Imran threw me the keys to the Sunny this week, because his ’91 Trans Am is back from the shop getting its tyres crayoned, or its Corvette-salvaged wing pin-striped, or something.
I stepped in and turned the key — the Micra has a push-button start at the expense of a multifunctional steering wheel, but these two equipment options are featured vice versa on the similarly priced Sunny — and the 1.5-litre engine sneezed into life like an asthmatic mouse. Alarmingly, the trip meter nestled between the tachometer and the speedo displayed the average fuel economy, reading 11km to the litre.
Frankly that’s pathetic, and before I go blaming the Nissan Sunny I am cursing Imran and his right foot that’s grown accustomed to lethargic and strangulated early-Nineties American V8s. He claims his 5.7-litre develops 250bhp, whereas I’m convinced he’s lucky with 150bhp, at the flywheel, which necessitates a wasteful driving style just to get the old Trans Am off the line. If you drive a Sunny like that, you might really upset its demographics.
So I set out to do a week-long economy run, reset the trip meter, brimmed the tank (it only costs about Dh65), and slipped on thin-sole shoes for maximum throttle feathering feel. Over the next few days I learned nothing about the car’s dynamics and performance, but I did notice a flat spot in the power band, or rather a dip, at about three-four thousand revs. Didn’t bother me much, though, because I hardly ever ventured past those heady heights, anyway.
I live about 20km away from work, and during each evening commute I would steadily accelerate to 120kph, one eye constantly on the instant fuel economy read-out, just before it’s time to take the highway exit. I avoided braking and coasted to every light, I drafted trucks who would take my low-pressure wake with them because they were always faster, and I moved off the line only slightly faster than a sloth, but soon enough the average fuel economy settled to 18km-per-litre, and then over the week steadily dropped to 17km-per-litre.
Had I bothered to inflate the tyres I would’ve eked out more range out of the little tank, but even my average translates to less than six litres of fuel used per 100km, which is better than Nissan’s own estimate for the Sunny. Naturally, my week-long economy-run enraged everybody else on the roads, as a silver Sunny posed a daily threat in the form of a mobile chicane (you may have heard about it on the radio traffic update), but then I thought I’m still moving a fair bit faster than your typical Sunny driver, so why is everybody zapping me?
In conclusion, I spent Dh10.11 to travel 100km in the Sunny, whereas Imran spent Dh15.63 to complete the same distance, meaning he’s now left with a lot less cash to spend on crayoning his tyres, and I win yet again. Now here, take these darned keys back…