Way back in the early 2000s, Nissan was at something of a crossroads. It had shaken off the spectre of bankruptcy in the late nineties, had turned around its fortunes and was now allied to Renault, and able to share development and production of chassis and engines. The trouble was, Nissan’s model range wasn’t especially exciting and CEO Carlos Ghosn (nowadays head honcho of the entire Renault-Nissan Alliance) picked out the humble Almera hatchback as the worst offender. Binning the Almera in favour of the ground breaking Qashqai, he promised “no more boring hatchbacks.” Well, he was partly right… You see, in some markets, even though the Qashqai was storming up the sales charts, Nissan decided to quietly introduce a dull, sensible, staid family hatch for those who weren’t quite ready for a fashionable crossover. Enter the Tiida…
Although you’d assume it was based on the same chassis as the Qashqai, the Tiida is in fact based on the old Renault-Nissan B platform, which also underpinned the Renault Mégane II. It came with a choice of 1.6-litre petrol or 1.5-litre diesel engines, and either a six-speed manual or a four-speed automatic gearbox. American readers wondering what the hell a Tiida is can rest easy – you were sold the same car badged as a Versa.
You can have the Tiida as either a four-door saloon or a (marginally better looking) five-door hatchback, but in either case you’re getting something that’s basically a car-shaped box with wheels, and an almost total lack of excitement. A Tiida will go, stop and trundle around corners in a blameless, uncomplaining fashion, but it will never leave you wanting more.
Mind you, there are some good points. It will almost certainly be reliable and solid, with the 1.6-litre petrol engine probably holding a fractional reliability advantage over the 1.5-litre diesel. Then again, the diesel will easily top 50mpg in gentle daily driving, so there’s that.
The Tiida was also enormously well-equipped. At a time when rival Toyota was offering dealer-fit aftermarket Bluetooth phone kits, the Tiida came, as standard, with a properly integrated wireless phone connection, right there in the radio. Air conditioning was also standard and while the Tiida might be dull, it’s certainly spacious and comfy.
Just watch for collapsing rear shock absorbers and any noises from the bottom end of either engine may mean that the oil pump is on the way out. As they were bought mostly as family cars, check the cabins for excessive child-based wear and tear too. Check the history as well, as Tiidas are often used as taxis.
Prices are holding up, but around €7k will get you a 2009 Tiida diesel. Avoid the automatic option because it’s an old-fashioned four-speed unit.
Nissan Tiida 1.5 dCi
Engine: 1,461cc four-cylinder turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 186km/h
0-100km/h: 11.3 seconds
Fuel consumption: 5.2 litres/100km
Euro NCAP: not tested
• Reliable and roomy
• Well-equipped as standard
• Good engines to choose from
• Uninspiring driving experience
• Unattractive styling
• Likely to have been abused as a taxi
OK, so this is an excitement-free zone, what of it? The Tiida might be as boring as a librarian’s holiday slideshow, but it’s simple, reliable, roomy and frugal.