Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX

This is not so bad. And it’s cheap. It’s the Nissan 100 NX.

1993 Nissan 100 NX 1,6 SLX
1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX. All images:

Editor’s note: This article first appeared on Driven to Write on 2 December 2015.

As with so many of these types of cars, they dissolve into obscurity and when you eventually chance upon them they look much better than you remember them. We have discussed in these pages design rationalism of the French and German types. In the Nissan 100 NX we see some more of this. The way the shutlines and panel gaps are set up is very disciplined indeed. Look at the way the bonnet shutline goes without interruption from one side of the window base to the other. The styling theme is that of the 300 ZX scaled down a bit and squashed over a front-drive chassis. That car appeared in 1989 and faded away in 2000.

Typical dealer photo, with too much pavement. 1993 Nissan 100 NX

What was the 100 NX? In short, it was a dressed up Nissan Sunny. It had two doors and was sold with a fixed steel roof and an optional Targa style roof, with removable panels. Two engines served the 100 NX: a 1.6 and a 2.0 litre. For the first three years the 1.6 had a carburettor and then more reliable fuel-injection. The car had power steering and a combination of discs and drums. Five speeds, of course.

1993 Nissan 100 NX interior:
1993 Nissan 100 NX interior

Generally, the car is enjoying a fairly decent afterlife. It’s ID aesthetic is now appealingly vintage and the market for small, affordable mildly sporting cars is not huge, so there seems to be a steady demand for these little front-drive go-karts. Road and Track rated the car’s handling very highly. The British press were less sympathetic, disliking its exterior appearance and drab interior. And yes, it is drab. The reason for that was to keep the cost of the car down. Ford played a similar game with the Puma and ditto the Tigra, based on the Corsa.

This particular car has been rust-treated, has a recent MOT and comes in a striking shade of yellow which I must say I find rather appealing. All in all, 22 years later, this little vehicle is a steal at 19,500 Kr. There’s only one on sale in Denmark too.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

20 thoughts on “Something Rotten In Denmark: 1993 Nissan 100 NX 1.6 SLX”

  1. Nissan was an incredibly adventurous company in the late 1980s. Their roster of sports cars alone would fill out a page in my Daily Mail Motorshow Guide. It was easy to dismiss the 100NX at the time, excelling in neither performance nor handling at a time when the market was overburdened with performance cars to suit every pocket. It probably did not help matters that the 100NX looked like a shrunken 300ZX with a poverty spec interior. But time has been very kind; removed from its context, the car’s styling is revealed to be quite fetching. I would be tempted to take a punt on that one, were I to have the garage space.

  2. My memory of the 100NX is of it having a fixed hardtop – I never remember noticing a targa, though a quick check tells me that these were in the majority, so either they weren’t popular in the UK, or my badge snobbery prevented me from looking closer. The T roof, does make the car seem a lot more of an attractive proposition – the open air always makes you forgive any dynamic shortcomings.

  3. I was never a friend of the 100NX. I thought that the odd front treatment was somewhat contradictory to the sober rest. And the interior is definitely a no-go for me, I wasn’t aware that it’s so terrible.

    The colour is great, however, and it’s very typical for this car. Alas, today it usually looks bad: it fades very unevenly, with perceptible colour differences between horizontal and vertical surfaces as well as between plastic and metal parts. The example on the photo looks quite good in this respect, probably a carefully garaged car?

  4. I wasn’t much of an NX Coupe fan at the time either although I can see the appeal of one now. Honda, Mazda and Toyota (at least in Japan, lest anyone think I’m referring to the Paseo/Cynos) seemed to offer better options than the NX. On top of that, I liked the NX’s predecessor, the EXA. Purely because of the novelty of its swappable coupe/sporting brake rear bodywork.

    1. Sporting brake? Shooting brake, not that anyone is likely to have put their hunting firearms in the back of an EXA.

  5. Good morning, Richard. I miss the small affordable coupés, but the 100NX never really appealed to me and it has indeed been largely forgotten. The shape of it is just off.

    For a small Japanese coupé I’d have a Honda CRX, which was in another league. No surprise this reflected in the secondhand prices.

    1. Oh, the CRX…I had the chance to buy a one lady owner, 100,000 km, rust free, very good condition example for 2,500 euros in 2015…I didn´t buy it because I just sold my Prelude VTEC and wanted something different.
      Nowadays everything is a “youngtimer” and priced accordly. It was supposed that, with the death of the ICE, old cars value was going to collapse. Instead, we enthusiasts are buying them in droves while we can so prices have soared (and of course the supply is diminishing).

      About the 100 NX, I dont like the styling, but a friend had a 2.0 and he says it drove really well. He has owned before a S13 200 SX and a Primera GT P10 and now he has a Bluebird Turbo GTI and a S14 200 SX with 50,000 kms on the clock, so he may be a little biased.

    2. I’ve never driven a 100 NX, but my uncle and aunt had a Primera P10. Unassuming to look at but the chassis, steering and gear change were excellent. It got replaced by a Qashqai, which was a step back in dynamic qualities. They had zero interest in cars, but liked to buy new and keep up with what was in vogue.

  6. That was the high time of small Coupés, a cheap way to have fun. You could choose between a lot of different cars in this class but – in my memory – they have all similar shapes and looks. The Mazda MX3 had a very small V6 engine, the CRX and the Nissan were Targas and the Toyota was a Toyota. All made to have fun without paying a lot for it.

    The Renault Wind was the last try and it shows these cars have no fanbase anymore.

  7. The 1990s might have been Japan’s ‘lost decade’ in economic terms, but it was a golden era in matters automotive, with beautifully disciplined and meticulously resolved designs, for both mainstream and left-field models such as the 100NX.

    I was never a great fan of the 100NX, but I’m still glad it existed as another example of the creativity of the industry at that time. My favourite small coupé was the Toyota Sera, if only for those exotic doors:

    Que Sera Sera

    For anyone hankering after a 100NX in the UK, here’s a pristine example with just 5,000 miles on the clock:

    Itncomes at a steep price though, almost £12k.

  8. Was not really a fan of the Nissan NX 100, felt it could have done with more visual appeal to remedy its off putting touches and could have been applied on a Micra K11 derived Tigra and Puma rival. Also as with the N14 Sunny/Pulsar it was based upon, it seemed both could have benefited from the dynamics of the Primera P10 if not the Almera who abilities were hidden beneath its looks. A trait that arguably held Nissan back during the 1990s to its detriment before falling into the hands of Renault.

    As for the EXA, one gets the feeling Nissan missed out on making it into an MX5-meets-AE82 RWD model since it appears the N12 was a development of the previous N10/N11 Pulsar that Nissan at one time envisaged would also be built with a longitudinal rear-wheel-drive layout for developing markets.

  9. I read the piece on the Nissan ( nice car, but they’re all gone ) then fed the cats and went to town for fresh brown soda bread. First car in the supermarket car-park was a mint white 92 T-Top ! Naturally running wider than standard alloys, but otherwise totally unmolested. It even looked like an Irish car, rather than a grey import.

  10. Frankly, I was always in two minds about the 100NX. I like the concept and the “idea” of the design referencing the stylistically rather successful 200SX and 300ZX, but in reality, it didn’t quite work. The Tigra had the same problem: too many ideas on too small a platform. Unfortunately, the industry’s solution turned out to be to enlarge the platform considerably (with all the weight, dynamic and environmental penalties associated) en then throw even more styling ideas at it.

    These cars were something of a fad back then, a throwback to the time when almost every manufacturer did a two-door coupé version of their b or c-segment platform, like the Fiat 128:

    which had two variants, even (but that’s probably more to do with Fiat’s interpretation of the notion of “product planning”).

    However, the 1ooNX and its ilk were already compromised a little (to my eyes at least) by the dimensions of their platforms, something much more apparent in the jump from the sleek if a tad bland Toyota Paseo to its successor, the Echo Coupé (known in European hatchback form as the Yaris):

    In hindsight it’s easy to get nostalgic for these cars, especially since they seem to be the last attempt by manufacturers to provide some cheap, cheerful and moderately sporting fun. I do wonder if this particular Nissan still runs, though, given the date of original publication.

    1. Hi Tom. Regarding the Fiat 128, the two coupé variants you mention were produced consecutively and resulted from Fiat’s decision to give the coupé a new rear end from the C-pillar rearward, which featured a hatchback rather than the separate boot of the pert and pretty original version in your picture: the revised car complied with the Fiat Charter for facelifts in that it was rather less attractive than the original. The story is told here:

    2. At the risk of venturing even further off topic: gosh that 124 is gorgeous. Although I think it shares a certain discipline in the execution of its design with today’s topic, its proportions are nicer.

    3. There was a time when someone of relatively modest means could drive a classy looking Italian coupé with a sweet twin-cam engine designed by a former Ferrari engineer. If they were a parent, they could even fit a couple of children in the back. What is the same person driving now? A bulky, ugly crossover…it’s enough to make you weep. 😭

    4. Yes Daniel, that was a great time – in terms of available coupe goods from Italy.
      And yes, (unfortunately) the potential buyers from back then drive shapeless heaps of metal in this world today. (Nice – or rather not nice – to see in our neighbourhood).

      The whole world? No! A small group of indomitable people won’t stop resisting the invaders. It may not be a Twin-Cam, not even from a former Ferrari engineer, but it is quite sufficient for resistance. (And after the departure of a Suzuki Swift, the only non-grey vehicle in our underground garage).

  11. This is one I had forgotten about. The Tigra never seemed “off” or overloaded though it´s a matter of taste. The same went for the Puma – a cute and handy little car for a cute and handy price. I feel the Nissan here is a little underappreciated, at least from a styling point of view. Bob is right to say it could have been better from an engineering viewpoint – however all those refinements would have nudged the car out of its intended class price range.

  12. While the 100NX is refreshingly quirky, its facial features convey
    a very untoward, worrying expression, even verging on an unrecognized, deceptive and cartoonish spleen.

    We should not forget the Paseo, though. In this specific segment,
    it wins some prizes, especially as it was the most convincing example of proper size & footprint sobriety.

    Although its shape tried to hide that fact with some success (the inverse exercise from the one in the styling of Up!, Panda 169, 500 Nuova or Qubo), it is undeniably, almost pitufully diminutive,
    and therefore so inviting from a true driver’s perspective.

    Paseo & Tigra, as well, proved that perceived reliability means a lot in this category – both wearing brands with a high score on perceived reliability/robustness. It kinda works: once a driver understands that underneath they are hardly a sport car, it pays dividends to at least believe that they’ll withstand the daily thrashing their styling simply begs for.

    The Paseo is exemplary in this regard, what with being fitted with the almost unburstable & revvy 4E-FE and 5E-FE 16-valvers,
    and that slick, durable manual gearbox attached thereto.

    Btw., Dtw., a car having a perceived quality of being able to withstand ‘pedal to the metal’ driving for extended periods, seems to be a very understated automotive marketing parameter.
    The recent success of the Dacia exercise only serves to reinforce
    its importance.
    (If only had they offered a spartan, very small (true A-segment car)
    based on a Twingo Mk1 suspension/floorpan with Twingo Mk2
    drivetraina (JB-gearbox), now that would be a proper “flog-it-
    no-regrets” daily tool).

    But I digress.

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