“Mutation, it is the key to our evolution” as a famous quote by Professor X from the X-Men comic book fame describes the meaning of being different from others. But put it in an automotive perspective, it has given us with some stunning designs and out-of-the box offerings by manufacturers and to the downright ugly.
Manufacturers have a hit-and-miss affair with these unconventional designs and ideas but nevertheless an important direction to look at as it probably would create an offering that has never been thought of or creating a whole new market segment in itself.
In essence, the Nissan Grand Livina X-gear is not to be said a mutant but more of an evolution from your normal soccer-mom Nissan Grand Livina as the Nissan Grand Livina X-Gear is targeted for those with a more active lifestyle and preferably for those who have some unconventional luggage in tow rather than kids.
With that in mind, the Livina X-gear proves to be a somewhat useful tool for an assignment to shoot at the Sepang F1 circuit for the Summernats.
You will know from the exterior of the Livina X-gear that you are going in with a different mind-set. This can be said as the car is targeted as a cross-over of sorts as the car seems to be a little off-putting with the dark plastic mouldings on the bumpers, doors, wheel arches and side skirts with guards on the front and back bumper.
But this seems to throw a more rugged perception to the X-Gear and at certain angles it does show the part. The roof rails available is also not for show as it does have the ability to carry items not less than 25kg. Perfect to carry bicycles or odd cargo on top.
As the X-Gear is aimed for those who want an active lifestyle it therefore foregoes the seating arrangement of the family friendly Grand Livina in favour of a more ‘single’-minded arrangement of 5 seats. For our assignment, we have to lug quite a heavy load of camera equipment and with 4 people in tow, the X-Gear copes quite well with the task that is given no thanks to the extended legroom afforded by the deletion of the 2 additional seats out back as in the standard Nissan Grand Livina.
Also with the adjusted seating arrangement it afforded a more spacious boot space. Perfect for our little escapade on the hilly side-lines of the Sepang F1 circuit for our assignment.
Another plus points that we did not manage to try on is it retains the flexible seating arrangement of the Grand Livina it is based on. One gripe that we found out is that the seating at the back is a bit on the hard side and has an upright position but otherwise legroom at the back and headroom is more than adequate for most Malaysian-sized occupants.
In-car entertainment is best described as just basic by modern standards with inclusion of Bluetooth pairing, single USB jack and AUX function.
Getting behind the wheel of the X-Gear is somewhat a comfortable experience but it should be noted that the X-Gear is using the same engine and transmission as the base Grand Livina. The combination of 1,598 cc and 4-speed automatic transmission is adequate for city driving and it must be said that it does provide some sprightly acceleration for the stop-start traffic that is prevalent in city driving.
This may be due to the lesser weight it has to carry around due to the shortening of the wheelbase and seats to carry around than the standard Grand Livina. While it is dubbed a crossover because it shares the chassis with the Grand Livina it has a driving position that is akin to a normal saloon car and that makes it easier for anybody to adapt to while the suspension is able to absorb most choppy surfaces that Malaysian roads have to offer.
Steering while feeling a bit disconnected it provides enough feedback and easy adaptability and manoeuvrability in tight spaces thanks to the electric steering that is commonplace in city cars nowadays. On the open road it can be quite a nervy affair if you are pushing the car too hard on the corners or registering illegal speeds.
This can be evidently seen as on our assignment to cover the Summernats in Sepang we are quite late to the track therefore haste is the name of the day and highway speeds of more than the legal limit is while attainable it is quite a disconcerting affair as the steering is rather light as we travel to the upper levels of the speedometer.
As the highway to the Sepang track is filled with unexpected and undulating bumps it does cause some alarm as the car jumps about but this is understandable as the car’s suspension is tuned towards comfortable and supple driving and plus we are putting way more stresses on the chassis and drivetrain than the normal X-Gear driver put in.
With the sum of all its part, the X-Gear proved to be a spacious car to be in with more than adequate room to look forward to. A plus point is the price which arrives at RM 89,800 it will provide a different proposition to anybody who is considering a supermini or a city car to run around with which usually is placed in this price bracket.
It has the space of an MPV, a driving experience like a car and a drivetrain that is proven and reliable for your daily commutes with the price of a supermini. What is there stopping you to consider the mutant X-Gear as a left-field candidate the next time you consider for a run-around car.
Photos: Qhalis Najmi | Mursi