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Nissan Micra

1 Apr 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Nissan Micra
Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

What we liked

More rounded line-up

More mature styling; better equipment levels

Same competitive pricing

Not so much

1.2 model will accommodate city duties only

… And long wait for supercharged version

No cruise control

OVERVIEW

Big things from small packages

The fourth generation of Nissan’s popular micro car stands to do better than all previous comers. Rather than simply a cheap, mostly compromised (for local buyers at least) option, Nissan Australia has taken its smallest offering more seriously this time. And expects serious sales to result.

Nissan Australia is on a quest to become our biggest importer; aiming to overtake Mazda and Honda by 2013 and increase sales by 70 per cent. A significant portion of those extra sales will come from the new Micra’s efforts alone, according to Nissan Australia MD Dan Thompson. In fact, the company expects to more than double Micra’s best-ever monthly tally (in June this year, while in run-out. ) to around 2000.

That’s a big ask, but despite being offered only with automatic transmission and one engine option the K12 Micra has been a strong seller locally.

The new lineup will be available from December 1, with manual or auto and a choice of two engine options; both claiming competitive output and consumption figures.

PRICE AND EQUIPMENT

Seeing through new specs

Starting price for the new five-door hatch is less than the outgoing K12 model, simply because the range now includes an entry-spec manual offering.

Now with three specification levels and auto or manual options, the new Micra lineup starts at $12,990 for the five-speed manual 1.2-litre model or $14,990 with four-speed automatic transmission. The mid (ST-L) and higher (Ti) spec models are equipped with the 1.5-litre four-cylinder, for $14,990 and $16,990 respectively. Like the ST, add $2000 for the autos.

Along with more mature styling, the new Micra is equipped with ‘grown-up’ features more commonly added to cars in larger, more expensive segments. The proximity key for the Ti-spec models, for example, is nice for a sub-$20K option and the (range-wide) standard-fit Bluetooth and trip computer are decent adds. Consumption can be displayed as a rolling L/100km or a by-trip overall consumption figure.

The driver info system will also remind you of anniversaries and birthdays.

Base-model Micras have aircon and good safety kit (see below) but only the front windows are electrically operated; a common fit in bargain baby cars. Stepping up to the ST-L means power windows all around, and auto (low-light activated) headlights.

Ti upgrades include reversing sensors, passenger-seat storage space for a (small) handbag or laptop, foglights and electric folding mirrors.

MECHANICAL

Two choices; both frugal

The range now includes two engine options and, helpfully, the choice of manual or continuously variable transmission.

The 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine is all-new. According to Nissan’s figures, the 56kW/100Nm triple uses 5.9L/100km if equipped with the manual or 6.5L/100km with automatic. The results have earned Nissan its first five-star Green Vehicle Guide rating.

The 75kW/136Nm four-cylinder engine wants 6.5L/100km with manual or 6.6L/100km with auto.

A more powerful, direct injection supercharged three-cylinder unit is also under consideration for the local range but it will not be released until 2011. The supercharged engine has 72kW power and 142Nm torque, and Nissan claims emissions will be below 100g/km.

ST models come with 14-inch steel wheels; the ST-L gets 15-inch versions and the top-spec Ti runs on 15-inch alloys. Full-size spares come standard across all grades.

Micra’s suspension — strut front end and rear torsion beam — was tuned to cope with both the smooth roads of Europe and the sometimes rough conditions of [Nissan’s] emerging markets. Apparently accommodating new(ish) frontiers for Nissan like India also works well for Australian road conditions.

PACKAGING

Space savings

The fourth-generation Micra uses an all-new ‘V’ (for versatile) platform designed for extra efficiencies (fuel consumption and production) via weight savings and reduction in parts complexity, which in turn has reduced production costs.

The platform follows the first shared B-segment version used by the K12 Micra and Tiida, and the co-produced (Renault-Nissan Alliance) C-segment platform for Dualis, Megane and Koleos. Australian-delivered Micras will be built in Thailand.

New Micra is longer than the previous model (by 61mm) and slightly (5mm) wider. The roof uses boomerang shaped contours that serve as a unique styling feature and help to reduce cabin resonance, while a built-in lip spoiler was included for better aerodynamics. The car’s underbody was also designed for maximum downforce and optimum airflow.

Other aims for the maker included best-in-class passenger space and visibility. Engineers also reduced the number of parts required to lower weight and improve efficiency. New Micra’s tare weight is 942kg; over 20kg less than the previous model if fitted with the auto.

Nissan claims boot space is 251 litres. The cargo floor is low and the area well-shaped — square-edged and without side intrusions.

Nissan Micra

SAFETY

No option

Regardless of spec level all Micra models come standard with front passenger airbags, curtain and side airbags, and (front) seatbelt pretensioners.

Nissan’s version of electronic stability control — called Vehicle Dynamic Control — and anti-lock brakes are also standard across the range.

COMPETITORS

Small cars, big crowd

There’s a choice of over a dozen options in the light car segment, ranging from the neglected Mitsubishi Colt and bargain buys like Suzuki Alto and Proton Savvy, up to segment stalwarts like Toyota Yaris, Honda Jazz and Hyundai Getz.

Lately favourites include Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2; both well-equipped and stylish. But at this price level and with this scope of choice, buyers have the best of both worlds and can decide on spend limit and ‘must-haves’. The Fiesta’s voice-activated multimedia control, for example, makes a strong argument but so does the Micra Ti’s keyless entry.

ON THE ROAD

. and in the carpark

Nissan makes much ado about the Micra’s best-in-class (4.5m) turning circle. The local guys and gals organised two floors of carpark in Melbourne’s CBD and set up an excellent ‘Micrakhana’ course with a figure eight, reverse and parallel parking tests, a slalom run and fun mini-course to replicate trying to find a space among the crowd at Christmas time.

Even a few of Melbourne’s notoriously narrow and colourful laneways were thrown in, but the Micra easily manoeuvred its way around the tightest (90 degree, night cart. ) corners. Small goods courier companies, take note.

This confined, city territory is where light cars like Micra shine. However, taking the 1.2-litre version for a run slightly outside and hillside — in our case just out of Toorak — exposed the smaller model’s lack of power to cope with two adults up front; at least while matched to the auto. The manual will offer better control in instances like hills and overtaking if transport requirements extend beyond city limits.

Nissan’s three-cylinder offering at least idles smoothly. Suzuki’s Alto, on the other hand, will rock you at the lights like it’s got a lumpy cam. Both have reasonable reach in low to mid-range power but the Suzuki has longer legs.

It’s about horses (ponies?) for courses here.

The 1.5-litre Micra models will suit most buyers better. We took a Ti auto from the launch and it’s been efficient and comfortable from city to suburbs, especially over highway runs. Notably absent, however, is cruise control even at this level.

Passenger space — front to rear — is generous in terms of head and legroom, allowing room for growing children. Low-set windows make for good outward-vision and the driver has a good view of all corners of the car and surrounds.

We liked the previous Micra and don’t doubt there are some fans ready to upgrade. The fact that Nissan Australia is offering more reason for K12 owners to step-up to the new model should perpetuate sales among loyalists while the widened lineup will attract small car shoppers sizing up other, less extensive options.

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Published. Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Nissan Micra
Nissan Micra
Nissan Micra
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