The towering Neil Peart drum solo on Rush’s ‘La Villa Strangiato’ absolutely needs extreme volume and through a sound system that does justice to the impeccable clarity of the late drummer’s stickwork – and, in a car one normally associates that requirement with upper echelon luxury models.
Not so. Kitted out with Bose Personal sound system, the newest addition to the Nissan Micra range provides just the right ambience for extracting every little bit of head-banging pleasure out of the efforts of the Canadian band.
On the automotive side, the newest Micra is fitted with an 84 kW power plant to up its on-road beat.
The new 84 kW engine was developed by the Renault-Nissan Alliance, in conjunction with Daimler and it is available in three derivatives, including the Acenta Plus, Tekna and Tekna Plus grade, the subject of this review.
The updated model comes standard with sport suspension, sport exhaust tail pipe fin, Smart (keyless) entry, push start button, rear parking sensors, automatic folding exterior mirrors, leather steering wheel and shift lever, Intelligent Around View Monitor, Moving Object Detection and blind spot warning.
Additionally, it has LED headlights and front fog lights, automatic air-conditioner and automatic headlight levelling and the Tekna Plus, with ‘Invigorating Red’ interior personalisation, leather heated seats and ‘Enigma Black’ exterior colour.
The fifth generation Nissan Micra first hit South African streets last June, so the exterior lines of the new version are not changed, the chunky styling cues first initiated by the Juke, characterising the car that plays in quite a crowded small auto arena.
The strong lines and modern finishes give this city car an undeniably athletic feel and the two-tone interior finishes add a touch of class – although I feel the off-white finish will tend to discolour quite quickly even with regular input of ‘elbow grease’ to keep them clean.
The turbo-charged 1,0-litre petrol engine that produces 84 kilowatts of power – 18 kilowatts more than its predecessors – and 180 Newton metres of torque, makes a significant difference to the driving experience with more confidence-inspiring overtaking ability and being less sluggish off the line.
The DIG-T (Direct Injection Gasoline – Turbo) engine features a number of technical innovations, which allow it to deliver performance while maintaining high fuel economy and low CO2 emissions.
One of these innovations is the delta cylinder head – a world first for a 1,0-litre petrol engine – which makes for a more compact and lightweight engine and provides for an increase in available impact protection space and greater freedom in the design of the car’s bonnet.
Another is the bore spray coating on the cylinders. Developed from the Nissan GT-R supercar, this reduces the friction in the cylinder, improves heat management and combustion, cuts weight and improves fuel economy and CO2 emissions.
The drive is further improved by the suspension that has been dropped by 10 mm and features revised tuning to improve overall handling – and it works, with the Micra more go-kart in its approach to tight corners and more firmly planted on the road, even when vigorously ‘chucked’ in.
The steering has also been fine-tuned and is quicker and lighter to use without losing anything on precision or feedback to the driver.
However, it is not always about getting around on the limits of adhesion and sometime the Rush needs to be taken slowly and the stationary traffic enjoyed.
The 360-degree sound stage in the Tekna and Tekna Plus comes via a Bose Personal sound system, complete with headrest speakers.
The Bose Personal sound system breaks new ground in automotive audio by for the first time delivering a superior, driver-focused listening experience in a compact car and includes an amplifier under the driver’s seat, wide-range speakers in the front doors, tweeters in the dashboard – which deliver sonic clarity and punch – and two 6 cm UltraNearField speakers in the driver’s headrest.
The headrest set-up makes use of Bose PersonalSpace Virtual Audio Technology to produce a wide sound field with a clear sound image and musical depth and offer a range of listening options, from precise front-focused sound to a much wider and enveloping experience in which the sound feels like it is coming from places in the car where there are no speakers.
As with previous versions, the updated model is also compatible with Apple Carplay and Android Auto to make interacting with a phone while driving smarter and safer.
As a package, the Micra is a fun little car that punches well above its weight in several areas, setting a benchmark in the segment.