While unearthing the nicknames of the two most popular brands, it appears we’ve only just scratched the surface of Filipinos’ fondness for pet names. For this segment, we cover yet another popular brand among enthusiasts, Nissan.
Nissan has been in the country for over 40 years, and while not as popular as the other two in the 70’s and 80’s, Nissan enjoyed a bit of a renaissance in the early 90's. Naturally, that kind of popularity bestowed its popular compacts and mid-size sedans with nicknames.
Being the 80's, a lot of cars were rather boxy, hence, the car that signaled the return of Nissan in the country was the “Box-type” Sentra. While the car's nickname is rather derivative, the B12's engine got a far more interesting alias. Because the valve cover was rather unusually shaped, people at the time saw some similarities between that particular part and Sinigang's main ingredient, “Sampaloc” (tamarind). Needless to say, the moniker stuck to the B12's engine.
Riding on the wave of the Box-type Sentra, Nissan unveiled the B13 in 1992. It featured more curves than its predecessor that soon became a staple of 90's car design. For the 1.6 liter models, it featured the Electronic Concentrated Control System or ECCS for short. Nissan was proud of the new tech and plastered ECCS sticker on the trunklid. Eventually, most people came to know the B14 Sentra as the ECCS model. Even after its successor was introduced, the B13 was still sold alongside it, with a new badge appended to it, “LEC”, which some enthusiasts may know it by.
One can say that the transformation of the B13 Sentra to the B14 is similar to that of the 'Love-life' Corolla to the Altis. It was bigger, a lot rounder and far more stylish than its predecessor. Advertised as the “Series III”, the moniker soon stuck. The Series III wasn't the only nickname for the B14 Sentra. A mid-life refresh of the model in 1998 saw more chrome trim and different tail lights. Unsurprisingly, the revamped Series III was nicknamed the “Series 4”, even if it wasn't advertised as such. A few years after that came a much more significant make-over, and Exalta was appended to the Sentra nameplate, adding in luxury car touches (like a sunroof, window blinds, and wood and leather upholstery in the door panels and center divider) never before seen in a compact sedan.
A new decade had arrived and after nearly a decade of the B14, an all-new Sentra was finally introduced. Though sourced from Taiwan and called the Almera in other markets, Nissan kept the Sentra name, continuing the Exalta top-trim levels but naming the top-of-the-line the “Grandeur”. After all, it had the same luxury touches with the addition of a built-in VCD player and monitor to watch movies on the go. In what appears to be a halo effect, the rest of the NC16 Sentra's range was nicknamed Grandeur as well, even if one was driving a base model. The NC16 would also see its life extended with a mid-life refresh, though the Exalta badge was discontinued. The new look would be called, “GX”, after its new top trim variant.
Unlike Toyota and Mitsubishi, Nissan had a mix of short-lived mid-size sedans in its history. We had the Maxima, Bluebird and the Altima which returns to the Philippines as the Teana's replacement. However longest running mid-size sedan the brand offered was the Cefiro.
The nicknames for the Cefiro didn't start until its second generation which arrived in the Philippines in late 1996. Far more luxurious than the A31 Cefiro, it shifted to front wheel drive and its ride was comfort oriented. Despite not having visible badging in its first release, the car soon gained the nickname 'Elite'.
It would be the end of the road for the Cefiro with the arrival of the A33 series. While the A32 saw the initial release of the Brougham trim level, it gained popularity in the A33. Eventually, the car became to be known as the 'Brougham', despite having Elite as one of its trim levels.
Even though these nameplates have been retired, the cars have left an imprint with the Filipino consumers for almost three decades. Of course, there are a lot more automotive ailiases out there and we'll be covering those in our next installment. Heard of a nickname we might have missed? Let us know in the comments.