The Grand Livina multi-purpose vehicle has been instrumental in the rejuvenation of the Nissan brand in Malaysia over the past five years and, given its success, it is not surprising that the compact people-mover is enjoying such a long run.
Which is not to say things have stood still in the overall Grand Livina scheme of things – we’ve seen a facelift and the popular Impul kit – that kept punters keen.
Bodykits may not enhance the used value of cars, but they certainly give the driver a bit of an ego boost. Drivers who are willing to shell out a bit more cash, that is ...
The second bodykit for the Grand Livina comes from Autech, a renowned Japanese pro tuner of Nissan cars. However, the mechanicals have been left untouched; what the Autech kit does is jazz up the looks of the Grand Livina 1.8-litre model.
Among the stuff you get on the exterior are a flashy chrome grille in front with a new front bumper, snazzier Autech 15-inch alloy wheels and V-Kool Solargard Armorcoat window tint, while the changes inside include brown or black leather finished cabin, integrated six-inch touchscreen navigation and multimedia system with USB/Bluetooth support and reverse camera.
An optional item is the 26cm ceiling mounted LCD monitor.
What they did leave out, and which could irk many, are the cabin ceiling lamps; yes, there is one in the last row, but looking for anything in front at night is near impossible. I was told the roof light was excluded because the vehicle was adhering to Indonesian and Thai specs.
The seven-seater went through quite a bit with a full load (I had relatives visiting) during a long weekend I had it, courtesy of Edaran Tan Chong Motor Sdn Bhd, the local Nissan distributor.
The 1.8L engine proved to be smooth and peppy, sounding rough only when floored.
On a drive up to Genting Highlands, the Grand Livina showed itself to be competent, if not overeager, with five adults and two teens inside.
Take away the load and the 1.8L is more than willing to keep the driver interested.
There’s a nice – somewhat light – tone to the exhaust when you’re pushing for speed, which the engine delivers happily – among the reasons the MPV has found favour with a wide range of drivers.
I’ve experienced the same engine in a different platform, and I’ve also had a turn with the 1.6-litre variant in the five-seater Livina X-Gear crossover.
As long as there’s no full load to lug around, all variants – engines and bodies – turn out very respectable performances in their categories.
When it came to space, my teenage niece and nephew didn’t have any complaints riding in the last row, and this I assume, is because of the Grand Livina’s handling and ride, both very car-like, and comfortable at that.
The electric steering also ensured total ease of navigation in tight spots.
Handling, in fact, is a big winner for the Grand Livina, in standard guise or whatever form in which it is kitted out – it’s a very easy vehicle to get into tight spots, and there’s a touch of the continental in its overall feel ... thanks, no doubt, to its Renault association.
Despite being a compact MPV, the Grand Livina is deceptively spacious, and this quality, along with its overall mechanicals, make for a tempting and practical package – I hope these attributes evolve further in the next generation of this model.
The Autech 1.8, priced at RM105,800, is certainly a practical and fun ride.
The Autech kit does serve to distract attention from its ageing looks, but beneath the frills, one can’t help wonder to what extent Nissan will rework what has been a winning formula so far.