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AMEYA DANDEKAR
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Testdrive Toyota Liva TRD Sportivo has its job cut out — spicing up Liva’s image and offering a decent performance

The idea behind the Liva TRD Sportivo was to infuse a dose of sportiness in the otherwise average buyer-targeted line-up, but this car isn’t just about a sporty body kit and fancy wheels. Toyota had earlier offered this car as a limited edition version. But this time around, the Sportivo comes with the more powerful 89bhp, 1.5-litre petrol motor from the Etios saloon and all the updates (apart from the beige interiors) that the regular Liva has just been given.

The motor is very responsive thanks to a healthy slug of low-end torque, and power delivery is quite linear. The mid-range is strong too and the engine pulls reasonably well, if not as enthusiastically as a Honda motor, to its redline. The 1.5 Sportivo motor is identically geared to the regular 1.2 Liva and the 1.5 Etios and hence the extra power makes the Sportivo feel a touch low geared. This has its benefits; the Sportivo is quick off the mark and darts to 60kph in a sprightly 4.79 seconds, which is a touch quicker than the Polo 1.6. It pulls cleanly from low speeds in almost any gear, and this makes it very easy to drive in the city. As a result, you don’t need to change gears frequently, and even if you do, you’ll love the five-speed gearbox’s light, short throws.

The Liva’s twin-cam motor is not the smoothest or the quietest around, but there are improvements to the Liva’s noise, vibration and harshness.

Still, a proper driver’s car is not just about performance, but also how entertaining it is from behind the wheel, and this is where the Sportivo’s distinctly non-sporty nature starts to show. Toyota hasn’t tweaked the bits that could have turned a capable hatch into a great driver’s car – namely the chassis, suspension, steering and brakes. The steering rack, for example, is low geared and has about four turns lock-to-lock, and the steering has a strange, inconsistent feel to the way it weighs up.

The suspension is a straight carryover from the regular Liva and doesn’t have the damping characteristics of a hot hatch. The larger 185/60 R15 tyres have improved grip but the Sportivo has a fair amount of body roll and a certain numbness in the handling that doesn’t encourage you to drive it quickly.

The ride is pretty decent on uneven surfaces. But there is less road and tyre noise now, thanks to the improved insulation, and the suspension feels quieter too.

The Sportivo tries to play the part with a body kit that includes sportier front and rear bumpers, side skirts, a rear spoiler and handsome smoked grey alloy wheels.

There are changes to the cabin too, namely that black dashboard and front seats that have the TRD Sportivo logo on them. It gets all the bells and whistles of a top-end V SP Liva, and that means the two-DIN audio system with USB and aux ports, power windows and two airbags. It doesn’t get climate control or powered mirrors though. Surprisingly, the Sportivo comes with a perfectly round steering wheel rather than the sportier-looking flat-bottomed wheel that the regular Liva gets.

What’s more, bigger engine means it doesn’t qualify for the government’s small car excise benefit, so it’s priced at Rs 6.13 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).

Sure, Sportivo’s performance is decent and it does look more attractive than the regular Liva, but these characteristics fail to hide the fact that the Liva is essentially a practical hatchback.

AMEYA DANDEKAR

Price

Rs 6.13 lakh

(ex-showroom, Delhi)

L/W/H3775/1695/1510mm

Wheelbase 2460mm

Engine

4 cyls in-line, 1496cc, petrol

Power 89bhp at 5600rpm

Torque 13.46kgm

at 3000rpm

Gearbox

5-speed manual

Brakes (f/r) Ventilated

discs/ drums

Tyre size

185/60 R15

Kerb weight925kg

Fuel tank capacity45 litres

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