The Nissan Sylphy SSS offers more oomph and equipment
Wannabe racer PHOTO: NISSAN

Hands up those who remember the Nissan Sentra SE-R. Hmm, not that many. Probably because it was never sold in Singapore and because big engines in small cars and the Singapore COE/road tax system just don't gel. The Nissan Sentra was basically the Nissan Sylphy SSS for the Gen Y automotive enthusiast. Nissan took a run-of-the-mill Sentra (which was essentially a Sunny in Singapore) and plonked in a 2.5-litre higher output four-cylinder together with some go-faster parts and basically you got a pseudo pocket rocket.

 The Sylphy SSS is not going to be a mini GTR but for those who have never driven something more exciting than, say, a Toyota Corolla or Honda Jazz, the 190 hp, 1.6-litre turbocharged Sylphy SSS will make your lips curl upwards. And if not into a smile, at least into a knowing smirk at other road users who don't know. Oh, and for the uninitiated, SSS stand for Super Sports Sedan.

 In terms of styling, the SSS receives the typical boyracer treatment of a bootlid spoiler, sideskirts and a front chin spoiler. Larger 17-inch rims wrapped in 205/50R17 tyres provide the footwear but the SSS still looks more pretender than predator. Xenon lamps are standard and so is a stance lowered by 30 mm all around. The Sylphy isn't pretty and the dress-up bits can only help so much.

Hop inside and the cabin is standard Sylphy fare plus some niceties. There is automatic climate control, a rear view camera, integrated navigation/Bluetooth in the nine-inch touch-screen display, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, height adjustable driver seat and lots of space for four adults with ample headroom and legroom for all occupants.

On the road, though, the SSS sounds less impressive than its equipment list. There is lot more oomph than the regular car but despite touting 190 hp and 240 Nm, it just doesn't press you back into the seat under acceleration.

The reason is probably the continuously variable transmission (CVT), which takes away some of the immediacy of response.

It definitely is not lethargic but it does not feel much peppier than something with a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated engine. And because of the nature of a CVT, the revs are kept high when pressing on, and the engine note - drone is more apt - is uninspired.

Pushing the gear lever over and using the simulated six speeds makes driving more fun. Actually, a pair of paddle shifters on the steering wheel would have greatly improved the driving experience.

The same goes for the handling. Firmer suspension tuning together with the larger rim/lower profile tyres mean a sportier (read busy) ride but it doesn't really pay dividends in the handling department. Yes, there's less roll around corners and when the tarmac is smooth, the Sylphy SSS handles all right. But there is not much feel in the steering.

So what are its redeeming graces? To be frank, not many actually. But if you're in the market for a fleet, family sedan that will help rekindle the days when you had a GT wing on your bodykitted, open-pod air filter equipped Nissan Sunny, then maybe the niched-market SSS is worth looking at.

CAR INFORMATION

Nissan Sylphy 1.6 SSS DIG-T (A)

Price

:$143,300

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve DOHC Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1,618 cc

Horsepower

:

188 bhp / 5,600 rpm

Torque

:

240 Nm / 5,200 rpm

Transmission

:

MCVT (A)

Acceleration

:

8.4 sec (0-100 km/h)

Top Speed

:

205 km/h