Nissan has committed itself to affordable motoring in South Africa with the launch of its Livina. Yes, the name might be a bit weird but it is car that makes a lot of sense.
And if you in the market for affordable family wheels, the Livina is definitely worth a second look.
The Livina is a "global car" for Nissan, specially developed for emerging markets, and it is locally produced too.
It shares its genes with the Nissan Tiida and only one engine choice, a 1.6-litre petrol unit, is available.
Whereas the volume-selling Tiida is a favourite among rental and fleet buyers, Nissan says that the Livina is actually targeting consumers looking for a practical, reliable and affordable vehicle.
The Livina is a 5-door hatch with MPV-like styling - very similar to that of the Toyota Avanza, which is also its main rival.
Nissan's offering is available as a 5 and a 7-seater, with the latter being badged as the Grand Livina.
The Livina Visia and Acenta have 14-inch steel wheels while the Livina Acenta+ and Grand Livina are equipped with 15-inch alloy wheels.
The 5-seater Livina line-up includes three derivatives: Visia, Acenta and Acenta+. The Grand Livina 7-seater is available in the Acenta with fabric interior and the Acenta+ with leather interior.
The 1.6-litre engine produces 80 kW at 6 000 r/min and 153 Nm 4 400 r/min.
A 52-litre fuel tank provides substantial cruising distance and Nissan claims a combined cycle fuel consumption of 7.2 litres/100 km for the 5-seater and 7.4 litre/100 km for bigger model.
The vehicle comes with a 5-speed manual transmission and power steering.
The Livina is all about being spacious. There is more than ample space for four adults while the the rear seats split 60/40.
The Grand Livina offers two extra seats in a third row which can accommodate small kids.
Comfort and convenience features include in-dash radio with CD player, electric windows and air-conditioning on all models except the entry-level Visia derivative.
Driver airbags come standard on all Livina models, and the Acenta and Acenta+ models also have a passenger airbag.
Other safety features include a high mounted brake light and front seat belt pre-tensioners.
Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake-force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist are standard on the Acenta and Acenta+ models.
For families with a tight budget, the Livina makes a lot of sense. Not only is it practical but the 1.6-litre engine offers enough punch too.
Also the Livina range, except for the entry-level Visia model, comes with a 3 year / 60 000km service plan.
Furthermore the overall fit and finish seems durable. Although it might not look like as exciting as a 350Z, the Livina's design is clean-cut hinting at its versatile nature - it is after all a compact family wagon.
However, like the 350Z, which is great at being a sports car, the Livina promises to be a worthy contender in its segment too.
Don't let the funny name scare you off, as the Livina really offers a lot of car for your money.
Livina 1.6 Visia: R115 550
Livina 1.6 Acenta: R129 950
Livina 1.6 Acenta+: R136 950
Grand Livina 1.6 Acenta: R146 950
Grand Livina 1.6 Acenta+: R155 950