The new Nissan Teana has less design character than the previous model, but it is now even more comfortable
Businesslike Luxury PHOTO: TORQUE

Since 2008, the Teana has been driving towkays to distraction at the expense of the popular Toyota Camry. The Nissan's advantages include a
comfy and classy cabin, a smooth and quiet ride, and surprising stylishness for a large Japanese saloon. Also, the Teana sold in Singapore was manufactured in Japan, unlike its Thai-built rivals from Toyota and Honda (Accord), which gave Nissan one more thing to shout about in the market.

With the latest Teana for Singapore imported from Nissan's factory in
Thailand, that "Made in Japan" selling point is no more. But as Toyota and Honda have already demonstrated in Asia, where the vehicle is produced is less important than how well it is put together.

In the case of the Teana, the test car we drove in California was a China-spec, China-made example with interior quality and exterior solidity comparable to the earlier "all-Japanese" model. Incidentally, the Teana is the flagship model for China's Nissan-Dongfeng joint venture, which is rumoured to be working on a stretched wheelbase version.

Immediately noticeable is the "supersized-Sylphy" styling of Nissan's new saloon. It's not ugly or anything, just less attractive and less distinctive
than before. However, upgraders (Sylphy owners, perhaps) are likely to appreciate the Teana's general appearance, and also its visible twin tailpipes (they were hidden underneath on the earlier model). The
chrome "blade" above the rear registration plinth has also become larger. More
importantly, the 516-litre boot is slightly bigger than before.

Inside the cabin, the newcomer has sacrificed some of the old one's Italianate aesthetics for improved ergonomics. The centre console, for instance, now groups the infotainment panel together with the
climate control panel, which is a more logical layout than in the previous Teana, which "parks" the two system panels separately (and stylishly). Most of the buttons and knobs have a positive action, and all the plastics are, well, not too plasticky. Livening up the dashboard is some simulated-carbon trim, which just about avoids the "tacky" tag.

The main instrument meters continue to be big and easy to read, but their arrangement has been tidied up and there's a useful multi-function display in between. Big, too, is the steering wheel, which is how a typical big boss likes it, but more importantly, it's now adjustable for reach as well as rake, whereas previously it could only be tilted up or down.

Another major upgrade is the fitment of "aluminium" paddle-shifters to override the transmission.

Said paddles are more impressive than the small pedals in the driver's footwell, which include a foot-operated parking brake carried over from the old model and shared with several other Nissans. It isn't the most elegant device in an otherwise polished driving environment. The cabin
space is good, and even though the leather seats are less sofa-soft than expected, they are relaxing enough and generously proportioned, too.

The Teana tested here is the 2.5-litre variant, which has ditched the previous V6 of the same capacity in favour of a simpler, lighter and less powerful 4-cylinder. This seems like a retrograde step, but the new
engine is pleasant, even when it’s stretched to the upper half of the tachometer range.
In fact, it's almost as sweet-revving as the superseded 6-pot motor. Furthermore, the 4-cylinder boasts noticeably stronger performance plus better fuel economy – around 2.8km further on every litre.

The car's Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT) is virtually as slick as a traditional torque-converter automatic, if you don't rush it. If you do rush the Xtronic by putting it into "Ds" mode, it tries to
impersonate a sporty gearbox by shifting up the "gears" in a strangely racy manner.

The Teana is still no sports saloon, of course. Ride comfort is clearly the priority for this natural-born cruiser which can, well, cruise all day as it pampers its passengers. Even so, this car isn't too sloppy through corners – the body control is acceptable, the grip is adequate, and
there's even some "weight" in the electric power steering.

Looks like the new Teana will continue to drive towkays to distraction at the expense of the Camry.

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This article first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Torque.


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