2013 Nissan Micra road test
Nissan has launched the new Micra. A facelift rather than a thorough make over, the new Micra gets rid of the feminine, softer styling cues found on the model before. It were these very styling cues that kept many away from the car. Making up a vital part of the new Micra’s front are the 'pulled-back' headlamps. They are not quite like that of the Renault Pulse, and are refreshing to say the least, in terms of appearance especially. The lamps also play a role in the new Micra sporting a slightly elongated front, a change that has led to an increase in the overall length of the car over the earlier one, by 45mm. Measuring 3825mmin length, keeping company with the lamps is the bigger, more assertive grille. Like other Nissan automobiles, the new Micra sports chrome stripes with Nissan logo on them. The air dam in the bumper gets bigger to form the basis for an aggressive chin that takes away any trace of softer styling cues the earlier Micra showed. Looking bigger than it actually is, the sides of the new Micra haven’t changed much. They look much like that of the earlier model. Changes are in the form of redesigned fenders and new diamond shaped 8-spoke alloys. At the rear the car flaunts LED lamps, and a redesigned bumper.
Inside, the grey-coloured centre console has been replaced with a black coloured unit, which lends an upmarket feel to the cabin. The switches continue to be arranged around a round LCD readout, but with a sense of freshness. Silver highlights are found on the dashboard as well as the door trims. Changes include the front seats, which have been better bolstered, and are more supportive and comfortable. Capable of seating two at the rear in good levels of comfort, the new Micra features decent kit even on the basic trim. According to the trim level chosen, the car comes equipped with keyless entry and go, 'auto' air-con, and a music system with USB, Bluetooth connectivity, and a reverse camera. The new Micra could be also had with dual front airbags and side airbags, ABS, EBD and Brake Assist.
Apart from the external and internal styling changes, the new Micra gets a continuously variable transmission (CVT). An automatic transmission, it is mated to a more powerful, 76bhp version of the 1.2-litre three-cylinder DOHC petrol engine that did duty on the earlier model. Conveying a refined feel, the engine does not seem to have much to offer at low revs. Good supply of power is found in the mid-range, the car displaying good agility. Best response is had at part throttle, as an attempt to extract good supply of power by flooring the throttle gives rise to the rubber-band effect, typically associated with CVT transmissions. Engine note rises, but it takes some time before the flow of power makes it to the wheels. Driving the Micra CVT therefore is the best strategy, the car feeling the most responsive at part throttle. Exerting a good mid-range pull, a little above 3500rpm, the car makes easy work of driving in the city. Overtaking may call for some planning. Especially if it is on a highway, the Micra, more keen to cruise at a relaxed pace than overtake in a hurry. Make the car to hurry up, and it will quite likely disappoint with the CVT’ ‘rubber-band’ effect. Closer to redline, the engine does sound a little busy, the overall driving experience, not as interesting as it should have been. The 5-speed manual transmission Micra, in comparison, is quite exciting to drive. The clutch is light, and the shifts are short and precise. Lack of bottom end grunt means power is available in the mid-range, and can be extracted by swapping the cogs in a more definitive manner. The manual transmission car clearly feels more agile and tractable, in the city as well as on the highway. Under a mix of highway and city driving conditions the manual transmission Micra averaged 15.5kmpl. The Micra CVT averaged 14.7kmpl, and the diesel Micra averaged 16.5kmpl.
Powering the diesel Micra is the 63bhp, 1.5-litre common-rail K9K diesel engine also found on the model before. Conveying a refined feel, the car accelerates in a predictive and linear manner, torque spread across a wider band than in other diesel cars in the category, which tend to offers a sudden surge of torque across a narrow band. Power on the diesel Micra builds up gradually, presenting it with petrol-like driving manners almost. Not dull, neither very exciting to drive the diesel Micra is. The slick shifting 5-speed manual transmission makes for a light drive of the city. On the highway, the car feels happy cruising at good speeds.
Lighter steering, adjustable for rake, aids city driving. Also of help is the tight turn circle of the car. The steering gets heavier with speed not as much as, is expected. Feedback therefore is lacking, and dilutes involvement. Ride over most surfaces is good. Bad surfaces are handled well, but small irregularities tend to filter through. If the lack of steering feedback dilutes involvement, the car also exhibits an amount of roll when subjected to corners at good speeds.
To sum up, the new Micra highlights a positive change in styling. The new car is far more attractive and appealing than the earlier Micra ever was. Greater versatility is had from the availability of CVT transmission, and a more powerful petrol engine. The Micra CVT is certain to appeal to those who drive in the city day in, and day out. For those who like to have more control there’s the manual transmission versions, the diesel Micra, certain to appeal those who find the frugal nature of a diesel car helpful. Competitively priced the Nissan Micra is. Prices start at Rs 4.79 lakhs for the petrol model, and Rs 5.99 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi for the diesel model. For those who find the price on the higher side, there's the Micra Active. The Active may miss out on some of the frills of the new Micra, like the more powerful petrol engine (this one gets 63bhp, 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine), it is however no less in terms of the practicality a B-segment car is capable of offering. With prices starting at Rs 3.5 lakhs ex-showroom Delhi, the Micra Active is not a sorry form of the new Micra. Not at all.
Pros: Appearance, space, kit, CVT for ease of city driving, diesel for its frugal nature, Active for its practicality