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Launch Story

27 Jan 2006

SEX sells, or that is what Nissan is hoping with its new Pulsar replacement, the Tiida.

To push the new name, and new car, into the public consciousness, Nissan Australia has enlisted the help of former Sex in the City star Kim Cattrall, in a sassy series of television ads.

Nissan has used the TV star, for an undisclosed price, in three television advertisements, in part to help explain the odd pronouncation of the new name – pronounced tee-da – to Australians who have grown up with the Pulsar name for the past 25 years.

Nissan Australia has been forced to adopt the global name for the car, even though it is known in the US as Versa. Privately some executives still think there is some currency in the Pulsar name.

Nissan dealers, many concerned about the loss of the Pulsar name, had been involved in “passionate discussions” with headquarters over the Tiida name.

However, Nissan Australia managing director and chief executive officer, Shinya Hanya, said buyers would welcome the name change because the new car was so different to the Pulsar.

“It is a completely new car,” he said.

Mr Hanya said the Pulsar in Japan, where it was known as the Sunny, was a much older name but the vastly improved car warranted a name change.

“We’ve also replaced the Cedric and Gloria names, which were both very old, with Fuga,” Mr Hanya said.

Mr Hanya also said he expected the hatch, which will now come from Japan, to sell in greater numbers compared to the European-sourced Pulsar hatch.

The Euro hatch Pulsar was expensive and there had been issues with sourcing the car, he said.

With the old car, hatches made up far less than 10 per cent of overall Pulsar sales.

Although the Pulsar name is gone, the model variant names – ST, ST-L, Q and Ti – carry over.

The Tiida will come in four models, the entry ST sedan and hatch, ST-L sedan and hatch, Q hatch and Ti.

All will be powered by a new 16-valve 1.8-litre four cylinder developed in conjunction with Nissan’s alliance partner, Renault, with continuous valve timing control (C-VTC) mated to what Nissan claims is a first in-class six-speed manual. A four-speed automatic is a $2000 option.

Nissan Australia’s product marketing manager, Michael Hayes, said a continuously variable automatic transmission, available in other countries, was ruled out locally on cost grounds.

The 1.8 develops 93kW at 5200rpm and 174Nm at 4800rpm. Fuel consumption is 7.6L/100km combined for the manual.

The car’s suspension is reasonably low-tech, with MacPherson front struts and an H-shaped torsion beam rear system that incorporates internal rebound springs and what Nissan calls “ripplie-control” shock absorbers from the Z sportscar.

Steering is rack and pinion with electric power assistance.

At $19,990, the ST is reasonably well equipped with dual airbags, front seatbelt pre-tensioners, air-conditioning, keyless entry with remote central locking, four-speaker in-dash CD stereo, power mirrors, intermittent windscreen wipers and 15-inch steel wheels. The ST hatch also has a 60/40 split rear seat.

A “style” pack, featuring 15-inch alloys, electric windows, upgraded trim is available on the ST for $1000.

Moving up-market, the ST-L hatch and sedan receive additional features including curtain airbags, ABS with brake assist and EBD, rear headrests, electric windows, 15-inch alloys and Tricot seat trim.

The top-of-the-range Q hatch and Ti sedan add leather steering wheel, leather/cloth blend seat trim, polished metallic trim, front and rear armrests, overhead console, six-speaker in-dash CD stereo, front map lights and passenger vanity mirror.

The sporty Q also receives fog lights, rear spoiler and a sliding rear seat while the Ti sedan gains a 60/40 split fold rear seat with boot access.

The Tiida is built on Nissan/Renault’s “B” platform architecture, which has also spawned the Nissan Note, Renault Modus and Clio.

As a result, both the sedan and hatch offer an airy interior approaching a mid-size car.

Nissan says the Tiida offers occupant comfort and roominess associated with cars twice its size.

The sedan’s boot, for example, is just 9 litres shy of the boot space in the larger Maxima V6. The Tiida’s boot holds 467 litres.

Visually the hatch and sedan feature an almost Renault Megane front end, with large headlights, signature Nissan grille and large tail-lights.

Nissan claims best-in-class aerodynamics with a 0.29 drag coefficient and zero body lift at the front.

The Tiida is substantially bigger in most dimensions except width than the Pulsar, with a 65mm longer wheelbase, at 2600mm, and wider front and rear track.

The hatch is 8mm longer while the sedan is 140mm longer and both variants benefit from a almost 90mm higher roof line, which translates into vastly better front and rear headroom.

Since the Pulsar was introduced in Australia in 1980, Nissan has sold more than 385,000.

At its peak in 2001 Nissan sold about 20,000, with the $19,990 price-point a strong lure for rental fleet and private buyers.

Mr Hayes said the company would not chase rental fleets with the new car and hoped to lure more private buyers away from competitor brands.

Nissan expects 55 per cent of buyers to opt for the hatch and 45 per cent the sedan.

It is forecasting sales of 1500 a month with the ST and ST-L being the volume sellers.

The car goes on sale next week.

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