The Silky Smooth 2013 Nissan Teana

Over the course of a few short years after its launch, the 2010 J32 Teana managed to gain traction and quickly became a strong contender in the D-segment executive segment, edging out the second most sought after D-segment challenger with a total market share of around 16%.

The Nissan Teana was a much awaited large sedan variant when it was launched at the end of 2010 as a CKD, for ETCM (Edaran Tan Chong Motor) had not brought in a serious D-segment contender for a while now. As with the Almera that replaces the 20-year Sunny, ETCM has a knack to wait out (for too long) and see. When the J31 CBU Teana launched here in 2007, it did not manage to stir public interest with its 2.3-liter displacement and a decent pricing of RM230,000.

Prior to the Teana replacing its very popular Cefiro, the latter had its fair share of followers and became a major contributor to the aftermarket modding businesses. The Cefiro featured Nissan’s performance-oriented RB26DETT twin-turbocharged engines that are fitted to the regular A31 and A32 bodies, sharing a common platform and the RB-coded engine insignia. The A33 Cefiro was the last of its kind, with the last units produced in 2003. Nissan’s popular large sedan persevered in some markets, as the Teana J31 (2003-2008) was still called the Cefiro in countries like Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei and some Latin American countries.

Over the course of a few short years after its launch, the 2010 J32 Teana managed to gain traction and quickly became a strong contender in the D-segment executive segment, edging out the second most sought after D-segment challenger with a total market share of around 16%. I’m guessing that ETCM themselves were pleasantly surprised at such a strong showing, for it was definitely no easy task to knock out the two most popular Japanese marques in the country. Launched at the end of 2010, the pre-facelifted Teana was offered in three versions; the basic 2.0-liter, 2.5-liter and 3.5 V6. In its quest to be a premium sedan in the domestic scene, the Teana carried these class-leading features such as automatic headlamps, dual-zone climate controls, push start, 6-speaker audio system with MP3, front parking sensors etc on all variants except the base model, while the 2.5 level got self-leveling Xenon headlamps, cruise control, keyless entry, 8-way electric driver’s seat and 4-way front passenger seat, steering wheel controls, side airbags and Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC). The range topping 3.5 V6 was factory-fitted with 17” alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof, ventilated seats and curtain airbags. Now we can see just why the Teana managed to shoot to the top 2 position in such a short time.

2013 Nissan Teana: Upping the ante

ETCM decided in just a few short years that it was time to mildly refresh the Teana, possibly in response to the earlier launches of its top two rivals in the other camps. A new safety feature of late in Japanese sedans is the very useful lane watch feature, or which Nissan calls Blind Spot Warning Radar System (BSW in short). Upping the ante on the Korean marques and the D-segment market leader which didn’t have the feature in their cars yet, Nissan included BSW in their upmarket 2.5L V6 variant, being the first in the D-segment category to have this feature. The system uses wireless radar sensors that are mounted within the rear bumper on either side, tasked to detect moving objects within the driver’s blind spot areas in the side mirrors. When an object is within the radars’ detection range, a little LED indicator mounted at the wing mirrors will start to blink to visually alert the driver. If the driver then signals to change lanes while the indicator is lit, a warning buzzer comes on to further warn the driver to be careful.

The refresh exercise benefited the 2.5L V6 variant the most, as apart from the BSW system, it also gets a sporty new dark leather interior with a new dark-brown matte wood trim as well as a fully leather-clad steering wheel, possibly in an attempt to lure customers who are in their late 30s or early 40s having a mid-life crisis. The original beige/brown interior of the pre-refresh Teana soldiers on in the 2.0 variant. I was never particularly fond of the light beige interior of the older variant, as it would probably not last a week in my grubby hands, especially the beige/wood trim steering wheel. Admittedly though, a beige interior does look classier, but I do believe that ordinary folk with a couple of kids in tow would rather go with practicality rather than style. With the older interior, the barge-like cabin space felt even more spacious, but thankfully, because the Teana is intrinsically large within and without, hiding the cabin in black leather merely mutes the apparent size down just by a miniscule.

Externally, the refreshed Teana sports a recolored front grille where the inner slats of the grille are
anodized in a metallic dark brown color whereas its predecessor wore a fully chromed face. This little exercise, though subtle, helps to dial down the “Uncle” factor a few notches. During the unveiling, it sported a full aero kit but on our test unit it only came with side skirts and a rear trunk spoiler to add a touch of sportiness. Those looking to buy the car should check with their nearest ETCM branch for an accurate representation of current packages.

2013 Nissan Teana: Mechanically still as good as ever

Aside from these little retouches, the 2013 Teana is essentially the same car inside. No revisions were made to the drivetrain and powertrain of all variants, though the top of the line 3.5 V6 has been dropped from the lineup, so right now there are two versions on offer; the 2.0L Comfort/Luxury and 2.5L V6 Premium. In the 2-liter offerings, the Teana is driven by the same tried and tested economical MR20DE powerplant that also drives the Sylphy, Serena and X-Trail variants in our market, harnessed to an XTronic CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), while the range-topping 2.5L V6 Premium sticks to the 2.5-liter VQ25DE V-configured, award-winning and smooth as silk powerplant for one last hurrah. Owing to many external factors, one of which is an uncertain global economic climate, the VQ25DE will part ways with the upcoming J33 Teana. A new QR25DE 4-cylinder mill will take over, probably offering better fuel economy but with slightly less power. So in a way, the current 2.5L V6 model will be the last of its kind for the foreseeable future.

For those unfamiliar with the Teana, here’s an impression on the driving dynamics of the car. The large sedan takes on independent MacPherson struts up front and an independent Multi-Link system at the back as well as ventilated discs and solid discs at the rear for utmost stability and unconditional balance during spirited drives.

on paper the Teana seems to be like any other D-segment sedan out there. Drive it out on the road however, and you will be pleasantly surprised at just how well the car is sprung. Damping rates are first class fore and aft, so every time you encounter a speed bump, just drive over it and feel the absorbers cushioning the car on the way down with the gentlest of rebounds, akin to a cat landing after a jump, if you’ve ever seen one do it. Rear passengers were not forgotten when they were designing the car’s suspension, as my rear passengers remarked at just how comfortable it was back there. Those pesky road strips coming up to a toll booth? Piece of cake. The Teana dispenses with road imperfections with such a gentle and unobtrusive manner that you begin to realize just how good Nissan can be at designing suspensions. NVH on highways were very decently subdued as well, adding another feather to the proverbial cap.

If after reading the above para you start to dismiss the Teana as a softly sprung old man’s car, you’d need to take a second look. The Teana behaves and handles a lot better than its lofty overhangs suggest. You would be forgiven if you thought that a really large, 1.5-ton D-segment executive class sedan would be all over the place when attempting sharp turns, for it does look more at home on a smooth motorway, compared to when it’s negotiating twistys on B-roads. At adhesion limits you can just hear the tyres start to complain a bit, emitting a soft squeal to warn you of impending grip loss. I could also detect a slight wallow when taking sharp bends, no thanks in part to the long overhang at the hind quarters. Having said that, I do believe the Teana can do a lot more in the hands of a more experienced driver with bigger ‘nads, but as for me, I was satisfied overall and more than pleased with how well the Teana behaved when tackling bad roads, which ranks high on my wish list for the almost perfect large sedan for daily driving.

2013 Nissan Teana: The Proposition

ETCM (Nissan Malaysia) does tend to take its own sweet time when it comes to new variant launches, so the refreshed J32 Teana will still be able to make a dent in the sales charts until the replacement comes along. At RM173,100, the Teana 2.5L V6 Premium goes to battle against heavyweights in the market at roughly the same price bracket, but offers best in class engine refinement (for now), BSW Radar System, a capacious cabin, first rate suspension and a classy ‘refreshed’ interior. If you haven’t heard the purr of a V6 in action, now is the time to take the Teana 2.5L V6 for a spin to appreciate why Nissan’s VQ range of engines has been internationally recognized year after year and is good enough to see action in Nissan’s premium variants line-up under the Infinity emblem.

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