Nissan Sylphy and VW Bora showdown

BACKGROUNDNissan Sylphy and Volkswagen (VW) Bora have one important thing in common they tried to fit in the shoes of their bigger and famous brothers by using their platforms and names as a foundation for more sporty sedans to compete with the likes of Lexus IS200, BMW 3 series and Volvo S40. Nissan used the Bluebird platform and name to develop and market the sportier Sylphy in 2000. VW developed Bora from the legendary 1997 Golf IV as a different version with a boot. These two rivals are sold on the Ugandan used car market, we put their 2.0 litre versions on the weighing scale.

ERFORMANCEThe 2.0 litre engines in Nissan Sylphy and VW Bora are not that “punchy” (fast). However, they are good cruisers on our speed limited highways as they offer a good balance between economy and performance.

If you put Sylphy and Bora on the same highway, the Sylphy will overtake the Bora and disappear in the horizon with ease as it accelerates faster, thanks to Nissan’s QR20D engine which has superior power and torque. Sylphy’s 2.0 litre engine has slightly more engine cubic capacity and bigger engine cylinder bores which dissipate more power during each combustion cycle.

Its engine drive train has 16 valves (four valves per cylinder) rocked by double overhead camshafts (DOHC) layout as opposed to VW Bora’s eight valves (two per cylinder) rocked by a Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC) valve train layout. DOHC allows less restricted airflow at higher engine speeds and positioning of spark plugs at the centre of the cylinder head to improve combustion efficiency. This gives the Sylphy engine more prompt superior engine power and better fuel economy. This makes the Nissan engine a more attractive option to the ordinary Ugandan driver.

HANDLING AND SAFETYThe Sylphy and Bora are both good road performers. Their rigid body shells, compact shapes and stable platforms (chassis) are suitable for sporty driving. Their front independent suspension with MacPherson struts combine well with the rear multi-link suspension to give the two rivals firm road holding and stability. Arguably, Bora feels more “bolted” to the ground when manoeuvering fast through sharp corners due to a lower ground clearence. However, Sylphy uses its higher ground clearence to overcome the high humps and potoles on some roads outside Kampala.

DESIGNSylphy and Bora are compact sporty sedans with appealing exterior designs. The former is a more aerodynamic but compact version of the Nissan Bluebird with intricate soft body contours. While Bora is compact like the Golf but with a bigger body and boot. The interior decor of both cars is modern. Sylphy offers a warm and inviting wooden impression front fascia panel while Bora has the refreshing blue illuminating instrument panel. The latter’s upholstery is firmly padded and sporty like the BMW 3 series and takes a while to get used to. Front passenger legroom is ample in both cars but the passengers in the Bora will find the rear legroom cramped. Bora offers better shoulder room. Comfort ammenities such as electric windows, air conditioning and audio CD are available. Bora raises the bar by offering superior convenient features such as self dipping mirrors, heated side mirrors, remote boot openning, front fog lights and an engine service interval clock on the dashboard. Sylphy and Bora provide modern safety eqipment like front passenger airbags and anti-lock brakes (ABS). However, Bora pushes the safety standards higher by also providing side airbags for the front passengers and ABS with electronic brake force distribution (EBD), which selectively applies varying brake force to each wheel to enhance safe braking by avoiding skidding. Bora also provides superior security features such as the engine immobiliser and tamper proof wheel locking nuts.

VERDICT The Bora wins the tight race with four points for good handling on road, better convenient and safety features as well as easier maintenance with better resale value. Sylphy gets three points for better engine performance, good handling characteristics, good styling and better rear passenger comfort.



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