Nissan Motor India Pvt Ltd (NMIPL) market share today is around 2.5 percent, which isn’t a lot, but given the limited number of models (not counting the CBUs), and the short time since it commenced Indian operations, is not too bad. However, the company has aggressive plans to increase its market share with the introduction of new models in the volume segment. This is where the Evalia MPV comes in. With the Evalia, Nissan hopes to tackle the likes of the Toyota Innova, Mahindra Xylo and Maruti Ertiga for market share.
The Evalia, which is also known as the NV200 in other markets, is based on Nissan’s B-platform. The Evalia / NV200 is sold in both passenger and commercial variants in markets such as Europe. For India however, Nissan will only introduce the passenger version, while it’s likely that Ashok Leyland, with which Nissan has entered into a JV, will produce a commercial version of its own, called the Stile.
According to Nissan’s product team, the Evalia’s customer demographic is male, married with teenage or pre-teen children, who earns an annual salary of Rs 15 lakh or more. This is a fair enough description of its potential customers.
The Nissan Evalia will be available in four variants – XE, XE +, XL and XV, and while the pricing will only be announced at the launch on September 25, we expect it to range from Rs 8 – 10 lakh.
Design & Engineering
The Nissan Evalia features monocoque or unibody construction, which makes it lighter than the body-on-frame construction of its two main competitors – the Xylo and Innova. It weighs just 1426 kilograms according to Nissan, which makes it 200 kilos lighter than the Innova, and this has benefits in both performance and fuel efficiency as we’ll see later. The Evalia measures 4400x1695x1880 mm in length x with x height, which compares with the Toyota Innova’s 4580x1770x1755 mm, making the Evalia both shorter and narrower than the Innova, but quite a bit taller. Nissan claims the Evalia’s ground clearance is 180mm, which is actually slightly more than the Innova’s 176mm.
The Evalia uses McPherson strut front suspension, while at the rear, it has a leaf-spring and rigid axle layout, with oil-filled dampers. This rudimentary suspension makes it both economical to produce and very robust, but surprisingly there is no major penalty in the ride quality or handling as a result of this layout.
The diesel engine which powers the Nissan Evalia comes from Alliance partner Renault, the now-familiar 1.5-litre dCi K9K unit, which produces 85 PS and 200 Nm. While the power is slightly less than the Innova’s 102 PS (from a 2.5-litre engine), the torque rating is exactly the same. The Xylo however trounces both, with 115 PS and 260 Nm.
The Evalia’s engine is mounted transversely and powers the front wheels through a 5-speed manual gearbox, and while this layout is very different to the Innova or Xylo, it is similar to what we see in the Maruti Ertiga.
Clockwise from top left: Top-of-the-line XV variant gets reverse camera; fuel filler is unusually place near B-pillar on driver's side; large mirrors provide good rear visibility. Electric adjust standard on all variants; butterfly windows don't provide much by way of ventilation.
The Nissan Evalia isn’t a pretty car, that’s for sure, and despite the stylised front end and rakish front windows, the Evalia looks pretty much like a big box on wheels. The square rear end takes some getting used to, with the small tail lights not providing much visual relief. In that sense, the Evalia’s competition does make some concessions to style, and the boxy looks may not win the Evalia much favour. However, there are some to whom the square design does appeal with a unique character which is arguably unlike anything else on Indian roads. The abrupt rear end also helps the aerodynamic performance of the Evalia, although it will rarely get to speeds where the drag reduction will make any discernible difference.
Rear least flattering angle of Nissan Evalia.
The 14-inch wheels with their commercial vehicle tyres (165R14, 8PR) appear visually to be too small for the Evalia’s overall size, and don’t be too surprised if you see some buyers switching the wheels for a larger rim size.
Interiors & Comfort
'Greige' colour scheme on the Nissan Evalia similar to Sunny and Micra.
The interiors of any vehicle play a crucial role in enticing buyers to part with their money, and this is something that Nissan is well aware of. With the Evalia, Nissan hasn’t reset the benchmark, but it has more than matched the class standard, set by the Innova. The Evalia’s interior features a lot of plastic, but all of it feels robust and hard-wearing, very important in a family vehicle. The Nissan-favourite ‘greige’ makes its way into the Evalia too. The steering wheel of the Indian Evalia is different to the version sold in Europe, and is in fact lifted from the Micra. This sharing of parts only helps to keep costs low, but we don’t see owners complaining.
Space is one of the primary reasons people choose to buy an MPV, and the Evalia has a lot of interior room. The simple flat-sided panels mean there is lots of space inside the Nissan Evalia, despite the three rows of seats. The Evalia boasts of a commodious storage area ahead of the front passenger, but strangely is not a covered glovebox, which means whatever you choose to put in it is in plain view to prying eyes.
The dashboard-mounted gear lever does mean that a ot of space is liberated between the front seats, and Nissan’s product team have hinted that a number of accessories, including a large storage box will be offered as after-market fitment.
Nissan Evalia's third row can be accessed from either side. Second row flips and folds, while sliding doors provide easy access.
The Nissan Evalia’s second row of seats splits and folds in a 60:40 ratio, while the third row splits and folds 50:50. This provides the Evalia with a lot of flexibility in seating options and luggage capacity, depending on the type of luggage one wants to carry. Even with all three rows in place, there is enough space behind the third row for two full-size suitcases. This is where the Evalia scores over its competition, despite its relatively compact overall length.
The Evalia’s second row does not slide forward or rear however, which means that if the driver and front passenger are tall, there is a limited amount of legroom for the second row passengers. Also, the front seats sit on a box frame, which prevents the passengers at the back from sliding their feet under the front seats for extra legroom.
The third row isn’t exactly very spacious, and is comfortable for children or adults who aren’t very tall.
The suspension, despite a simple leaf spring layout, is pliant, providing decent ride quality even for third row passengers. The rear end also resists skipping over uneven surfaces or over small, sharp speed-breakers, which is a good thing.
If you like travelling with friends and family, you'll love the Nissan Evalia. Happy campers give us their best Colgate smile!
Performance & Handling
The Nissan Evalia is no sports car, so don’t expect 370Z levels of acceleration or grip from it, despite both being designed and built by the same company! The 1.5-litre dCi engine is more than up to the task of shifting the Evalia’s bulk, but performance can be best described as sedate. Nissan claims that although the Evalia’s engine gives away nearly 40 percent in cubic capacity to its competition, it is still quicker to 60 km/h. But that’s like comparing Harbhajan Singh’s pace to Piyush Chawla’s; a redundant comparison.
The steering wheel, despite being adjustable for rake, is set at an awkward angle, which feels out of place for a passenger vehicle, giving you the feeling that you’re piloting a minibus, which isn’t too far from the truth. The dashboard-mounted gear lever requires you to reach for it, unless you have long arms like an orang-utan, but after a few kilometres you get used to it. Thankfully, the gear throws are rather short, and despite feeling notchy, the Evalia shifts gears positively.
Crosswinds understandably bother the Evalia, given its tall stance and slab like profile, and the monsoon weather wasn’t really helping, but it must be said that despite the conditions, and the slightly uneven two-lane road we were on, the Evalia never once felt like things were getting out of hand. It’s a safe and predictable car to drive, albeit a little boring, but we don’t think the kind of person who buys the Evalia really cares about handling or performance.
A truly impressive facet of the Evalia, which we discovered much by chance, is that it is more than capable of tackling uneven surfaces. As you can see from these photographs, we had to take the Nissan Evalia off the main road to get some pictures, and the big MPV managed it without breaking a sweat.
Although no SUV, the Evalia can handle a dirt trail or two.
Another area where the Evalia truly scores is the ease with which we could drive it through the congested roads of Bangalore. The same slab-sidedness is suddenly your friend, allowing you to see each corner of the Evalia comfortably. The light steering, short-throw gear lever and easy clutch all make life a breeze in city traffic. This is another area where the Nissan Evalia scores over the competition.
When asked whether an automatic version of the Evalia could be offered in the future, Nissan’s product head Matsutomi Satoshi merely smiled, neither confirming nor denying that this could be a possibility.
1.5 dCi manages Evalia bulk ably. Indicated Fuel efficiency remarkable for a vehicle this size.
Efficiency is one of the buzz-words of the new Evalia, and Nissan claims that ARAI has certified the Evalia for 19.3 kilometres per litre of diesel consumed. That’s an impressive claim, and although we couldn’t do a real world test on the Evalia, we expect it to be able to manage 10 – 11 kpl in city traffic, if the real-time display is an accurate indicator.
Nissan is one of the few, if only, manufacturer in India to focus strongly on safety. The Evalia comes with ABS+EBD as standard on all four variants. The company must be truly commended for its approach in a safety-ignorant Indian market. Driver and front passenger airbags are offered on all but the base XE variant. Three-point seatbelts are offered on the third row as well, and as such we must score the Nissan Evalia very high on safety.
Multi-info display includes digital tachometer, door open warning, instantaneous fuel efficiency, distance to empty etc. Highest XV version gets colour; rest have black and white display.
So, in the overall scheme of things, how does the Nissan Evalia stack up against the competition? Well, it’s a big, spacious MPV no doubt, but you can’t help shake the feeling that by trying to be both a commercial goods carrier and a passenger vehicle, Nissan has tried to kill a bird too many with one stone. The interiors are a curious mix, with some features not befitting a passenger vehicle. Take the open glovebox for example, or the AC vent in the third row, which is only on one side. The butterfly rear windows also mean that passengers who tend to get claustrophobic will have a hard time in this car.
But the Evalia makes up for it with its flexible seating, ease of driving, strong focus on safety, and arguably better fuel efficiency. A lot depends on the pricing, however, but Nissan has hinted strongly that the ex-showroom price of the new Nissan Evalia will range between Rs 8 to 10 lakh. It will be priced at a premium compared to the Ertiga and Xylo, but should be at least a lakh rupees cheaper than the Toyota Innova. This makes it a very tempting prospect for many MPV buyers, for whom brand matters. Nissan may not be as well recognised as Toyota, but it is arguably more premium than Maruti-Suzuki or Mahindra. Of course, all this is mere speculation till Nissan announces the final prices, but there’s a good chance that the new Nissan Evalia will take a bite out of the Innova’s pie.