What's New?

Unlike many other new cars that usually replace an existing model, the Latio is a new name to Nissan. While we are told that it is not a direct replacement to the long-serving Sunny (a new model is planned) the Latio, which is meant to sit just below the well-known sedan, comfortably fills its shoes for now.

Aside from being similar in size to the current Sunny or Sentra, it has a list of standard features that would embarrass many more expensive self-proclaimed luxury cars. Take its intelligent key system for example, like the Keyless Go system first seen on the more expensive Mercedes-Benz models, Nissan's equivalent works in much the same way, letting the driver lock and unlock the doors or even start the engine without needing to fish the key from a pocket or handbag.

This keyless system works beautifully and is thoroughly idiot proof. We tried to 'fool' system by trying to lock the car with the key still in it. But in every one of our 'scenarios' the Latio kept its windscreen intact by refusing to lock us out.

Other notable features on Nissan's compact family car include a 'Clean Ion' climate control air-conditioning system that apparently charges the cooled cabin air with negative ions which is supposed to be good for you.

All but the base model also get upholstery in a combination of leather and suede-like Alcantara which not only feels good but keeps its occupants from sliding in theirs seats if the driver gets too enthusiastic in his driving.

Although the Latio scores highly on the feature count, its exterior design leaves something to be desired. Opt for the hatchback variant, the Latio Sport however, and the car's proportions are much better resolved with a more contemporary stance. With the same features as the sedan, the Sport manages to offer more style, without forsaking any of its substance.

How It Performs
Animated by a 1.5-litre engine, the Latio is available with either a five-speed manual or Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). With the latter, no one expects the Latio to be a sports car but in reality is deceptively spritely as its superb noise insulation and refinement does a good job of hiding its surprising pace.

Approach three-figure speeds and the Latio Sport turns in a much better composed ride than the sedan as it feels more stable in places where its sibling started to 'float'.


How It Stacks Up
By now you might be able to tell that we'd pick the Latio Sport over the sedan anytime. This choice is also made easier knowing that it more than makes up for the obvious deficit in boot space with a rear bench that slides fore and aft to offer more legroom or cargo space. For good measure the rear backrests also split and fold in a 60:40 ratio for longer loads.

With this versatility, generous appointment, decent styling - and significantly - keen pricing, it's easy to see why we're tempted to call this small car the

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