What is it?
This is the all-new Nissan Micra, which will be made in Thailand, India, China and Mexico and sold in 160 countries around the world, including the UK. It’s based on Nissan’s new V (‘Versatility’) platform, which will be used as the basis of another two future models.
The Micra also features an all-new low friction three-cylinder engine, which will be the mainstay motor for sales in Europe. (There won’t be a diesel engine. Instead there’ll be a supercharged, direct-injection version of the three-pot engine good for just 95g/km of Co2).
Nissan has also engineered an all-new Continuously Variable Transmission, which it says is not only notably compact, but also has the widest spread of ratios of any CVT.
What’s it like?
Light, nippy, refined and extremely easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. This is not, however, the kind of thrusting, driver orientated car in the mould of the Fiesta. The Micra’s friendly bubble styling inside and out is a good indicator of what to expect. It is a car that has been optimized for ease of use.
This is a cleverly conceived engineering concept, which has seen the car’s individual parts count reduced by 18 per cent. Despite its lightness, it does feel very well screwed together and tightly constructed.
For a compact supermini, the Micra has impressively spacious cabin for the front passengers, especially for shoulder room. Under normal driving conditions, it’s impressively refined and the three-cylinder engine is impressively smooth thanks to the clever counterweight fitted to the crank pulley.
The CVT is smooth shifting and unobtrusive, but in typical CVT fashion it drones in a most unappealing way when under hard acceleration. The engine was fine for keeping up with brisk traffic, but there’s not much go until the rev counter gets beyond 4000rpm and even then the acceleration is modest.
Nissan went to some effort to equip the Micra with a very tight 4.5m turning circle and it was worth the trouble. It makes placing the car in tight situations very easy indeed. The steering is light, but the driver can still sense the position of the front wheels.
In truth, it’s pretty hard to be definitive about the Micra’s dynamics because European models will get different damper settings, re-tuned steering, anti-roll bars, larger brakes and softer tyre construction.
The interior of the Micra will also get an upgrade with softer plastics and better fabrics by the time it arrives in Europe.
Should I buy one?
Very hard to say until the first European-spec Micras arrive in the UK this autumn. The chassis tuning will be optimized for our roads, but it is likely to remain optimised for ease of progress above all. The key will be the pricing of the car in the UK.
Because UK-bound Micras are made in India, there’s a good opportunity for Nissan to undercut the Fiesta and Polo tempt city car buyers into something more spacious and substantially engineered.