Nissan developed the Sunny as an entry-level one-litre model in 1966, but the model finished its original run in 2005 as a mid-sized car with a two-litre engine as one of its options. Once Nissan’s mainstay in the small-car market, the Sunny’s switch to front-wheel drive in 1981 meant that the differences between it and the originally smaller Pulsar became fewer. It began appealing more to conservative Japanese buyers, who prefer more formal cars than Nissan’s export-market customers, but even they alone could not sustain the Sunny.
Over its nearly 40-year run, Nissan says it sold 6·4 million Sunnys. However, in 2003, only 42,000 Sunnys were sold, one-seventh of its peak year of 1973.
The Nissan Sunny lives on in spirit as the Nissan Sentra. The Sentra name began with the Mexican edition of the Sunny before becoming a popular Nissan name worldwide, denoting American Sunnys since 1982. By 2000, the Sentra models stayed on a Sunny platform but had their own distinct sheetmetal, and were replaced in 2007 by an all-new car not shared outside the Americas.
A new Sunny line, based on a Nissan March platform, recommenced in 2011 for the Chinese market initially, with some 160 countries targeted for the new model.
The Sunny name has also adorned other Nissan models on export.
q.v. Nissan Sentra