The new Nissan Latio has arrived on our local shores a few months ago, and has redefined the B-class economy sedan segment somewhat. We are very used to the baseline Japanese models having 1.5 litre engines as with the Vios and the City, but the Nissan Latio comes with 1.6 litre and 1.8 litre, the same engine displacements that the Nissan Sentra previously was offered with.
So is the Latio a Sentra replacement or a Vios/City competitor? With an interior space that matches the size of the larger Accord-class Nissan Teana, it may seem possible at first to think of the Latio as going up against the Altis and the Civic with a price tag advantage of being under RM100,000, but when I got into the car for the first time it suddenly became quite apparent this is a B-segment car.
This is because of little things like the lack of a steering wheel with adjustable reach, which made the driving position slightly awkward for me. I also had this problem with the new Toyota Vios, so perhaps B-segment cars are really not for people of my physique. The good news is we will see a proper Sentra replacement soon in the form of the Nissan Bluebird Sylphy.
Then again I got to thinking about the rest of the car’s specification levels which exceeded the typical B-segment car. There is genuine keyless entry and keyless start as well as xenon HID headlamps for the top spec model. The wood finish looks rather interesting as it does not look like the typical cheapo shiny fake wood found in cars of this price level. The seats are very large and are quite comfortable. This same cushiony material is also used on the arm rests, so basically most parts of the interior that you come in contact with feels more expensive than the car really is. This special care taken to ensure the passengers feel happy is becoming increasingly rare at cars of this price level. You get the beige-ish interior with the Latio and the black interior with silver trim for the Latio Sport. I much prefer the black interior.
My driving impression of the new Nissan Latio was limited to a drive up to Penang and around the streets of Penang. The Latios that we drove displayed very much above average sound insulation during our highway drive, but I noticed that the engine growl was rather loud, though this was most probably in comparison to how impressively silent the rest of the car was.
The chassis must also be rather well sorted as I felt the car tackled bends quite well with just the right amount of steering weight to make it more effortless for the driver to point the car where he wants it to go. I think that if a family man who enjoys spirited driving once in a while but finds himself in the position of having to buy a sedan under RM100k should seriously consider this car. Not much steering feedback but this is a family sedan and typically steering feedback will be interpreted as bad NVH by those who are not really into driving enjoyment. Quite decent for a car with a torsion beam rear suspension, but then again the modern torsion beam rear suspension can be tuned to handle rather well as proven with the European Honda Civic hatchback.
The gearbox is smooth and downshifts are particularly impressive as you do not feel any jerk at all during kickdown. But there was one thing that both my partner and I (we were two to a car up to Penang and back) noticed, that there was no noticable difference between the 1.6 litre CVVT engine and 1.8 litre CVVT engine’s performance.
This might be due to the fact that the 1.6 litre (109 PS at 6,000rpm and 153Nm of torque at 4,400rpm) is more stroke-biased while the 1.8 litre (126 PS at 5,200rpm and 174Nm of torque at 4,800rpm) is a revvy bore-biased engine, so the torque levels of both engines combined with an automatic gearbox felt quite similiar. The 1.8 litre might feel alot more spritely with a manual gearbox that can be pushed to higher revs than an auto, but sadly the manual is only offered on the 1.6 litre.
Nissan Latio 1.6 ST (A) â€“ RM87,945.50
Nissan Latio 1.6 ST (M) â€“ RM82,189.50
Nissan Latio 1.6 ST-L (A) â€“ RM92,929.50
Nissan Latio 1.8 Ti (A) â€“ RM99,957.90
Nissan Latio Sport 1.6L (A) â€“ RM94,801.50