1991 Nissan NX

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IndyStar.com
Nissan Motor Corp. had a pretty good idea with its Nissan NX series, and with its new 1991 NX coupes Nissan has an even better one.

The NX comes in two models, the 1600 and the more upstream 2000, which has a larger engine and different trim. Both are powered by high-tech, dual-overhead-cam, 16-valve engines. The 1600 has a 1.6-liter motor and the 2000 has a 2.0-liter power plant.

Both engines work well because the coupe is fairly light. The 1600 has a small advantage here, having a curb weight with a manual five-speed transmission of 2,350 pounds. The 2000 weighs in at 2,461 pounds without a T-top, and 2,516 pounds with a T-top.

When a four-speed automatic is on board, weights are proportionately distributed, with the 1600 at 2,410 and the 2000 at 2,509 and 2,564 pounds, respectively.

An NX 1600 equipped with air conditioning is a better proposition with the five-speed gearbox than the automatic. You don't run the compressor for the air-conditioning system for free, so ridding the 1.6-liter engine of additional power losses from the automatic transmission's torque converter element helps both performance and fuel mileage.

This came to the fore in the five-speed-equipped 1600 that Gary Corlett, vice president and general manager of Collins Nissan, provided for a test car. The five-speed let the engine get up into a speed range where horsepower starts to make itself felt.

By virtue of its double-overhead cams and lightweight valve gear, the engine was quick to rev. Around 3,000 rpm, it got up on the cams and air and fuel began flowing. With Nissan's variable valve-timing system, the four-cylinder power plant really came to life.

The test car had great clutch action, taking up the power smoothly. But going from gear to gear, the shift lever exhibited slight hang tendencies. A firm hand overcame this. I have a hunch that shifting will free up more after the car gets some miles on it.

The coupe, rated a minicompact, is on the small side. However, getting in and out weren't all that inconvenient. Once inside, there was a reasonable amount of leg room.

I can't say the same for the back seat, but there is only so much you can do with a 2-plus-2 coupe on a 95.7-inch wheelbase.

The front-drive was cat-quick in its maneuverability, with fast steering and a penchant for being thrown around. It also could be as docile as a luxury sedan, adapting readily to slow urban motoring.

In really heavy Downtown traffic, things went better in third gear. Mark this up to 97 cubic inches of engine displacement. That's a fairly small engine, and it's a little short on low-end torque.

The NX 1600 is a specialty coupe with sports-car overtures. Its aerodynamic styling comes from the Nissan Design International Center in San Diego, Calif.

This niche vehicle is aimed at young buyers. It blends technology with the art of driving.

1991 Nissan NX 1600Base price: $11,090.As tested: $12,828.Type: Front-engine, front-drive, four-p assenger subcompact coupe.Engine: 1.6-liter, 16-valve, fuel-injected, 110-horsepower, four-cylinder.Mileage: 28 mpg city, 38 mpg highway.Acceleration: 0-60 mph in 9 seconds.Length: 162.4 inches.Wheelbase: 95.7 inches.Curb weight: 2,350 pounds.Options: Air conditioning, ET 1100 audio system, floor mats.Area dealers: Carmel, Collins, Hubler, Tom Wood, Classic.


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