improvement, especially compared to competitor offerings. The miniscule five-inch center screen (an improved sat-nav enabled multimedia package is available, but only overseas) and use of glossy black plastic across the dashboard look out of place on an otherwise plush interior. Secondly, the human interface would benefit from a more mainstream logic. For example, turning off the parking sensors—helpful during parking but aggravating in stop-and-go traffic—frustratingly requires the driver to go deep within the menu, while it is also only accessible when the car is at a complete standstill.
“The new engine is very quiet at idle, while at full chat it zings rather than buzzes like in most other 4-cylinder cars”
Yet otherwise, the Teana’s interior is a very comfortable place to be. Though lacking the front seat adjustability, those in the rear are also very pleasing, allowing you to sit relatively high in the back as opposed to deep down like in the Camry. If you have young children, they will be delighted to find that they can see well out of the rear window. The only caveat is that taller passengers might find the headroom in the rear a bit restrictive due to the swooping roofline. As for trunk space, the Teana boasts 516 liters of volume, right on par with the Camry. In terms of equipment specification, the list is extensive with highlights including a dual-zone automatic climate control, automatic self-leveling xenon headlamps, nine-speaker Bose Premium Audio System with Bluetooth connectivity and sunroof.
The 2014 Nissan Teana is certainly well deserving of a slice of the market share pie. Boasting the most comfortable rear seats of all its competitors, it also rewarded me with pleasant surprises behind the wheel. While I initially expected a wallowing boat of a car, what I found in the Teana was a comfortable and refined sedan with impeccable suspension control and respectable efficiency. Third time is, indeed, a charm for Nissan with the Teana.
SPECS: 2014 Nissan Teana 2.5 XV
Engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder QR25DE Twin-CVTC engine
Power: 172 PS at 6,000 rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed Xtronic CVT
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