The Nissan Man Can | Nissan Sylphy SSS DIG-T

BY Azfar Hashim

Nissan has decided to add some fun into their otherwise humdrum Sylphy family men mobile – but is it just a vain effort?

Photos by Azfar Hashim

GT-R and 370Z. Two really significant Nissan models that rock boyracers who love all things Japanese. The GT-R was brilliant; it had more balls than me. The 370Z was equally brilliant; 350 bhp, rear-wheel drive, woahhh.

The Sylhpy though… Well, to be honest it's a decent family car. Problem is, it has no character; and quite frankly, the German Jetta overshadowed it.

But then again, it still has its core fanbase. They’re the sort who wants a car that will last the entire COE lifespan. They’re the sort who just drive from point A to point B. They’re the sort who pay their bills on time. They’re the sort who wear short-sleeved shirt with a tie.

They don’t care how many horsepower lies under the car. They’re more concerned about fuel economy. “Can the cabin fit three at the rear? Is the boot big? Got ABS? Got airbag?” They’re the sort who look towards Toyota with the Altis when looking for a reliable, fuss-free family sedan. Basically, they’re the motoring majority.

Which was why I was excited much when one fine day, an e-mail invitation to spend a weekend with the turbocharged Sylphy SSS ended up in my inbox. And I am not being sarcastic here. Think about it – when was the last time Nissan has something to really offer the masses? The expensive GT-R: drove that, if my memory serves me right, 85 years ago. Then the I-could-buy-a-3-Series-Coupe-for-this-money 370Z: also drove that about the same time. Oh, the turbo’d Juke was memorable too. But (a) being the butt of all jokes, (b) the smallish boot and (c) messy interior told me to be practical.

Back to the Sylphy SSS. It’s turbocharged. There’s 190 bhp and 240 Nm of torque. 0-100 km/h in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 205 km/h.

But it weighs 1,360 kg. And it runs only with a CVT ‘box; no manual option at all. At this point, the ‘+/-‘ bit on the gear shifter looks like a consolation. I felt like a little child being given a lollipop to shut up.

So there I was, being the most objective gentleman, in the driver’s seat. Initial impression though, is positive. This Sylphy SSS is rather light-footed, in a sense that you don’t have to prod the accelerator hard just to get it going. The steering is perfect for our traffic-laden roads; a cinch for quick lane changes.

Even the interior is perfectly simple. Nissan didn’t try to impress with a fanciful, lots-of-confusing-God-help-me-buttons type of dashboard; climate control here, touchscreen multimedia head-unit there… Life is good. Perhaps the fanciest item you could find is the engine start/stop button. Oh, keyless entry is standard for the Sylphy SSS too. And all these things are highly appreciated; it’s a return to no-fuss simplicity, which is useful especially when you are driving and suddenly decide to increase the fan speed. You don’t need a month to orientate yourself.

The cockpit, while not exactly BMW’s style of facing everything towards the driver, is a pleasant place to be in. The speedo and tachometer are clearly laid out, the leather-wrapped steering wheel - with convenient controls - is nice to touch you’d want to hug it to sleep and the seat, my word, are one of the most comfortable ever. Even more than the Altis; and Jetta since we’re at it.

The rear is where the Sylphy SSS continues to shine. There is so much leg space you could have a pyjamas party with the kids back there. While there’s a hump - transmission tunnel - at the centre, an adult could still be placed there without having to feel any single sense of discomfort. I even tried putting a fourth passenger, and there still wasn’t a single complaint. Brilliant. By the way, the seats are equally comfortable as the front two’s.

Straight-line performance is brisk and unthwarted, and the car feels willing across the entire range. Egad, it was willing to even hike all the way to its 6,500 rpm redline. Out on the expressway, the Sylphy SSS could hold its own even as tailgating twats were egging on, not expecting this car to fly forward. If you’re expecting uncle-like, Sunny sort of performance, this car is the complete opposite. There’s life.

Handling wise, it will never be as sharp as a Jetta, but the 205/50 R-17 ContiPremiumContact 2 rubbers do provide a good level of surefootedness to complete the chassis. The body rolls, that’s for sure – but in a positive way, it tells you exactly when you are reaching its limit before the traction control eventually kicks in. Anchors are very responsive and good too.

So at the end of the day, where does the turbocharged Sylphy stand? On it’s own really. It has more powaaah than a Jetta, more legroom than the Altis and surprisingly, provides more comfort and refinement than the other two, combined.

No surprise then, as to why the local dealer is enjoying healthy sales for this model.

Oh, and nice rims too.