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Nissan Micra review

Cute Styling Dropped To Widen AppealNissan Micra review 2010

Nissan Claims To Have Made Diesel Obsolete With New Petrol Motor

Parking Gizmo Demands Honesty About Your Driving Skills
**** out of 5

For – well priced, high quality, impressive engine, well equipped
Against – fails cute test, no diesel, no 3-door  

COPENHAGEN, Denmark – Nissan’s Micra has a deserved reputation for reliability, but the last one was a bit too cute and girly to generate wide appeal, even though it was undoubtedly successful. The new one eschews hairdresser enticement with a body-style look which has a bit of a committee air about it; the car looks tidy and practical without being lovable like the old one.

It turns out that this was a conscious move by Nissan’s designers to try and widen the Micra’s market. Nissan has also added some formidable technology touches which might give it an edge against the competition. The Micra comes with a 1.2 litre, 79 hp three-cylinder engine that is so torquey and economical that it will render diesel engines superfluous, says Nissan. Three cylinder engines in the past have been more economical and lighter, but have fallen foul of the laws of physics which made sure these motors rattled more than normal and were much noisier. Nissan claims to have solved this problem, and on the city streets of Copenhagen and surrounding auto-routes, the Nissan Micra’s engine felt smooth, if a bit noisier than you might expect from a regular engine, although by no means intrusive. Rather pleasant, in fact. The claimed economy figures – an average of 56.5 mpg-5 l/km – sound impressive but await evaluation in real world driving.

Nissan Micra review 2010The Micra also offers a neat parking device, which will measure the space you’re considering, measure it, then declare whether your skills are up to getting into it. (You have to enter an estimate of your skills with the choices of “amateur”, “normal” or “expert”.) The computer will then declare the space “OK”, “difficult”, or “not advised”, the latter if the room available is less than 60 cms – a total just under two feet of room back and front.

Having rocked the assembled media with its claim to having superseded the diesel, Nissan then announced a more powerful version of the 1.2 litre petrol engine. This will be a direct injection gasoline version with a supercharger boosting power to 97 hp, which is claimed to be even more fuel efficient than the smaller one. Nissan keeps talking about fuel consumption in terms of grammes per kilometre, which means less than nothing to regular punters. This one is said to emit 95 g/km, which is about 68 mpg-4.2 l/km. This engine goes on sale next spring.

“It looks a bit Indian”
Nissan Micra review 2010The new Micra will be built in India, unlike its predecessor’s home of Sunderland, England. You will be aware of the Duke of Edinburgh’s famous remark when looking at some tangled and dangerous looking electrical wiring. “It looks a bit Indian”, he said. That slander on India’s workmanship might have had a grain of truth back then, but now there’s no hint of any third-world, second-rate workmanship in the Micra. After all, factory robots have no nationality or personality. The quality inside the Micra is top class. The materials are almost premium. If, though, you draw the line at buying a car made in India, you could select one put together at one of the other three factories assigned by Nissan to build about one million Micras a year. They will also be built in China, Thailand, and Mexico. Quite.

On the road, the Micra performed well in five-speed manual gear box mode, and CVT automatic. The steering was sharp. The wheels are placed at the four corners for maximum grip. The ride was smoothed out nicely by the suspension, although it did protest a bit over the rare rough bits of tarmac in Denmark. This might not be so acceptable on Britain’s roads, which are often a testament to the budgetary skills of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The new Micra has a longer wheel base than the old one, is longer, a bit wider, but lower. There are no plans to build a three-door version, they will all be five door. The roof has been embedded with boomerang-shaped grooves which reduce resonance especially at high speeds and reduce weight a bit. The new design, eschewing the attempt at prettiness with the rear end of the old one, is designed to maximise interior space.

Nissan Micra review 2010

Prices start at £8,995 for the base Visia, which offers among other things active and passive safety computerised gizmos, front, side and curtain airbags, remote central locking, trip computer and electric front windows. Acenta, starting at £10,595, adds things like automatic air conditioning, cruise control with speed limiter, electric door mirrors, front armrest, CD player with Aux-in capability, and Bluetooth.

Top of the range Tekna prices start at £12,095 and offers Nissan Connect entertainment and information package with Sat Nav. It’s got more speakers too. You also get automatic headlights and wipers, electrically folding mirrors and a pushbutton start and stop function.

The new Micra is meant to have a wider appeal than the old one. Will it succeed, and at the same time satisfy the district nurses and driving schools who loved the cute one?

Nissan Micra review 2010

(Nissan provided flight to Copenhagen and hotel)

Neil Winton – September 20, 2010

 Nissan Micra Tekna
Engine:1.2 litre, 3-cylinder petrol
79 hp @ 6,000
110 Nm @ 4,000
five speed manual
Top Speed:170 km/h-105 mph
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined - 56.5 mpg-5 l/km
CO2:115 g/km
Emissions class:
Euro 5
Length:3,780 mm
915 kg
MacPherson-torsion beam
Boot capacity:
265/511 litres
Competition:Ford Fiesta, Mazda2, Chevrolet Spark, Fiat 500, Renault Clio, Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, Seat Ibiza, Citroen C2, Fiat Punto, Honda Jazz, Mitsubishi Colt, Peugeot 207, Skoda Fabia, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo, Kia Venga
For:well priced, high-quality, impressive engine, well equipped
Against:fails cute test, no diesel, no 3-door

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