A clever Miller cycle, supercharged three cylinder add low emission zest and efficiency to this otherwise disappointing new-gen Micra

What is it?

The latest Micra has not exactly advanced the frontiers of supermini style and technology, and in some areas has actually retreated from them. But, the bizarrely named Micra DIG-S Pure Drive (Direct Injection Gasoline-Supercharged; Pure Drive is Nissan’s eco label) presents much new technology with its supercharged version of the three cylinder, 79bhp 1.2 litre engine.

What’s it like?

While the boosting is about improving performance - the sprint to 62mph falls from 13.7sec to 11.3sec – its main mission is to improve consumption and emissions, which fall from 56.5mpg and 115g/km to 68.9mpg and 99g/km, an impressive gain given its extra zip.

The surprise is the choice of what is usually an energy-sapping supercharger to boost economy, but it was selected because it’s easy to decouple, a tweak that in combination with twin cam variable valve timing, allows the engine to run the more efficient Miller cycle at low revs without counterproductive interference from the supercharger, and a boosted Otto cycle at higher revs and under load. Direct injection, 23 per cent less internal friction, an intelligent alternator, stop-start, aero mods and low-rolling resistance tyres all heighten the car’s fuel-paring capabilities too.

Nissan is positioning the DIG-S as a diesel alternative that comes close to offering the same economy, is faster and costs less. And this is quite an engaging engine, its subtle but keen warble serving a useful power crescendo once you’ve built a head of revs. The stop-start is reasonably unobtrusive and the engine a quiet cruiser, but don’t expect diesel-like, torquey low rev surges, blower or not – this is an eco set-up, and you’ll need revs to exploit the lightly entertaining handling.

Should I buy one?

This is the least disappointing iteration of a Micra that otherwise trails with its dated, plasticy interior, excess wind noise and forgettable styling.

Nissan Micra DIG-S Pure Drive

Price: £11-15,000; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 11.3sec; Economy: 68.9mpg combined; Co2: 95g/km; Kerbweight: 980kg; Engine: four cyl in-line, 1198cc; Power: 97bhp at 5600rpm; Torque: 105lb ft at 4400rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual

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Will86 10 July 2011

Re: Nissan Micra DIG-S

TegTypeR wrote:
My question has to be, how does the principle translate in to larger capacity form? Is this type of design going to be something we are likely to see more of from Nissan?
Nissan have got the DIG-T in the Juke. It's a 1.6 direct injection turbo unit putting out near enough 190bhp. But it doesn't seem to have found its' way out of the Juke yet.

Citytiger 10 July 2011

Re: Nissan Micra DIG-S

A lot of technology for what is effectively a car bought by the grey pound, I am sure pensioners will love it whilst it work, but expect high bill for repairs a few years down the line...I also agree as stated above sounds like a cracking engine just crying out for the correct application.

TegTypeR 8 July 2011

Re: Nissan Micra DIG-S

LP in Brighton wrote:
I wonder if Nissan isn't deliberately understating this car's true performance in order to secure competitive insurance group ratings?

If it is an "eco" orientated model, you'll probably find the gearing is the thing stunting the performance.

I do have to agree though, it sounds like a cracking little unit. My question has to be, how does the principle translate in to larger capacity form? Is this type of design going to be something we are likely to see more of from Nissan?