The Nissan Teana has been around for quite a while, having been brought in as an imported model from 2007, probably in a transitional phase to get the market acquainted with this model as the Cefiro was set to be discontinued.
It wasn’t until 2010 when it was locally assembled that the Teana took off as a serious challenger to its two main rivals in the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.
As the Teana enters its latest generation status, the Nissan flagship sedan in Malaysia is set to continue its strong run despite the entry of more rivals from Europe, such as the Volkswagen Passat.
It may sit on the same platform as the previous model but the body was brushed up to portray a new look, with some changes in the dimensions to optimise interior space.
The body is longer by 35mm at 4,885mm, wider by 45mm at 1,530mm and marginally taller by 5mm at 1,485mm, while the wheelbase stays constant at 2,775mm.
Available variants for our media test drive last week were the 2.5-litre 2.5XV and the 2.0-litre 2.0XL.
A major change is in the 2.5-litre Teana that now comes with a new four-cylinder engine with twin CVTC (continuously variable-valve timing control) in place of the V6 in the previous model.
The power output is lower at 173PS against 182PS previously but the torque produced is higher at 234Nm from 228Nm. The maximum torque also peaks earlier as well at 4,000rpm (4,400rpm for the previous V6).
There is no change for the 2.0-litre engine with single CVTC being a carry over from the previous generation unit; power-wise, it stays relevant and competitive with 136PS and 190Nm of torque.
What is new to both Teana models is the ‘next generation’ XTRONIC CVT (continuously variable transmission), for which 70% of the components were redesigned to reduce internal friction.
The advantage of a CVT is its ability to deliver better fuel mileage in urban driving and the new XTRONIC CVT is said to offer even better mileage along with more positive acceleration and improved durability against a conventional automatic transmission.
Based on Nissan’s internal test data, the new Teana 2.0-litre can deliver a combined mileage of 13.5km/l and the Teana 2.5-litre will return 13.3km/l.
Significant changes were also made to its rear suspension and dynamic control systems to improve the car’s ride and handling performance as well as regaining car control on adverse road surfaces.
The rear multi-link suspension is of a similar design over the old but a lower system is designed (that means the various suspension components are now mounted lower and in a more compact way) to enhance ride, stability and road traction.
The steering system is now electrically assisted: it is not fully electric like those used in some new cars but it remains a hydraulic system with electrical assistance at parking speeds.
Improved dynamic car control is provided in the Active Under-steer Control (AUC): using the VDC (vehicle dynamic control) and TCS (traction control system), it uses ‘intelligent’ control logic and the high-response brake system to bring the vehicle under control should the car tend to veer off the road due to poor surface quality – slippery, wet or sandy – when taking corners.
Other areas improved on is a quieter interior with new engine and exhaust mounts to reduce noise and vibration; improved body rigidity and the greater use of noise absorption materials (up by 30% over the previous Teana) in the roof trim, instrument panel, floor mats, among other cabin areas.
Edaran Tan Chong Motor also emphasised that the new Teana now comes with six airbags for both models.
A 200km drive from Desa Park City to Tanjung Malim and back, taking in highways and secondary roads through Felda settlements was organised for the media to get a driving impression of the new Teana.
We started with the 2.0XL before moving onto the 2.5XV.
For a start, the ‘Zero-Gravity Inspired’ seat design felt pretty good, giving us the support in the back and thighs to drive without fatigue.
Secondly, the new instrument panel with a small graphic display screen between the two principal meters is a refreshing change from the overlapping design in the previous model.
Thirdly, the central dash area is now integrated, merging the larger multi-info display screen with the radio and air-conditioner control area: we prefer the previous styling that separates them.
The new Teana 2.0XL displayed good pace on the highway, taking us up to high speeds quick enough when we had the open roads to do so (engine speed was about 4,500rpm).
The Teana 2.5XV was not short on expectations either although it achieved about the same at a lower engine speed.
There was a similarity in engine noise as both are four-cylinder units, especially when we floored the accelerator to pick up speed.
The deep V6 growl is gone and in its place was a busier and sharper engine whine as the tachometer needle swept towards 5,000rpm.
The Teana 2.5XV has shed quite a bit of weight with the lighter four-cylinder engine at 1,517kg (against 1,540kg for the previous V6 model).
This has given it a better power-to-weight ratio that compensated well for the slightly lower engine output.
On the winding secondary roads in the Felda settlements, the Sport mode proved its usefulness.
Doing so kept the engine speed from 3,500 to 4,000 rpm, which is the area at which maximum or near-maximum torque is delivered: the strong pulling power gave us the added traction to take the new Teana through corners confidently.
The only setback to doing that is that more fuel is burnt when running the engine at higher revs: by disengaging Sport mode, engine speed fell to about 2,000-2,500rpm.
At higher speeds, the steering is hydraulically activated and this has given good direction feel for driving quickly through winding stretches.
The anti-roll bars also did their job well keeping a near even-keel for the body when the car was taken through bends.
As for the AUC, we had a feel of its dynamic workings at a carpark with a section made artificially wet.
The routine was to drive to a point, turn the steering wheel hard in a 90-degree righthand turn and lift our leg off the accelerator pedal.
We were doing about 60kph at that point, fast enough for the left front wheel to dig in hard, leaving the car wanting to veer to the left.
However, we could feel the car’s AUC ‘control centre’ correcting the yaw rate through working the brakes and regaining poise for us to steer the car into another 90-degree ‘corner’ albeit at reduced speed.
The key word here is ‘control’ and we had three ‘laps’ to feel this dynamic aspect.
Of course, speed is another factor as some of the media group discovered by having the car spin around, hit cones or go off ‘track’ by going too fast.
The Teana’s comfort factor was clearly enjoyed during our drive on the secondary roads as the suspension was tuned equally well for an appreciable ride.
It had the capacity to absorb the harshness of road impacts well and we believed the ‘Zero Gravity-inspired’ seats might have a role too in isolating us from the jolts.
Booking is open for the new Teana, which is slated for launch next month.