Nissan Micra review | carsguide.com.au | Catalog-cars

Nissan Micra review | carsguide.com.au

1 Oct 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Nissan Micra review | carsguide.com.au
Nissan Micra

Nissan Micra

review

Nissan’s Jeffrey Fisher says the Micra’s three-pot unit is quiet and smooth around town. Photo Gallery

Mark Hinchliffe and Craig Duff road test and review the new Nissan Micra.

THREE-cylinder cars will be the way of the future. That’s Nissan’s thinking with the introduction of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder model to the expanded new Micra model range.

Nissan corporate communications manager Jeffrey Fisher believes there will be no problem selling the concept of a three-cylinder car.

We don’t see it as an issue. Quite the opposite in fact, he says. We’re getting the type of power from a three as we were getting from a four just a few years ago. It’s the way of the future.

Fisher says it will be a competitor to Suzuki’s three-cylinder Alto, but points out the Alto is a smaller four-seater, while the Micra is a five-seater. The new Thai-made Micra is also larger than before, being longer, wider, lower and lighter.

Fisher says the three-cylinder model will contribute substantially to almost quadrupling monthly sales to about 1500 or 18,000 in a full year.

Micra is a key product for us, he says.

The current Micra only comes in one model: five-door, four-speed auto, 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine hatchback for $15,990 with a city edition featuring extra features for $17,990.

The new Micra comes with a choice of two engines, two transmissions and three trim grades. It starts with the ST 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, five-speed manual at $12,990, a bargain compared with the Suzuki Alto GLX at $14,490. There are also two 1.5-litre four-cylinder models.

The ST-L is listed at $14,990 and the Ti $16,990.

All three models come standard with Bluetooth connectivity, on-board computer with a gimmicky anniversary reminder, airconditioning, remote entry and tilt-adjustable steering. You can also get a four-speed auto in each model for an extra $2000. The Ti adds smart key, push button start/stop, climate control airconditioning, reversing sensors, 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights.

More choice will lift sales, Fisher says. With the previous model we had a dusty pink colour called London Rose and unabashedly went after the younger female market. But we saw was a trend beginning that will be even stronger now that we’ll get more and more interest from single women, blokes and all sorts of other age groups including retirees.

This will appeal across a broader section and age group.

The story here is the three-cylinder engine which is the first Nissan to get a five-star rating in the Green Vehicles Guide. Nissan claims the 56kW 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine achieves 5.9-litres per 100km and emits 138g/km of CO2 in manual (6.5l/100km and 154g/km auto). This compares with the Alto’s 50kW 1-litre engine which sips just 4.8 litres/100km.

However, the Alto is fairly rough and coarse, while Fisher says the Micra’s three-pot unit is quiet and smooth around town. Obviously if you get it out on the highway the noise levels increase, he says.

The manual 75kW 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol model has economy figures of 6.5l/100km and CO2 of 153g/km (6.6l/100km, 156g/km auto). It hardly features as technology, but women will love the clever storage area in the front passenger seat squab which can be flipped forward, providing a secure place to store a handbag.

It’s lower and the wheels have been pushed further toward the corners, making this look more like a skateboard than a car. Its shape has also been smoothed out for a more aerodynamic look that also reduces its drag rating to 0.32.

Despite the designers fiddling around the edges, it is still immediately identifiable as a Micra with its high-mounted bug-eyed headlights and rounded roofline. It walks a fine line between being cute and comical.

Every new vehicle now features electronic stability control and there are cars on the road without ABS or six airbags. The new Micra adds electronic brake force distribution and brake assist. While it hasn’t been crash tested yet, the current Micra only rates a three-star ANCAP crash rating compared with the Suzuki’s four stars.

The Micra faces a big ask – the price spread of $12,990 to $18,990 has it competing against the likes of the Suzuki Alto in the sub-light class right up to the Mazda2 and Ford Fiesta in the light car category. It isn’t as refined as the Mazda and Ford inside or out, but is clearly ahead of the Suzuki on looks and appointments.

The outgoing version’s love it or hate it looks, have been toned down for this model – and that may work against the little Nissan. Existing owners are passionate about their car, but the new look has been diluted – probably by the wind tunnel. It still has the bug-eyed front, but so does the Alto and the styling doesn’t turn heads, for better or worse, like the Noddy car did.

Climb inside and there’s a reassuring sense of solidity to the car. The rotary dials on the centre console are easy to use and the overall build quality is right up there. The seats are nothing special, but there were no complaints from three passengers on a 70km test run.

The rear seats will take three small teens, but only a sadist will load up three adults for extended runs.

The mid-spec ST-L mid-range model tested by Carsguide packs the 1.5-litre engine, 15-inch steel rims, auto headlights and power windows that aren’t found on the base model.

The engine is a perfect match for the Mazda2 powerplant on paper. In the rear world it’s a willing performer across the rev range and at typical freeway speeds is quiet and responsive enough to encourage overtaking.

Urgent driving will evoke some engine roar and has the four-speed auto working overtime in tighter turns as it tries to match cogs with engine speeds, but the Micra isn’t aimed at track day specialists.

Nissan is rightly proud of the Micra’s suspension. It’s firmer than many rivals in this class but handles corrugations and speed bumps with minimal fuss. If things do go pear-shaped, there’s standard stability control and ABS with brakeforce distribution to get you back on track.

It’s a competent performer in most areas, but won’t challenge the Mazda2 for dynamics or the Fiesta for finesse.

7/10

Prices . ST 1.2L $12,990 (man), $14,990 (auto); ST-L 1.5L $14,990 (man), $16,990 (auto); Ti 1.5L $16,990-$18,990

Engines . 1.2 litre, 3-cylinder; 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder

Power . 56kW (1.2L); 75kW (1.5L)

Torque . 100Nm (1.2L); 136Nm (1.5L)

Transmissions . 5-speed manual, 4-speed automatic

Dimensions (mm): 3780 (l), 1665 (w), 1525 (h), 2435 (wheelbase), 116 (clearance)

CO2 (g/km): 138 (1.2L man), 154 (1.2L auto); 153 (1.5L man), 156 (1.5L auto)

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