Nissan Sunny 2024 road test: Go-kart handling on UAE's quintessential city car

Crowd-pleasing compact now in its 60th year shows no signs of slowing down

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Any car that makes it through to its 60th birthday must be doing something right. The Nissan Sunny can claim these bragging rights and, to celebrate its anniversary, the car had a full upgrade and a worldwide relaunch this year.

There were plenty of customers in the Middle East happy about that as, along with its beefy sibling the Patrol, this compact sedan is one of the region’s bestselling vehicles.

The latest model, which made its initial touchdown in the UAE earlier this year, doesn’t appear radically different to its predecessor, but Nissan has introduced a range of both aesthetic and technological improvements.

What does all this mean for the overall driving experience? Well, the first thing you notice when you get a Sunny out and about is how responsive it is.

No change there from previous models, admittedly, but the 2024 version definitely seems sharper than its predecessors.

It has go-kart handling. You can get round corners in a neat and efficient manner and, because the car is so light, getting a bit of speed up when you’re exiting a bend is not an issue, either. The experience inside the cabin is also distinctly calming for a smaller car.

While the Sunny cannot boast the serene driving sensations that come with more high-end sedans, it is no way manic in there, even at higher speeds. It’s front-wheel-drive as well, which means it’ll be OK in harsher weather.

That said, you may not want to be driving it into floodwater should the rains come again. You'd be better off with your hefty 4x4 for that.

Frankly, the 2024 model is a lot of fun to drive and (whisper it) rather better than a lot of its pricier rivals.

Much of the car’s popularity stems from the fact that it is a budget option, but, behind the wheel, it really doesn’t feel like anything of the sort.

It is often obvious why certain motors are inexpensive. However, with a Sunny, you do seem to get a lot of kit for the price.

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

The latest model comes in five trim lines, these being the S, SV, SV+, SL and SL+ – in ascending order of poshness.

A fully spruced up Sunny is Dh20,000 more than the base model, but you end up with a car that has everything you need for a comfortable motoring experience.

The 7-inch touchscreens in the higher end versions are as good as any, and the wireless charger, six-speaker audio system, leather seating and rear spoiler all give the impression you’re in a decent quality ride.

It’s comfortable, too. You can fit five people in there, although you probably wouldn’t want to go too far with three in the back, unless your passengers are on the small side.

The Nissan Sunny is aptly named. It has cheerfulness coming out of its very DNA. The brand’s loyal customers won’t need to be reminded of that to keep them interested, though.

Updated: June 11, 2024, 9:21 AM
The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now