Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd plans to unveil a sports concept car aimed at the younger buyer market segment in the first quarter of 2007. The car is said to be based on the Nissan Sports Concept which was recently shown at the 2006 KL International Motor Show and first unveiled at the 2005 New York International Auto Show.
Of course, the Nissan Sports Concept is not a production model. Cues from the Nissan Sports Concept have been incorporated into the 1.8 litre sporty 2007 Nissan Versa hatchback and this will likely be the car that Edaran Tan Chong will be bringing in to Malaysia. The car will likely be priced in the RM100-120K range, making it a direct competitor to the Ford Focus 2.0 hatchback. It is already available in Singapore as the Nissan Latio Sport, but the Singaporean version only offers a 1.5 litre engine instead of a 1.8 litre engine.
The 2007 Nissan Versa comes with a 122 horsepower 169Nm torque 1.8 litre 4-cylinder DOHC engine (MR18DE) mated to a choice of three transmissions – a 6-speed stick shift, a 4-speed automatic and a high-end Xtronic CVT transmission. If the Nissan Versa does make it appearance on local shores, it’s not known which transmission options will be offered but let’s hope that we get at least the CVT transmission instead of the 4-speed auto. The Ford Focus 2.0 has come under criticism for offering only a 4-speed slush box.
Nissan’s Xtronic CVT is a continuously variable transmission which is “stepless”, but also offers 6 virtual gears for those that prefer the feel of a normal gear changes. The same MR18DE and CVT combo in the Nissan Wingroad featured paddle shifters on the steering wheel, so this new Versa might offer the same. Would be a really good plus point if it did, since it is geared towards spirited driving.
The 2007 Nissan Versa uses a stretched wheelbase version of the Renault-Nissan B platform, also used by other vehicles like the Nissan Cube, Nissan March/Micra Mk3, Renault Clio Mk3, Nissan Note and Renault Modus.
Despite it being a newly developed engine, the MR18DE powertrain remains strangely basic. It has no variable intake runners, no variable valve timing, no high tech electronics, no high precision direct injection, no turbo, nothing. There is an electric power steering though.
Anyhow, we have something to look forward to from Nissan in Quarter 1 2007. There has been no genuinely new models from Edaran Tan Chong in a pretty long time. I am not sure whether the Versa is indeed the new sporty model that Tan Chong will be bringing in, so let’s just cross our fingers.