Nissan Tino

When Nissan's designers in Brussel studio penned the Tino MPV based on the inspiration from Renault Scenic, they didn't know the Japanese no. 2 car maker would be taken over by Renault sometime later. Now the merger has been fully effective. Tino has also gone on sale in most European countries including France. Would they regret making the Tino so look-alike to the Scenic and created internal competition?  

Calling the Tino an imitator is never far away from the truth. Look at the exterior ... that profile, those dimenisions, that windscreen, those side windows, even the headlamps look similar to the newly facelifed Scenic (although Tino actually appeared in Japan earlier than the phase II Scenic). If there were patent right for styling in motor industry, Renault would have taken legal action.  

Now explore the interior ... those 5 individual seats are independently removable, the center one can be folded down to become a table with twin cup holders ... all rear seats fold forward to enable a large cargo area ... clearly enough, everything is copied from Scenic.  

Perhaps not all. Tino's dashboard is completely original, and what's more, it looks great. Swoopy, futuristic, bright and multi-tone color scheme make the dash one of the most distinctive one currently available in vehicles of any kind. Beside the funny white dials is a bubble-shape instrument panel. Sat navigation screen is recessed under the top surface of the bubble. It pops up like a supercar's headlamp. Where's the shifter? Nissan placed it at the steering column in order to eliminate the transmission tunnel, thus between the front seats they can install an extra tiny cushion and backrest for accommodating a child. It's not Multipla-generous, just barely a 5+1 seating plan. Whenever the child seat is not in use, the small backrest can be folded down to form an arm rest. 

Another thing the pupil cleverer than the master is the 4-seater plan. Tino's rear passenger room is very tight owing to its 2535 mm wheelbase, which is the shortest among all 5-seater MPV. If there is only 4 people on board, more rear legroom can be obtained by removing the center rear seat, pushing the remaining two chairs closer together, then they could be slid backwards without being obstructed by the wheelarches. On the contrary, slide forward enable greater boot volume. 

Now come the dynamic aspect. Tino is built directly on Sunny / Almera / Sentra's floorpan, so it handles nearly as competent as most family hatchbacks. Ride from the multi-link beam axle rear suspension is very comfortable, while roll control is also good. Two engines are offered - top model has Primera's 2-litre 16v with 135 horsepower, mated exclusively with a CVT. Another version has Almera's 1.8-litre 16v, but the torquey 2-litre engine is favourable to cope with the heavy body. CVT is smooth and responsive. 

Judging objectively, Tino probably edge out the master Scenic by its more thoughtful interior layout and better visual desirability. The dashboard is overwhelmingly superior. The exterior finish is marginally better, thanks to the stylish lip spoiler and skirts fitted. Reliability is also hard to be challenged, especially is the domestic built cars (European Tino is built in Spain). However, the pupil lost a lot of subjective marks because of the lack of originality. After all, both Scenic and Tino are not as complete as our class-leaders Multipla and Picasso. 

The above report was last updated on 11 Apr 2000. All Rights Reserved.


Tino 2.0G
Front-engined, Fwd.
L / W / H / WB: 4270 / 1760 / 1610 / 2535 mm
Inline-4, dohc, 4v/cyl.
1998 c.c.
135 hp
131 lbft
F: strut / R: multi-link beam axle
195/65 R15
1440 kg
Top speed
0-60 mph
0-100 mph

Copyright© 1997-2009 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine