Thursday January 23 2014

Nissan Sunny and Toyota Sprinter’s turf

The Nissan and Toyota rivarly dates back to yester years and years. The two usually make models that directly or indirectly compete with each other in different segments. Today Paul Kaganzi assesses the 2000 Nissan Sunny (ninth generation) and Toyota Sprinter (eighth generation).

The Nissan Sunny and Toyota Sprinter are two compact family cars that come from renowned pedigrees. Although these cars were first built in Japan, Nissan and Toyota later set up plants in North America, Europe, Africa and other parts of Asia to massively produce them. Nissan Sunny traces its genealogy from the 1966 Datsun 100 and the 1970-76 Datsun Sunny series B110. In Uganda, a few of us recall the famous tough sub compact hatch Datsun Sunny B210 and B211 otherwise called 120Y/B or the 160J that came onto our roads between 1973 – 1978. The B310 Datsun Sunny ushered in the era of used reconditioned cars in Uganda during the mid 1980s.

The 1990s saw the B12, 13 and 14 Datsun Sunny station wagon (estate) a reliable compact workhorse. Toyota developed the Sprinter as an up market and ‘sportier’ version of the compact Corolla in the 1960s. Each generation of the reliable and tough Corolla had a Sprinter built alongside it. In Uganda the popular Sprinter generations were the fifth E80 series 1983 Sprinter Trueno 1600 GT which came as four door sedan and five door hatchback. The sixth generation brought E90 1987 Sprinter Cielo, MX, Trueno and Carib. The seventh generation came with the Marino. These Sprinters were formidable ‘battle wagons’ known to survive the Ugandan dusty and challenging road terrain.

The 2000 model Nissan Sunny’s QG15DE and Toyota Sprinter’s 5AFE engines are small with economical engines. If you are looking for racing power you will be disappointed. These cars are meant for small young families or single people who drive to school, office or leisure. Sunny’s engine has slightly more pulling power and accelerates faster than its rival the Sprinter. However, Sprinter has better fuel consumption because it achieves peak acceleration at lower engine revolutions. It should be noted that the performance gap is narrow.

The Sunny and Sprinter have equally good response to steering because they are not heavy cars. The steering response is good while driving at slow speeds around sharp bends. The independent front suspension with struts and rear multiple links on both cars ensure that road holding on highway tarmac is good at speeds between 80-100 km per hour. Driving on up country dirt roads is bumpy and uncomfortable.

The designers of the Sunny made an effort to drop the utilitarian styling by giving it sleeker curves with a lower roof profile. Sprinter designers had sleeker earlier versions like the Cielo. Sprinter looks more sporty and attractive than the wider and shorter looking Sunny. Both cars’ interior furniture is simple but comfortable. There is quite a lot of vinyl (plastic) but the fabric upholstery is comforting enough to forget about the bare necessities offered such as electric windows, air conditioning and a radio.

The Sunny and Sprinter come with standard safety features such as seat belts all round, driver and passenger airbags and Anti-lock brakes (ABS). This makes them both reasonably safe vehicles to drive.

The Sunny and Sprinter are reliable vehicles if inherited with a good repair history and well maintained thereafter. Their double overhead camshaft (DOHC) 16 valve engines are very sensitive to good quality engine oil. Engine service parts for both cars are easy to find and are affordable. However, suspension, body and electrical parts for the Nissan are difficult to find among the new or used parts dealers. Sprinter has a better resale value because of the better parts availability.

The Nissan Sunny and Toyota Sprinter both score three points for good engine performance, good handling and safety standards. Sprinter wins the duel with another two points for better reliability and good resale value .