Expected: in Early 2010
Estimated price: Rs 5.5 - 6.5 Lacs
The relationship between Nissan and its new Pixo is about as strong as that which exists between the average football WAG and her autobiography. The Pixo trundles to the launch pad purely because Nissan wishes to capitalise on an 11 per cent growth in the A segment, city-car market but can't afford to build its own model. And what we actually have here is an Indian-built Suzuki Alto subjected to just enough plastic surgery to seduce those whom habitually judge a book by its cover.
Climb aboard, close the door with a quality "bong", and the interior instantly gives the game away. Gone is the often quirky, occasionally clever, always well built and ergonomically sound substance we're used to from Nissan, replaced by a symphony of hastily screwed together, pocket-money-toy-quality plastics and more than a whiff of surprisingly poor packaging.
Allied to rake adjustment sufficiently minimal to merely elicit suspicions of a loose bolt somewhere, lack of reach variation to the steering leaves the driver sitting bolt upright on a seat firmer than Hattie Jacques' matron. There's no electric adjustment to the door mirrors, but the Pixo is narrow enough for those of a more simian construction to reach the toggle on the far door with ease.
Bizarrely, given the pet coffin-sized boot, the back seats offer barely adequate legroom for even someone who inherited his mother's short, fat, hairy legs to sit behind himself. Though this is a four-door car, the diminutive rear windows don't wind down, merely hinging open in the manner of a quarterlight. The rear-three-quarter visibility is poor for what purports to be a city car.
Under a rear parcel shelf narrow enough to pass muster as a javelin, the boot only boasts a 129-litre capacity, expanding to 367 litres with the back seat folded. The former, for those unused to emptying bottles of Evian into the loadspace by way of measurement, constitutes about enough space to wedge a dandie dinmont terrier with minimal oxygen requirements, carefully tucking ears and tail in before slamming the tailgate shut.
At idle, a three-cylinder, 67bhp, 1.0-litre petrol engine rocks the entire car to the gentle rhythm of a helicopter spooling up. Dispatching the 0-62mph dash in 14 seconds, the Pixo scorches off the line like a wounded bumble bee and, en route to a face-bending 96mph, sounds not unlike an over-amplified example to boot.
Once coaxed to cruising speed, the Pixo would actually make a perfectly palatable proposition were the ride not so ham-fisted, particularly astern. What passes for adequate when puttering over a respectable road surface quickly degenerates under duress into something more akin to an empty tea chest flung down a flight of stairs.
All of which somewhat hastily turns our attention to the three things on which Nissan would have us focus; fuel consumption of 64.2mpg, CO2 emissions of only 103k/km and a sub-six grand price. While it's hard to argue with the first two, one might, however, take issue with the third.
The base, Visia model may indeed clatter into showrooms with £5,995 stickered in the window (£6,905 in four-speed automatic guise), but if you yearn for such urban-essential niceties as central locking, electric windows and a 50:50 split/folding rear seat to bolster its basic, power steering, twin airbag and ABS offer, it'll cost you another £750 for another daft name – Acenta. Lob in air-conditioning, and the top-of-the-range Tekna (sigh) will set you back £7,645, the fiscal turf of some truly competent competition.
Indeed, serious concerns about the potential brand devaluation aside, it's hard to see all but base Pixo prices eliciting unfavourable comparisons with Nissan's own, entirely admirable Micra. Admitting you can't afford to build your own city car is one thing, but, if the Greek Nissan dealer who is reported to have recently said he won't be able to sell the Pixo for less than €9,000 (£7,950) is anything to go by, admitting you can't actually afford to have Suzuki build one for you either is entirely another.
|Car Body Type||Hatchback|
|0 to 60||6.00|
|0 to 100||11.00|
|Fuel Consumption Highway||18.00 kmpl.|
|Fuel Consumption City||13.00 kmpl.|
|Displacement||998cc, 3 cyl, MPFi, KB-series|
|Maximum Power||67 Bhp @ 6200 rpm|
|Maximum Torque||90 Nm @ 3500 rpm|
|Tyre Size||155/80 R13|
|Suspension||MacPherson Strut, Isolated Trailing-link|
|Turning Circle||4.50 mtrs.|
|Boot Space||129.00 ltrs.|
|Brakes||Front Ventilated, Rear Disk|
|Ground Clearance||170.00 mm|
|Kerb Weight||880.00 kgs.|