|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
From the outside, the Nissan Teana carries a very conservative stance. It doesn’t have the same angular or swoopy flair as its competitors, so most of the time it’s commonly misconstrued as “old”. However, show the Teana to a fifty-something or sixty-something top-level executive (the intended market anyhow), and he will simply revel at the Teana’s shape. More than once, the Teana was called very “French” in its design and this is perhaps down to its long hood, curvy roofline, and long trunk proportions. Enhancing the formality of the Teana’s design is the 17-inch 9-spoke alloy wheels at each corner and the multitude of chrome moldings running through the entire length of the car. Plus, the Teana looks very upscale in the optional White Pearl color although the body kit does look chintzy.
Classified as a full-sized sedan as opposed to its competitor’s mid-size designation, the first thing you’ll notice about the Teana is how large it is. With an overall length of 4,850 mm and a wheelbase of 2,775 mm, the Teana is quite challenging to park into small spaces (especially condominiums), but it does lend the Teana a very large, very airy cabin. Like what its exterior suggests, the Teana’s interior looks quite conservative; and in fact, “staid” for some, but the light hues gets a resounding thumbs up again from top-level executives.
With the exception of the instrument surrounds and the audio system, there’s almost no black in the Teana’s interior. This will undoubtedly be a pain to clean, but it gives the Teana a very upscale, very delicate appearance. Even before sitting in, you’ll notice the thick wool carpets which look more at home in a high-end luxury yacht than in a car. Sliding into the driver’s seat, your eyes will be filled with the sight of matte wood trim. It won’t pass for the real thing, but it does work very well to uplift the cabin. There are also some unnoticed luxury touches such as the padded A-pillar, but in the end, it all blends seamlessly together to give the Teana a top-notch interior that’s worthy of your consideration.
Arriving at the subject of creature features, the P 2.048-Million Teana comes to battle with everything including the kitchen sink. Aside from leather and matte wood, the Teana comes with ventilated seats, a push-button keyless engine start/stop, automatic climate control with plasma cluster, cruise control, moon roof, and even a powered rear sun blind. To be frank, the only thing missing in the Teana is a personal butler.
Sadly, no amount of dressing up rectifies the Teana’s largest problem: dated ergonomics. Although the Teana comes fitted with powered front seats as standard (the passenger is actually treated to a segment-exclusive ottoman seat), it’s hard to find a comfortable seating position. Whatever movement you do, you end up either too close/too near the steering wheel or too close/too near the pedals but not at the same time. This problem is further hampered by a lack of a telescopic steering column, a feature now commonly found even in some sub-compact cars. The ergonomics problem doesn’t stop there. Controlling the touch screen multimedia system is quite a pain given its responsiveness or lack thereof. Although it gives the Teana some excellent infotainment opportunities such as DVD and iPod playback, onboard GPS navigation, and even Bluetooth hands-free, operating it requires patience and a steady hand.
Though it’s generally a large aspect to living with the Teana, the sub-par ergonomics is the only criticism you can level at Nissan’s executive sedan. Underpinned by the “Nissan D” platform, the Teana has a well-controlled, well-mannered driving experience which is very exemplary. Again, the Teana is not sporty nor does it aspire to be, but it’s responsive, stable, and easily one of the most comfortable cars on the road. The steering is most definitely light, but it does make the Teana very maneuverable through tight parking spaces. The all-around independent suspension (struts in front, multi-links at the back), absorbs even the worst of bumps and potholes while lending this car some surprising agility. Even with the test unit’s rear parking camera/sensors going berserk, the Teana somewhat betrays its girth and is quite easy to slot through traffic thanks to good visibility on all four corners.
In order to properly fight its V6-powered competitors, the Teana makes use of the famed and legendary VQ series engine. With a displacement of 3.5-liters, the VQ35DE engine in the 350XV makes 252 horsepower and 335 Nm of torque. Although these figures are short of the 270 plus horses in its rivals, the Teana’s secret is to pair this engine with a seamless CVT transmission. Dubbed XTRONIC, it makes for a linear power delivery and unobtrusive acceleration thanks to eliminated shift shocks caused by conventional automatic transmissions. There’s a manual override mode on the 350XV, but the responsiveness of the XTRONIC makes it largely unnecessary. And during a week’s worth of city driving, the Teana still managed to return 6.3 km/L which puts it in the same league as its rivals.
Although the Nissan Teana still isn’t a top-of-mind choice when it comes to an executive sedan, it does offer some surprisingly good attributes namely design, interior space, and choice of materials. If only Nissan could correct the Teana’s questionable ergonomics, give it more power (the same VQ35DE now makes 351 horsepower in other markets), and price it more competitively (hint: lower the price), it can easily gain back the traction once enjoyed by the Cefiro. As it stands though, the Nissan Teana is a good executive sedan, but only for the 1 percent who aren’t lining up for its competition.