It seems like yesterday Nissan’s little car was launched into South Africa with the pay line of “Do you speak Micra” – a kind of attempt at being really funky that failed where the car itself certainly did not – and now, we up to generation five and it is looking good.
The new Micra gets stepped up a notch to play at the upper end of the B-segment of the market, so it has undergone all the necessary tweaks of longer, lower and wider to fit right in, while the older Micra Active variant will remain as the contender in the lower end of the market.
Naysayers will quickly point to the core bits the new Micra takes from the Renault Clio and, while much of that is true, Nissan has given the new car its own identity with styling reflecting the more modern styling trend coming from the Japanese automaker – the front of the Micra looking familial with the recently launched and updated Leaf.
The new Nissan Micra has dynamic hatchback proportions and features a sculpted body with strong and sharp character lines visible from every angle.
From the front, the shortened bonnet design and reduced A-pillar angle create a poised silhouette. The narrow headlamps stretch through the front wings and include signature LED daytime running lights on every trim level. Halogen headlamps are standard on all grades. The lights frame Nissan’s familiar ‘V-motion’ grille, reinterpreted to complete the new Micra’s bold front-end design.
Below the car’s sloping roofline is the expressive character that runs the entire length of the new Micra’s body, dipping dramatically as it passes over the front door and sweeping upwards towards the rear. The black B and C-pillars create a floating roof effect, while the C-pillar is home to the discrete door handles, which provide access for rear passengers.
At the rear are the striking new boomerang-shaped light clusters. Below them is the sculpted bumper, which features a carbon-look finish as standard and hides the car’s exhaust pipe. Above is the sports-style rear roof spoiler, also standard to enhance aerodynamic performance. Together, these features create a recognisable motif for the back of the car.
Inside, it boasts two-tone soft-touch materials as standard across the range and the cabin is based around a T-shaped ‘gliding wing’ dashboard, with simple structures that create excellent space for the driver and front passenger. The instruments and controls have been grouped together for comfort, convenience and safety.
Special attention was given to the design of the front seats in order to provide continuous back support, helping to decrease driver fatigue on long journeys. The car’s width means enhanced elbow space for rear passengers, who also benefit excellent shoulder and knee room.
Boot capacity is a competitive 300 litres and delivered without compromising on rear passenger knee room. That figure expands to 1 004 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down.
There are three specification levels available – the Visia, the Acenta and the Acenta Plus. The Visia comes standard with 15-inch steel wheels, daytime running lights, front power windows, a manual air-conditioning, a Bluetooth and MP3 compatible audio system, cruise control, automatic headlights and six air bags.
The Acenta adds 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights among other features while the Acenta Plus has 17-inch alloy wheels, a leather steering wheel and an Energy Orange interior.
The 7-inch touch-screen colour display on the Acenta and Acenta Plus allows the driver to access features such as music, messages and maps through Apple CarPlay in addition to the MP3, USB and Bluetooth in the Visia model.
Every new Micra comes with six air bags as standard, plus seat belt warnings and seat belt height adjustment for the front and rear. Isofix child seats are standard in the new Micra, including in the front passenger seat. Electronic safety systems include Vehicle Dynamic Control, Anti-locking Braking System, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Hill Start Assist.
There is one engine available at launch – the 66 kW, 140 Nm turbo-charged petrol engine.
Perhaps not the best day for auto journalists to be sampling a new product but the heavy rain in and around Cape Town was gleefully received by residents still in the grip of the worst drought in living memory.
This meant flooded roads and some route closures but not enough to deny most of us an opportunity to stretch the legs of the Micra and to be comforted by its willingness to respond and fairly perky performance, despite the sodden roads.
Bearing in mind this is a city runabout, the despite to punch above its fighting weight gave it a nice element of fun.
The new Micra has been built on Nissan’s existing V-platform and has been significantly enhanced to deliver new levels of performance. The new Micra provides exceptional stability and reduced body roll through corners thanks to its high body stiffness and advanced suspension. In addition, the low driving position promoted by the excellent ergonomics of the interior reduces the centre of gravity, further enhancing the secure driving feel. Responsive and accurate steering comes from a new brushless electric power unit, and provides a high degree of manoeuvrability.
As with all other Nissan vehicles, the Nissan Micra is covered by Nissan Assured and comes with a 6-year/150,000km warranty; a 3-year/90,000km service plan; and 24/7 roadside assistance.
Nissan Micra Visia: R233, 500
Nissan Micra Acenta: R257, 400
Nissan Micra Acenta Plus R272, 400