Nissan's Grand Livina features prominently amongst the sub-RM100,000 multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) on the Malaysian market, but with an engine and seating capacity that delivers.
Given its seven-seater capacity, the Grand Livina seems set as an affordable family MPV, with additional aesthetics such as a lower-placed body which gives off the air of a sedan from the outside.
Those who prefer a traditional MPV’s higher seating vantage for gauging traffic might not enjoy the lowered body, but it comes with its own advantages, which are mentioned later.
Despite the family bent, the car’s facade features a more aggressive look, with a chrome engine grille, swooping headlights and thick bottom front bumper for the fog lamps, while Nissan’s i-Key (Intelligent Key) allows for keyless entry and push start, giving a better feeling of security for drivers.
The Grand Livina comes with either a 1.6-litre engine (with manual or automatic transmission) or, for this review, a 1.8-litre engine and four-speed automatic gearshift.
The four-cylinder engine which churns out 126PS at 5,200rpm, and 174Nm of torque at 4,800rpm might seem underpowered to the gearheads, but it is definitely more than sufficient for city driving and picking up the kids from school.
Even so, the four-speed engine, combined with the car’s lower centre of gravity, made driving on the highway an enjoyable experience, more so on an empty load; and one has to be careful not to breach speed limits.
Other driving features include the drive-by-wire system and the electronic brake-force distribution system (EBD). Nissan states that the EBD system senses the MPV’s load condition and optimises the real brake force to control both front and rear brake distribution. Braking is also made more comfortable by the front-disc/rear-drum combo.
In the interior, the Livina’s dashboard is set with wood-effect inserts around the central console, on the front armrests as well as the gearshift stick.
The upholstery is set in a light, cream two-tone which complements the wood-effect inserts.
With no weekend trips outstation to test the seats’ comfort on extended drives, they were comfortable enough commuting between Petaling Jaya and Rawang during rush-hour and the air-conditioners’ strength was sufficient that even passengers at the back on sunny days weren’t complaining.
To adjust the second- and third-row seats to fold and accommodate large pieces of baggage and other bulky items, one uses a system of tug strips and bands to fold them and the second-row can be split adjusted.
One only wishes that Nissan had also considered the same for the third-row seats, which would have introduced more flexibility.
Infotainment systems are much improved compared to the previous Livina model, with the steering wheel now incorporating both Audio and Multi-Information Display controls, red-illuminated at night for ease of viewing.
The centre infotainment console is both one-click button and touchscreen, with the option of playing CD/DVD, MicroSD cards, USB or iPod.
Back passengers can view a movie through a 9-inch TFT (thin-film transistor) screen that unfolds from a ceiling console about 60cm aft of the rearview mirror.
While there are some aspects which could be improved, such as the rear seats’ folding arrangement or dearth of cup holders, the feeling is that for the engine capacity and seating potential the Grand Livina offers, the on-the-road price tag of RM99,880 is more than justified.
Potential owners also get a choice of five colours to choose from: Graphite Blue (the colour for this test model), Diamond Black, Bronze Gold, Brilliant White and Tungsten Silver.