When Andrew came to my house with the Impul Nissan Grand Livina, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Is Nissan being serious?”. From the outlook, it seems like Nissan has slapped on a few aesthetics, like the bodykit, the big 17″ rims, a stainless steel exhaust muffler and a few Impul badges here and there, then voila, an Impul Grand Livina. For those who don’t know, Impul was formed by Nissan’s factory driver, Kazuyoshi Hoshino in 1980. The company has found success in racing local circuits such as JTCC, Super GT and Formula Nippon. For a MPV to bear the Impul name, it has to be good.
Fire up the engine and it emits a nice growl – unlike those loud Ah Beng noises typically found from Ah Yip’s exhaust shops. That’s one up for the Impul stainless steel exhaust muffler. I strapped myself into the driver’s seat and immediately noticed a problem. For a MPV, there isn’t much space to put stuff. There is a slot underneath the cigarette lighter, which I discovered, is pretty pointless as it wasn’t deep enough to store my phone or anything larger. The door pocket is small as well with the space of about 3 iPads stacked. To compensate for the shortcomings however, the glove compartment is as big as the Mulu Caves. You could probably get lost in there.
I tried slotting the gear lever in 1, didn’t feel too bad; the gear doesn’t feel rubbery and it feels precise. I feathered the throttle, and yes I really had to feather the throttle as the Grand Livina is equipped with the drive-by-wire system which is really sensitive to the amount of pressure you put on the happy pedal. After getting myself acquainted with the sensitive drive-by-wire, the Grand Livina a very nice drive. Its 1,598 cc twin-cam engine is rev happy and although the 105hp figure looks small for a 1,220 Kg car, it doesn’t feel as such. The 5 speed manual gearbox has ratios that are well suited for this engine size and as a result at speeds of 100 km/h, the engine revs at 3,000 rpm. Luckily, the noise insulation is pretty good as wind noise only intrudes into the cabin at 160km/h, the starting point where the engine feels out of breath.
As demonstrated by me (I’m 5ft 9), the last row of seats are strictly for children. Adults can fit, but only for short lunch trips out of office. The 2nd row passengers are cooled by air con vents just underneath the arm rest. The last row passengers however, have to rely on the vents from the dashboard. First of all, I personally think the round air con vents on both sides are an after thought as they don’t blend in with the square vents in the center. Secondly, the dashboard can be improved further with soft plastics, rather than hard plastics(Perhaps the hard plastics are made to withstand kids usage). The black fabric seats also attracts dust and magnifies them. Besides this, the stereo looks dated with its dials and switches, the driver’s seat is non-height adjustable and the 2nd row seat folding mechanism isn’t very user friendly. On the flip side, you need only pull a lever to get the last row seats down to get that extra space you need at the back.
How about the handling, you may ask? The Impul sports suspension system lowers the ride height by a whopping 25mm, making the Grand Livina a firm ride. The wishy-wallowey feel of a typical MPV is non-existent. The ride is not jarring despite having 17″ light weight alloys. Turning in corners higher speeds feels neutral, with minimal bodyroll and hint of controllable understeer. The standard fit of Goodyear Eagle F1 GSD3 tyres give it immense grip but disappointingly, the electric power steering saps feel off the road. The tyres are by far the best wet handling tyres fitted as standard equipment on any new car, especially useful for the unforgiving weather of late.
In summary, the Impul Grand Livina may not perform well as a full-on MPV but as a driver’s car, it is surprisingly good. The Impul Grand Livina would probably appeal to those who love to drive but at the same time, need a decent car to ferry the young family around. For RM 10,700 above the standard Grand Livina, your Impul Grand Livina will be fitted with the bodykit, 17″ alloy rims with the Eagle F1 tyres, sport suspensions and a sports muffler. Don’t worry about violating warranty either as Impul is officially available by Tan Chong Motors with all Impul tuned cars coming with a 3-year or 100,000 km warranty (which ever comes first).