Nissan Micra - Introduction
It was 4 years ago that Nissan launched the Micra in India. The Micra was more than just the first product from Nissan; it was the spearhead the company was banking on to lead its fight for market share. Squarely in the Micra’s sights was none other than the Maruti-Suzuki Swift, the unchallenged king of the supermini segment. The Micra always had a lot going for it, from good built quality and Japanese reliability, a fuel-efficient petrol engine (a diesel joined the range soon after) and a fast-expanding dealer network. Despite all the right ingredients, the Micra never found the sales numbers it richly deserved. Now however, with Nissan having addressed the Micra’s one valid criticism – the designed by committee approach was always fraught with pitfalls – can this car stage a fight back? Read on for our exhaustive car review of the new Nissan Micra.
Nissan Micra - Design & Engineering
Cheesy puns aside, the original Micra was a bit of a queer one. Was it intended to look retro? Was it going to spark a trend? Was it merely functional? Was that the cheapest way to press sheet metal? Did somebody actually think it was cool? Whatever the answer, the fact of the matter remains that the Nissan Micra didn’t quite strike the right note. Indeed, it sounds fickle to criticise a car’s looks as the reason for it not selling strongly, but it WAS a significant contributing factor.
Recognising this, Nissan must be commended for working hard to identify a solution. The new Micra, as you can see from these pictures, has been substantially revised. The headlights, front grille, front bumper and bonnet of the Micra are all new. Yes, the broader overtones are still reminiscent of the original design, but Nissan has successfully avoided making the new Micra look like something of a mish-mash. Looks are subjective, as always, so I’ll leave the final judgement to you, dear reader.
At the rear too, there has been a slight alteration in the tail lamp lenses, while the rear hatch has been given a lower lip which meets the rear bumper. This design serves two purposes – one functional and the other aesthetic. The prominent shutline adds a little character, while alleviating the heavy-bottomed look of the earlier version, and indeed many other hatchbacks, while also providing for a lower loading point for the boot. This is a marvellous example of ‘smart design’.
The rest of the exterior is as on the original. The Micra continues to use the same platform as the earlier car. This ‘V’ (for versatile) platform has seen some tweaks, which are aimed at improving the NVH levels of the Micra. The lightweight build is both energy efficient and cost effective to produce, but the trade-off was made in terms of refinement. With customers being ever more picky, Nissan has made some changes, including additional sound deadening material around the bulkhead, firewall, and thicker carpeting for the floor. Chief Product Engineer Takada was reticent to share too many details about the same, but a slight improvement was discernible on our drive.
Nissan has carried forward the familiar 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol and Renault-sourced 1.5-litre diesel engines, but has added the option of a CVT automatic to the range. The CVT is only available with the petrol engine however.
Nissan Micra - Interiors & Comfort
Nissan has expended some effort on the interiors of the new Micra as well. The Micra borrows elements from the centre console of the Nissan Sunny sedan, noticeably the square vents on the centre console. Nissan has rationalised the variant offerings on the Micra, dropping the base XE variant which was offered previously. The XL, XL (O) and XV are the three variants now offered. The XV variant gets glossy piano black trim on the centre console, while the XL and XL (O) make do with matte black. There’s a dull silver surround to the centre console as well, and these help alleviate the ‘greige’ in the cabin. The ‘greige’ has always been a pet peeve, since I believe merging two relatively anonymous colours such as grey and beige, and then coining a word like ‘greige’ is simply stupid. Anyway, the new Micra’s interiors are better, so I’m happy.
All three variants come with a driver’s airbag as standard, while the XV adds a front passenger airbag too. Strangely, it is the XV variant that gets a twin glovebox. The XL and XL (O) variants suffer an ill-fitting dummy plastic cover that deducts from utility. When asked why the twin glovebox isn’t offered on these variants, Nissan’s official spokesperson claimed it was a variant differentiator. I’m not convinced, and I think Nissan can and should reconsider this aspect before they launch the car.
The Nissan’s seats aren’t heavily bolstered, with relatively thin padding, which saves weight while also liberating some more cabin room. They might not appear to be the most comfortable at first, but in this case appearances are deceptive. The Micra actually proves quite comfortable to sit in, front or rear, and a long day spent in the car saw me emerge none the worse for wear.
Nissan has finally addressed one major oversight – not offering USB and Bluetooth connectivity. Today, anybody buying a premium hatchback probably has a smartphone, which is a fair assumption to make. This customer also probably carries his or her music around on a portable music player or USB stick. To not offer these features in the market while all your competitors do can sometimes be a deal-breaker. Sounds extreme, but for potential buyers who scan features list before actually stepping into a showroom or calling for a test drive, Nissan have only been doing themselves a disservice all these years.
We’re happy to report that our Bluetooth device synched instantly and easily, and music output through the four speakers was good enough. Not as good as the Figo though, which still sets the benchmark for factory-fitted stereo sound quality.
The USB and AUX jacks are located on the dashboard, just above the glovebox. There’s a convenient slot for your smartphone/iPod next to it, although plugging and unplugging your device can be a challenge if you have stubby fingers.
Nissan Micra - Performance & Handling
The Micra has always been a competent driver. It goes about its business in an unassuming manner, without any sporting pretensions, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised just how capable this car actually is. The 1.2-litre three-cylinder motor pulls reasonably well, even with four adults on board and the AC running. The Micra’s engine may not have the same sweetness as Suzuki’s K-series engine, but it doesn’t suffer any flatspots in the power band either. The Micra feels as quick if not quicker than most of its competition, and its three-cylinder engine feels light-years more refined than the 1.2-litre three-pot in the VW Polo. We drove both the manual and CVT-equipped versions of the petrol Micra. This CVT or continuously variable transmission is the same planetary gear solution used in the larger Sunny, dubbed X-Tronic by Nissan. Nissan claims the CVT-equipped Micra is more fuel-efficient than the manual.
For most driving, the CVT responds reasonably well, especially from closed to part-throttle, but it’s when you need more power in a hurry, like overtaking on a two-lane highway for example, that this gearbox displays its shortcomings. Despite there being a ‘sport’ button which adds 1,000 revs, the Micra never feels quite as good as its manual sibling. In contrast, the manual Micra is quite a revelation on the highway. Making good use of third gear will see you easily overtake most slower-moving traffic.
There is a discernible difference between how the Micra drives on 14-inch and 15-inch wheels. We drove both, and it is my opinion that the larger wheel size makes a big difference, for the better. The car rolls on its tyres less, while the slightly wider footprint improves grip too. This comes at no expense to ride quality, and I think Nissan should make 15-inches the default wheel size for the Micra. The EU versions of this car have 16-inch wheels as an option, which might not be practical on our roads, but 15-inch wheels are optimum.
Nissan Micra - Fuel Efficiency
Nissan claims the manual petrol version of the Micra will give 17 km/l, while the CVT is actually better at 18 km/l. The diesel Micra, powered by the Renault-sourced K9 diesel engine, will manage 22 km/l. These are ARAI figures, mind, so in the real world you’re likely to get less. We have had the pleasure of driving a Micra for a while though, and can happily report that it is very fuel efficient in the real world as well, regularly managing over 12 km/l in city traffic with the AC on all the time. On the highway, the petrol Micra manages 18 km/l quite easily.
Nissan Micra - Safety
Nissan offers a driver’s side airbag as standard on the Micra, even on the entry-level XL variant. ABS with EBD and a front passenger airbag are offered on the pricier XV variant.
Nissan Micra - Verdict
The new Micra has a clear mandate – to win more sales for Nissan. This is a great product, one that unashamedly benchmarks the hot-selling Maruti Swift. The much-improved looks, option of a CVT gearbox and a diesel variant as well, means that the Micra offers a reasonably broad choice. There are new colours as well, and the better interiors help the baby Nissan’s case too. There’s absolutely nothing to detract from this car as a complete product. The cabin has real usable space, as does the boot, and there are enough toys to keep the geeky gadget brigade happy. (no Bluetooth or USB all these years was a real oversight, to be frank).
As always, much will depend on the Micra’s pricing. Nissan clearly wants to position the Micra as a more upmarket product, duelling with the likes of the Swift, Polo and Hyundai i20, rather than the lower end of the market, which includes the Ritz and Figo. This is a risky strategy, no doubt, but if Nissan can pull it off, it will be better for it. Remember, there is no bargain basement variant bereft of features to meet a big-bang launch price, unlike what some competitors offer.
Somebody once said that marketing and sales are all about the Four P’s – Product, Price, Promotion and Placement. Nissan has got the first P right, but it’s the other P’s that play a big part in making the car a success ultimately. Customers have raised criticisms against the dealer experience as well, which is something Nissan has taken cognisance of and is seeking to rectify.
We expect the official launch and price announcement soon, but if you’re in the market for a well-rounded hatchback, pun intended, the Micra is well worth considering.
Nissan Micra - Competition Check
|Length x Width x Height (mm)||3825 x 1665 x 1530 (petrol), 3825 x 1665 x 1525 (diesel)|
|Ground clearance (mm)||154 (petrol), 150 (diesel)|
|Turning circle dia (m)||4.65|
|Fuel tank capacity (lt)||41|
|Boot space (lt)||251|
|Engine & Transmission|
|No of cylinder & configuration||3-cylinder in-line petrol; 4-cylinder in-line diesel|
|Valvetrain||12 valve (petrol), 8 valve (diesel)|
|Capacity (cc)||1198 (petrol), 1461 (diesel)|
|Power (PS @ rpm)||76 @ 6000 (petrol), 77 @ 6000 (CVT), 64 @ 4000 (diesel)|
|Torque (Nm @ rpm)||104 @ 4000 (petrol), 104 @ 4400 (CVT), 160 @ 2000 (diesel)|
|Gearbox||5-speed manual, CVT (auto)|
|Suspension & Brakes|
|Front suspension||Mcpherson Strut|
|Rear suspension||Torsion Beam|
|Front brakes||Ventilated Disc|
|Wheels & Tyres|
|Tyre size and type||165/70R14 (petrol), 175/60 R15 (diesel)|
|Wheel size and type||14X5.5J Steel (petrol), 15X5.5J Alloy (diesel)|
Nissan’s second made-in-India product, the new Sunny sedan. The new Nissan Sunny is global car, and will be sold in 170 countries around the world. Indian production will be exported to the Middle East, Africa and Europe.
The soon-to-be-launched Nissan Evalia is the third made-in-India vehicle from the Japanese manufacturer, after the Micra hatchback and the Sunny sedan. With the Evalia, Nissan hopes to tackle the lucrative MPV/MUV segment in the country, which is displaying robust growth.
The Nissan Sunny is the company’s second Indian made vehicle and forms an important part of the company’s product portfolio. First to arrive was the petrol variant in September 2011 and in less than three months, the company launched the diesel variant keeping in tune with the market demand and rising petrol prices across the globe.
There is little doubt that the Micra hatchback is perhaps the most important car among Nissan’s product line in India. We got behind the wheel of the Nissan Micra Petrol XV and drove it down Rajarhat to discover has got what it takes to topple some of its more established competitors. Read on to find out what we found out.
After the success of Nissan Micra petrol, the Japanese auto manufacturer followed it with the launch of the diesel version of the Micra hatchback, utilizing the popular 1.5-litre dCi diesel from the Renault Pulse.
The Micra always had a lot going for it, from good built quality and Japanese reliability, a fuel-efficient petrol engine (a diesel joined the range soon after) and a fast-expanding dealer network. Despite all the right ingredients, the Micra never found the sales numbers it richly deserved. Now however, with Nissan having addressed the Micra’s one valid criticism – the designed by committee approach was always fraught with pitfalls – can this car stage a fight back?
We told you Nissan would make its own version of Alliance partner Renault’s popular Duster SUV for the Indian market over a year ago. Well, we finally get to drive it. Here’s the lowdown on this new compact SUV, which is sure to shake up this increasingly-crowded segment a little more.
Three years after it was launched, Nissan has revamped the Sunny. While the most obvious changes are to the exterior styling and interior appointments, it has numerous changes which are more than skin deep. We get behind the wheel in Port Blair to bring you this in-depth road test of the new Nissan Sunny.
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