Nissan has released the new iteration of its Sylphy, the compact sedan which pitches against the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, and you saw it here first at Auto China 2012.

Apart from the addition of daytime-running LEDs, new headlamps and a new grille, it isn’t exactly worlds apart from the previous-gen model when you look at it from the outside. Interior amenities include dual-zone air con and keyless ignition.

However, the real changes are underneath. A new 1.8 litre MR engine is offered with Nissan’s Twin C-VTC technology. Like Toyota’s Dual VVT-i, the system continually alters the opening of both inlet and exhaust valves to suit driving conditions. The result is better fuel efficiency and more power.

The valve lifters are also now coated with a hydrogen-free, diamond-like carbon (DLC) to reduce friction. There is a change to the transmission too – the Xtronic CVT’s gear ratios are now wider, and the gearbox is lighter and smaller.

Built under license in Guangzhou by Dongfeng Nissan, the Sylphy will hit Chinese showrooms later in the year, and will be available in 120 countries around the world by 2014. It’s safe to say Malaysia will be among them.

UPDATE: More live gallery photos added, after the jump.