Driven - Dec 2019

Nissan adds extra pep to the Micra Range

June 2018 saw the launch of Nissan’s latest version of its smallest and if not often underwhelming offering, the Micra. The new model aimed to shift the pensioner or rental car image, by offering new tech, drive platform and importantly a new fresh look that would be able to keep up if not contend with the likes of VW’s Polo and stablemate the Renault Clio 4 on which it’s based. The new Micra recipe was pretty simple, Cash in on the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, save on production costs and make it a Clio 4 with a lovely new body, also makes use of Clio’s 66kw 3-cylinder turbo petrol, and done. There’s nothing major to fault as it proved a good package with a competitive price tag but the underpinnings, realistically could have been the greatest flaw, given this engine can’t be faulted on anything other than its sheer lack of oomph once you lived with it in the real world. Now, don’t get me wrong it’s not a matter of a catastrophic lack of muscles that compromises the car to nothingness, no, just you find yourself having to work the 3-pot a touch harder than you would in a comparable rival, thusly affecting fuel consumption and just the overall driving experience has given the combined driving experience is rather engaged feel, and unlike the gutless motor in that it actually creates more joy that gripes.

Well, seemingly Nissan gets that too and fittingly has given the Micra range 3 additional variants, all of which to make use of an all-new DIG-T 1.0L motor. Offering 84kw and 180nm (with an additional 20 newtons on over boost), this is sent through the front wheels via 6-speed manual box, all pretty standard stuff. The extra poke is joined by some additions to specification levels, this is where the Micra comes into its own, with a long and extensive list of standard features, with the flagship model tested ticking off big-ticket items in this segment, the likes of Keyless entry, 360-degree camera, rear park assist, automatic LED lighting, automatic single-zone climate control, heated ‘Invigorating Red’ leather seats contrasted with the Black exterior paint scheme.  I rather enjoyed the Bose Personal Soundsystem which offered a sound experience that is pretty impressive for this price point with lots of clarity and enough bass for most, the headrest-mounted “UltraNearField” speakers are a bit of a gimmick but, as they add to the sound experience somehow I guess I like them too.

The new models now feature Sports suspension which is lower by 10mm and offers some rather impressive driving dynamics, the steering is well-weighted proves to be a good match to the rest of the package.  The additions to the power haven’t transformed the driving experience drastically, the motor still feels a touch lethargic and thusly a few extra revs before changing gears is often required when trying to make brisk progress. If you have a look at the B-segment you’ll understand that this is possibly one of the most tightly contested and overly saturated segments on the market, with lots of very different cars that all do and offer rather different things.  The Micra is subject to those rules, it offers value for money, a strong badge, vast spec levels and various vs price points and that’s pretty much what you need in such a tightly contested sector. The New engine doesn’t transform the Micra into anything it wasn’t before, a good contender for your money, the difference is now you can have a black one.

Pricing in South Africa

With the entry-level Visia Turbo starting at R252 800, the Micra suggests a decent amount of affordability when compared to the segment leaders. Good value for money and high levels of specification, even the Top Trumps Tekna plus is an impressive package given the standard trim.

66kW Turbo Visia: R252 800.00

66kW Turbo Acenta: R279 400.00

66kW Turbo Acenta Plus: R295 400.00

84kW Turbo Acenta Plus: R305 900.00

84kW Turbo Tekna: R326 300.00

84kW Turbo Tekna Plus: R336 900.00