The Nissan Grand Livina has been one of the most popular compact MPVs in the country, if not the most. So popular, it was crowned as the best-selling non-national MPV in 2010, prior to the introduction of a facelift version a year after. This can be directed to the fact that the seven-seater has been simple and functional – an often proven formula – since its first inception in the market. We believe Nissan is keeping the same successful recipe for the second generation Grand Livina, of which we tested recently.

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But what we had in our perusal was tuned by Impul, Nissan’s exclusive aftermarket company. Originated in Japan in the 80s, Impul made its name in the country by working their magic on many Nissan models previously, including the Almera and of course, the first gen Grand Livina itself. The latter was a crowd-favourite, most probably because it handled like a dream and came with an optional five-speed manual transmission. But can the second iteration of the Grand Livina Tuned By Impul (that’s the formal name) fill in the big shoes of its predecessor?

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First up, the facelifted model, on its own, looks sharper than the previous version. With the Impul kit on, the Grand Livina takes a step further from its conventional image of a seven-seater MPV. The said kit includes an aerokit including a rear wing, steady 17-inch wheels and an exhaust muffler. Fitted with a sports suspension system, the Grand Livina sits low looking like a lightly tuned street-bred race car looking for some midnight action.

On the other side of the coin, the cabin of the Grand Livina looks ready to excite a middle age couple with a bunch of annoying kids. Gone is the dark grey material as seen on the previous Impul-kitted Grand Livina. The cabin now looks and feels brighter, thanks to the vibrant beige palette on the fabric seats, door panels and bottom part of the dashboard. The exciting colour combo is joined by the pleasant faux-wood trim on the centre console and gear shift knob. While the MPV gets a redesigned steering wheel with audio control buttons, it only comes with a standard audio unit instead of an infotainment system with navigation, of which comes as an option for an extra RM3,700.

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Getting into the car is ordinary – you’ll be greeted with the ‘uncle-ish’ but comfortable cabin environment – but firing the 1.8-litre engine to life is something else. The Impul bit at the rear end really adds a deep grunt to the exhaust note, of which we guess could be a little too deep for some, especially to those ‘family man’ type of buyers. Mated to a four-speed automatic gearbox, the engine produces 124 hp and 174 Nm of torque, which enough to carry seven people with a full load but considerably lacks the much needed punch. The noise it comes with would be a great companion on short drives around the city, but on the highway, it can get bothersome and you’ll be contemplating about getting rid of the muffler.

Handling is unexpectedly fun, to say the least. We took the Grand Livina to the East Coast and found out that the seven-seater has a few tricks beyond its sleeves. You can’t see them, but the stiffened suspension setup did what it is supposed to do – minimising body roll while not being too harsh on the ride. Although blessed with a typically large greenhouse of an MPV, the Grand Livina steers along the bends and changes direction like a sedan. Then, comes the big alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Direction 5 rubbers. We can’t say the tyres have race car-like grip, but they certainly allow drivers to push in and out of the corners.

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We wouldn’t be hassled too much on the car’s performance but one thing that is really outstanding about the Grand Livina, apart from its cool low-slung profile, is the accessibility of the cabin. While we take some time to get used to the beige interior, we found the seating arrangement ideal for seven adults. The second row seats can be easily folded, giving easy access to the third row. There are also plenty of cup holders and arm rests – even in the second and third row – so passengers can enjoy the ride without having to worry much on staining the fabric seats.

On the whole, the Impul-kitted Grand Livina is a decent MPV made to carry seven people. Unlike those Japanese MPVs you see scattered on the parking lot of grey importers around Klang Valley, the Grand Livina certainly loses out on ‘luxury’ but for RM114,280, you’ll land yourself a good deal for a brand new vehicle, complete with interesting Impul goodies.

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2014 Nissan Grand Livina Tuned by Impul
Price (RM) RM114,280 OTR
Engine Type DOHC, 4-Cylinder with CVTC
Displacement 1,798 cc
Power 124 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Torque 174 Nm @ 4,800 rpm
Gearbox 4-Speed Automatic
Kerb Weight 1,280 kg
Wheelbase 2,600 mm
Length 4,420 mm
Width 1,690 mm
Height 1,590 mm
Suspension MacPherson Struts (F), Torsion Beam (R)
Brakes Ventilated Disc (F), Drum (R) With ABS, EBD, BA
Tyres Size 205 / 45 R17