Nissan says it will aim to bring "fresh ideas" to the compact segment with the next Micra, which is due to go on sale in 2016 and was previewed by the Sway concept at the Geneva motor show.
The 4010mm long, 1780mm wide and 1385mm high Sway concept features Nissan’s new design language, first introduced on the new Murano, albeit in a more conceptual style. The pared-back interior is inspired by the IDX concept of 2013. The Sway was designed at Nissan's Atsugi design centre in Japan.
Those measurements pitch the Sway much closer to the 4100mm-long Nissan Note mini-MPV than the current Micra (which is 3825mm in length), signifying the expected growth of both models.
Short overhangs allow the Sway a wheelbase that's generous for the car's length; it boasts 2570mm between the axles, while the Volkswagen Polo offers 2470mm, even though the Polo is only 38mm shorter overall.
Design chief Shiro Nakamura said: “We are experimenting to see how Nissan might be able to bring fresh ideas to the compact segment.”
"The Sway is not a pure design study; it gives a hint of a next-generation hatchback.
"The Sway is like a smaller Murano," Nakamura added. "The V-Motion grille, strong character lines and the floating roof: every element we used in the Murano is there."
Nakamura said the Sway's bold styling is intentional, as the brand hopes to make a similar impact in Europe as it did with the Juke and Qashqai. "Nissan wants to be expressive and bold," he said. "We made a big statement with Qashqai and Juke, and those cars are very successful in Europe. We want to continue that philosophy.
"In this category, we are not the champions, so we don't need to defend; we can be challengers. Sometimes major players can become conservative, but we can go bold."
The new Micra is due to be launched in mid-2016. The model will be led by European design and engineering teams, a strategy also adopted by the Qashqai and Juke and opposite to the current car’s global brief.
Q&A with Philippe Klein, chief planning officer
Why does Micra need to change?
"Making a product attractive is complex; pricing is part of it, but it can never be the sole parameter. Design is an important factor. Driving dynamics too - and the experience for anyone in the car. We have to consider all these things in a coherent way. We've seen that with the Qashqai, X-Trail and Leaf and it follows that other products will follow."
Will the move upmarket mean a higher price?
"The move to the CMF platform is important; it offers an efficiency that allows us to be more competitive because it brings economies of scale. That means we can follow the lead of cars like the Qashqai and add more technology to the car; it's not about chasing price, but about providing content that makes a price attractive."
What about the Sway's styling?
“It shows how we could define the compact B-segment segment in Europe using the design cues that have been so successful on X-Trail, Murano and Maxima, as well as embodying the new CMF architecture. It’s an expression of what we could do, from the V-Motion signature to the floating roof, proportions and stance of the car.”