Nissan Micra


Debut: 2017
Maker: Nissan
Predecessor: March/Micra (2010)



 Published on 12 Jan 2017
All rights reserved. 


The 5th generation Micra is striking enough to compensate for our loss of faith in the past 7 years.

We were deeply disappointed with the last generation Nissan Micra/March. After the very stylish Mk3, to which we awarded Styling of the Year in 2003, the Mk4 suddenly switched to a boring design. Its build quality, materials and features were also downgraded noticeably as its production was shifted to Thailand and India. It seemed like Nissan simply rebadged a car originally designed for developing countries and exported it to Europe and Japan to fool the customers.

Fortunately, the strategy was proved to be a failure. Now Nissan has corrected its wrong and spent extra effort to heal our broken hearts. The 5th generation Micra is striking enough to compensate for our loss of faith in the past 7 years. Sharp-looking, sporty driving and built with near Volkswagen level of quality, it is clearly designed for the European market. Will it be rebadged March and sold in Japan? I doubt. Superminis don't sell in large quantities there, and Nissan already has Note, Juke and Cube to serve the same purpose. In fact, freeing of the influence of Japan and developing countries allows the Micra to focus on driving dynamics and quality, which is good to us.



While the old car was as soft and mushy as jellyfish, the new car’s exterior design is sharp and sporty to the extent some might find it too radical to live with.

The styling change could not be more dramatic. While the old car was as soft and mushy as jellyfish, the new car’s exterior design is sharp and sporty to the extent some might find it too radical to live with. Up front, there is a “V-motion” corporate grille dominating the nose. Everything else – the V-shape bonnet, the wing-shape headlamps and the left and right lip spoilers – looks like an extension from the grille, extending outward and rearward to the sides of the car. The angles of bonnet and windscreen are so fast that they are almost aligned, creating a wedge profile. The roof line curves smoothly and dips a little bit towards the tail, resulting in a streamline shape and an excellent drag coefficient of 0.29. At both sides and the tailgate, there are sharp crease lines pressed onto the sheet metal to change light reflection and make the car looking heavily sculpted. The side crease line dips dramatically at the middle of front door so to lighten the visual mass and create a false impression of coke-bottle shape. Higher up, all but the A-pillars are blackened, again to lighten the visual mass. The rear doors kick up drastically near the C-pillars, which adds character to the design at the price of rear quarter visibility. Like Renault Clio, the rear door handle is hidden at the C-pillar, though you won’t confuse a 5-door hatch with a 2-door coupe. The tailgate is 3-dimenional but quite small. The rear screen is narrow yet shallow, undoubtedly hampering rear view. No wonder the new Micra offers rear-view camera, parking sensors and even a 360-degree parking camera system.



The rear bench is tight on headroom, blame to the dropping roof line...


Inside, the sporty shape compromises visibility and space. While the front seats are roomy, the rear bench is tight on headroom, blame to the dropping roof line. Knee room has no such problem though as the new Micra runs a 2525mm wheelbase, 75mm longer than the old car’s. The rear windows are not only small but also positioned high, so the rear seat feels claustrophobic, and kids won’t be able to view out. Another blow to the rear passengers is the lack of power windows – good old winders return. At the back, the boot measures a generous 300 liters, but it is not the most useful because when the rear seats don’t fold flat, and it leaves a sizeable step at the load bay.

On the plus side, the design and build quality of the interior is excellent. On the top trim, the two-tone dashboard is decorated with faux stitch leather and color-matched with the seats and transmission tunnel. Regardless of trims, the dash top and most surfaces you are likely to touch are made of high-quality soft-touch plastics. Cheaper hard plastics can be found lower down and at door panels, but this is perfectly acceptable for a non-premium brand supermini. The instrument reading is clear and attractive, thanks to a color TFT trip computer display sitting between the two dials. The center console design is dominated by a 7-inch touchscreen. The infotainment system works better than most in the class. Overall, the build quality and tech of this cabin trails Volkswagen Polo a little, but trumps it for style.



The design and build quality of interior is excellent...


Measuring 4 meters in length, the new Micra is a massive 220mm longer than its predecessor. Its body is 78mm wider, but the roof is lowered by as much as 60mm to enable the sporty shape. It is finally well-sized to match the norm of B-segment! Earlier rumors suggested it was built on Renault-Nissan’s new CMF-B platform, but this is only partially true. In fact, its component set is a mix of the CMF-B and the old V-platform, which is closest to the new car in the form of Nissan Note. This allows the Micra to reach the market faster yet is able to share production costs with the next generation Renault Clio, which is still 2 years away. No wonder its production is shifted to the Clio plant at Flins, France.

Regardless of platform, the mechanical layout is just the same. It cannot escape from the class norm of MacPherson struts suspension up front and torsion-beam axle at the rear, or fuel-saving electrical power steering. It is said to feature a couple of advanced handling technologies, but none involves any additional hardware. “Active Ride Control” sounds like adaptive suspension but it actually uses soft braking to balance the car over bumps, similar to Mazda's G-Vectoring control. “Active Trace Control” is only another name of brake-actuated torque vectoring.



The car hits a sweet spot between the sharp handling of Ford Fiesta and the comfort and refinement of Volkswagen Polo...


As the car is built alongside Clio, it is not surprising to know it skips Nissan engines for Renault units. The 898cc 3-cylinder port-injection turbo is taken straight from Clio and Twingo, producing 90hp and 103 lbft of torque. It is neither the sweetest revving nor the most powerful 3-cylinder out there (that should be Ford’s 1.0 Ecoboost or PSA’s 1.2 Puretech) as it is an older design, but it gets the job done, running smoothly and quietly once it has overcome the turbo lag under 2000 rpm. It works well with a slick 5-speed manual. Mile-eater might opt for the 90hp 1.5 turbo diesel, whose 162 lbft of maximum torque offers a slight advantage in performance, refinement and fuel economy. Nevertheless, its extra weight at the nose blunts handling a little. Later on, there will be a new 1.0-liter naturally aspirated 3-cylinder petrol with 73hp added as entry-level model. Nismo version? Sadly, there is no plan at the moment. Its sporty shape definitely deserves more power.

As for ride and handling, the car hits a sweet spot between the sharp handling of Ford Fiesta and the comfort and refinement of Volkswagen Polo. It feels agile in the twisty, if not as sharp as Ford. Its steering is quick, precise and light. The suspension is stiff enough to resist roll but a little more absorbent than the Ford. The dependable grip, composure and fluency of cornering give you reassuring confidence to have some fun on back roads. On cruise, its tires and suspension are not quite as smooth and quiet as Volkswagen but still easily better the old Fiesta – admittedly, the new Fiesta is certain to claw back some points.

The new Micra is a versatile small car. Sharp looking, well built, good to drive and comfortable – at least for the two up front. It is probably not outstanding enough to get the top spot, but buyers will be foolish to ignore it.
Verdict:
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Micra 0.9T
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3999 / 1743 / 1455 mm
2525 mm
Inline-3
898 cc
DOHC 12 valves, VVT
Turbo
-
90 hp
103 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/45R17
1007 kg
109 mph (c)
11.4 (c)
-
Micra 1.5d
2017
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
3999 / 1743 / 1455 mm
2525 mm
Inline-4 diesel
1461 cc
SOHC 8 valves
Turbo
-
90 hp
162 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
205/45R17
1082 kg
111 mph (c)
11.2 (c)
-



























Performance tested by: -





AutoZine Rating

General models



    Copyright© 1997-2017 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine