After nearly 30 years and four models later, Micra continues to set the city car standard. But, the latest Micra was created from scratch with the undeniably brazen intention of setting a new benchmark for the sector.
At a glance
- All-new light weight platform
- All-new exterior and interior design
- All-new three-cylinder petrol engine
- Spacious inside, compact outside
- Full spectrum environmental efficiency
- Agile and city smart
- True global city car
The all-new Micra - the fourth generation to wear the name – marks the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the history of Nissan's multi-award winning compact city car.
It is Nissan's first model to use the new V-Platform. The first to use an advanced, low emission three-cylinder engine. And it's the first to be built across four international manufacturing plants in China, Thailand, India and Mexico.
"The new Micra is a vitally important car for Nissan as the company grows. It is clearly the right car for the right time. From the very beginning, we identified that new Micra must combine agility and strong performance with exceptional fuel economy and class leading CO2 emissions to be sure of meeting the expectations of European customers" said Andy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Global Product Planning, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
Developing this replacement to the popular 3rd generation Micra was much more than a new car programme. Engineers from across the globe went to the Global Product and Engineering Centre (GPEC) to learn about the new car and, more significantly, about the state-of-the-art Nissan Production Way. They were then sent back to their respective countries with Japanese support staff to assist in start-up procedures and the execution of assembly lines. In this way, Nissan maintained its high quality levels while optimising local production methods with local content rates of more than 85 per cent, a critical factor in building a world-class, competitive car.
The new V platform or Versatile platform is one of the key elements in new Micra's make up. Designed to be structurally rigid yet as light as possible, V-Platform helps deliver agile handling allied to high levels of fuel efficiency and low emissions.
It is the flexibility of the manufacturing philosophy behind the new V-Platform which endows the new Micra with an uncanny ability to feel like it's literally been made for any city it finds itself in. This combination of agility in traffic and composure when cruising eliminate the consternation of city driving, making both driver and vehicle feel in sync with the city they're navigating at all times.
As the populations of South African cities continue to climb, drivers are demanding a city car boasting dynamic performance with suspension tuned to be both responsive and comfortable to take the strain out of the regular commute. A car with a comfortable and roomy interior but without cumbersome overall dimensions. And of course environmental efficiency and a car which attracts as little CO2 tax as possible to ensure great value on their Rands spent per kilometre travelled throughout the lifecycle of the vehicle.
The new Micra was conceived, from its design, engineering, powertrain and equipment levels, to deliver the ideal solution to these needs while still remaining accessible to the widest possible range of the car buying market.
New Micra launches with a brand new three-cylinder petrol engines displacing just 1.2-litres but producing a commendable 56kW and 104Nm. This engine is a highlight of the new range with class-leading consumption of just 5.2 l/100km in the combined cycle, and CO2 emissions a mere 124 g/km - barely over the current tax threshold - and delivers these results with exceptional NVH properties. In fact, the new Micra redefines refinement in this sector, the combination of rigid V-Platform, unobtrusive engine and extensive aerodynamic fine tuning delivering a cocooned, serene driving experience.
This engine is available in three specification grades, Visia followed by Visia+ and then Acenta. All models have electric power steering, ABS with Brake Assist as standard – features not normally associated with the city car segment.
Nissan will also introduce a comprehensively specced 1.5-litre petrol motor Tekna variant and the popular 1.5 dCi model in Acenta trim. Catering for the city car driver who also wants all the luxury equipment available and more dynamic performance, these models of the new Micra have been created especially for markets with a high number of driving enthusiasts such as ours.
FRESH YET FAMILIAR
By retaining the rounded profile of the outgoing Micra while refreshing the overall look for modern times, Nissan's designers have created a car that combines a genuine freshness with a friendly familiarity
While the competition from 15 year's ago has grown into a sub-segment higher, new Micra has stayed true to its true city car heritage and is virtually the same size as the outgoing model. Overall, new Micra is slightly longer, marginally wider and a fraction lower.
Height: 1520mm (-10mm)
Width: 1665mm (+5mm)
Length: 3780mm (+61mm)
Wheelbase: 2450mm (+20mm)
Boot capacity (VDA): 265-511 cu m
The key feature that defines Micra's character is its instantly identifiable profile and, in particular, the arched side window graphic. This notable visual feature played a hand in garnering the Micra its strong international support base and has there been retained on the new car and, if anything, accentuated by a more prominent rear roof spoiler.
The overall shape is bolder than before, with a strong rounded waistline and distinctive character line above the sills. But while the profile has remained familiar, both front and rear treatments are entirely new and bring much of the more modern form which characterises the new model.
Crucially, the new design has not compromised on Micra's acclaimed all-round visibility, something which is essential for easy, stress-free driving in the city. The driver enjoys a commanding view of the road and extremities, which combined with maintaining compact city car dimensions enables confident manoeuvring even in decidedly tight spaces.
According to Makoto Yamane, Associate Product Chief Designer; "Micra's face is stylish and has an air of sophistication... but at the same time it is approachable, like a friend you can rely on."
This sculptured look extends to the dominant grille, now more clearly than ever a Nissan family product. The two-part grille is neatly divided by the front bumper, while above the line sits a slim opening split by a chrome bar on Acenta and Tekna models and topped by an indentation housing the Nissan badge. A deeper opening beneath the front bumper extends to virtually the full width of the car and houses the front number plate. On Tekna models, the grille has a distinctive chrome surround. The overall look is complemented by softly rounded one-piece headlamps.
At the rear, the deep tailgate is flanked by one-piece tail light assemblies while the bumper features a neat cutaway for the number plate. A central high mounted stop lamp is integrated into the roof spoiler.
Aerodynamics played an important role in defining the overall shape of new Micra. The roof, for example, has been embedded with boomerang-shaped grooves which help reduce resonance in the cabin, especially at higher speeds at the same time as reducing overall weight by up to 2kgs. The sleek roof design, complete with the pronounced rear spoiler, combine to minimise drag to help economy and reduce emissions.
Beneath the car, the underbody has been designed to improve airflow and maximise downforce enhancing high-speed stability. Micra's coefficient of drag is a commendable 0.33 as a result of the extensive aerodynamic modelling carried out at the design stage.
All these features help to deliver a stylish vehicle of obviously superior quality to the global marketplace.
"The new Micra has achieved what Nissan set out to thanks to the clean-sheet design and modern, intelligent engineering principles. The result is a car which is very practically with great all-round visibility, confident dynamics thanks to a low centre of gravity and overall light weight, and excellent cruising stability by pushing the wheels out to the extreme corners of the car," comments Janico Dannhauser, Nissan SA Micra Product Manager.
"But at the same time, it's styled to fit you perfectly with a familiar, friendly overall character created by the strong waist and rounded, pebble-like contours. It's this overall harmony and modernity that all contribute towards making new Micra overtly in sync with your city."
In order to match the same sense of style the Micra exudes on the outside in the interior, the design team have created a ‘connected cocoon' architecture. The dashboard for instance features a twin bubble design theme matching the circular instrument binnacle with a similarly shaped cubby hole ahead of the passenger. This double-layered cubby is complemented by a large upper storage area while other smaller storage pockets are conveniently located throughout the cabin area.
The interior has been tweaked and tuned to be comfortable even to a customer downsizing from a more expensive category of car, boasting more head and leg room for both front and rear passengers as well as easier ingress and egress thanks to the unique packaging properties of the V-platform.
Achieved through the slightly longer wheelbase and long roof line new Micra offers ample room – in fact this overall interior roominess is hard to reconcile with its compact exterior dimensions!
The weight saving targeted by Nissan engineers necessitated a focus on reducing the number of parts needed while also improving quality. New Micra has, on average, 18 per cent fewer components than similarly sized cars: its dashboard for instance comprises 28 parts instead of more than 50 on most vehicles of a similar specification.
LIGHT, AGILE, EFFICIENT
New V-Platform brings lightness and rigidity – both elements key to the Micra's core qualities of agility, roominess, efficiency, and low emissions.
"The new V-Platform is the vital basis of Nissan's future plans, and for that reason was developed to exceed all performance targets. This same base architecture will also be used to deliver two additional models in the near future. Its debut in the new Micra highlights just how talented our engineering teams are, and deliver a level of refinement which we believe is unmatched in the city car segment today," states Dannhauser.
Micra is the first outing of this entirely new V-Platform, but Nissan has already announced that it will also form the basis two future models. More examples of just how versatile this platform is will continue to filter into all the segments of Nissan's passenger car range moving forwards.
The key elements of the V-Platform are strength without adding unnecessary weight. Even though it is slightly larger than the outgoing Micra the platform has been engineered to deliver optimum rigidity for excellent handling characteristics coupled with a refined ride, but at the lowest possible weight for enhanced performance, strong fuel efficiency and low emissions. These seemingly contradictory requirements had to be reconciled for new Micra to be in complete harmony with the rigours of modern city driving, and Nissan engineers have delivered in abundance in the details of this new platform.
Weight savings aren't just restricted to the platform however. A new 41 litre fuel tank, for example, is 2.2kgs lighter than that in the outgoing Micra; the exhaust system is shorn of a central silencer, reducing weight by a further 3.2kgs, and the front suspension system is lighter by 9kgs overall.
Packed inside new Micra are lighter seats while the dashboard uses fewer parts and the engines are smaller and therefore also weigh less. Even the roof panel is lighter by 2kgs thanks to that aerodynamic boomerang groove. Overall new Micra boasts a kerb weight starting at just 915 kgs, or 35 kgs less than its predecessor. Considering the ample spaciousness of the interior and comprehensive standard equipment, the weight saving is actually even more considerable than this data suggests.
In honing the dynamics, Nissan engineers began with the well respected K12 model's basic layout – an independent MacPherson strut front end with coil springs and a compact torsion beam rear axle. These suspension components are mounted directly to sub-frame assemblies in new Micra which helps to eliminate road noise and improve overall NVH properties while set up to always maintain the vehicles dynamic characteristic – being entirely in sync with the streets of your city.
Because the V platform is more rigid than before, this suspension arrangement can work more efficiently to provide more accurate steering with greater feel and precision while there's less dive under braking and pitch under acceleration. Suspension engineers have paid particular attention to bump absorption and adopted long-stroke dampers so that new Micra rides exceptionally well over even the most pothole-scarred city roads.
Helping to provide Micra drivers with utmost confidence even in tight spaces, the standard electric power steering setup helps the vehicle achieve a class-leading turning circle of a mere 4.6m. Combined with still-compact exterior dimensions it is this exceptional agility which helps new Micra truly excel in urban environments everywhere.
Standard safety equipment includes a braking system with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist technologies. Micra also has dual front airbags, curtain and side airbags, as well as pretensioner seatbelts, and is a class leader with a full complement of four airbags in the Visia+ and Acenta specification while buyers of the 1.5 Tekna get all-round peace of mind with six airbags in total.
New 3-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine delivers lowest consumption and emissions figures in the class without sacrificing any refinement. Upmarket 1.5 dCi delivers staggering 4.7 l/100km, while sporty 1.5 petrol made available for South African driving enthusiasts.
New Micra's drivetrain selection at launch is unashamedly environment oriented while still catering to the needs of a wide variety of potential customers. The highlight of the range is undoubtedly the all-new 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine, but for SA the range has been extended to include a 1.5 dCi and 1.5-litre petrol variants as well.
The new engine has been developed to further promote lightness, combined with a frugal thirst and excellent emissions characteristics. It delivers headline-grabbing consumption of just 5.2l/100km on the combined cycle, and emits a stellar 124 g of CO2 per kilometre travelled. Both the 56kW power output and 104Nm torque produced are well utilised by the lightweight platform for lively performance with a degree of refinement which has to be experienced to be believed.
This HR12DE unit is closely related to the respected four-cylinder HR16 petrol engine found in the Qashqai and imminent SA arrival, Juke.
Displacing 1,198cc spread between just three cylinders makes the new engine a very light weight, compact and highly efficient 12-valve unit. Innovative engine design has created a three-cylinder unit which cancels out its own vertical cylinder movements for a silken delivery of power across the rev range with idle vibration in particular all but eradicated. As a result, the HR12 unit has NVH levels superior to many four-cylinder competitors.
Requiring fewer moving parts the three-cylinder unit also boasts lower internal friction and improved thermal efficiency. Friction is even further reduced through techniques like the use of circular bore pistons, the adoption of a hydrogen-free diamond-like carbon (DLC) coating for the piston rings and a smart variable displacement oil pump. Together these elements help to reduce friction by up to 30 per cent, compared with conventional four-cylinder engines with similar performance levels.
Other technologies designed to maximise fuel efficiency include valve timing control (VTC), exhaust gas recirculation for improved combustion, low friction water and oil pumps, high tumble pistons and a high compression ratio.
Powering the 1.5-litre petrol Micra is another HR-family engine new to our market, the HR15DE. This straight-four petrol engine displaces 1498cc and develops 73kW and 138Nm. Fitted in the lightweight new Micra, this free-revving engine delivers enthusiastic performance, but remains focussed on efficiency aided by the low weight and calculated aerodynamic properties of the new K13 generation.
Already proving a hit for its low cost per kilometre in the NP200 light commercial vehicle, the diesel engine fitted to new Micra is a derivative of the K9K diesel family. Refined to deliver even better combined-cycled consumption than in this respected half-ton bakkie, in the Micra the engine has recorded a combined-cycle average of just 4.7 l/100km, while the significantly lighter new V-Platform is propelled convincingly up the road by the 47kW supported by a wholesome 160Nm of torque.
IN SYNC WITH THE TECH
Safety and quality are top priorities in aims to achieve comfortable driving conditions in any urban situations, Micra brings big car feel to city car market.
"Micra is a small car on the outside, but a big car at heart... especially when it comes to considering some of its standard features. By adopting innovative technology which will bring real benefits and added convenience - in many cases as standard - Micra will make city driving as painless and enjoyable as possible."
Vincent Wijnen, Nissan's European Vice President for Marketing.
Equipment and model lines
Micra follows Nissan's now familiar model grade line-up starting with Visia and Visia+ and then moving through Acenta before arriving at the top Tekna version.
Externally the versions differ in subtle ways: Visia has 14 inch steel wheels, and black doors handles and mirrors while Acenta has a black B-pillar between front end rear doors, body coloured handles and mirrors and a chrome flash on the grille. Tekna variants can be identified by the chrome surround on the lower air intakes, front fog lamps and 15-inch alloy wheels.
All Micra models have a full complement of active and passive safety equipment with ABS standard across the entire range. From the Visia+ grade and up customers get front and side airbags as well as aircon for hot SA summers as standard. Added to the Tekna specification is curtain airbags, head restraints in the rear and an automatic aircon system. Automatic speed sensitive door locking is also standard From the Visia+.
Also standard are power steering with a tilt adjustable column. Remote central locking and electric front windows are standard on the Visia+ and up range. All Acenta and Tekna models also feature a trip computer.
Practical features include a neat bag holder incorporated into the front passenger seat to prevent luggage rolling around the cabin when the car is on the move. The seat squab is hinged in the middle allowing the rearmost section to be folded over onto the front leaving a well into which handbags or shopping bags can be lowered (available on Tekna model only).
Acenta adds electric door mirrors, while the in-car entertainment system is upgraded to include a CD player with Aux-in facility and four loudspeakers.
Tekna models add even more convenience, a front armrest and height adjustable driver's seat. The steering wheel and gearshift knob are leather covered introducing integrated Bluetooth capability for mobile phone connectivity and audio streaming from a suitable device, Aux-in as well as six speakers on the entertainment system system.
MICRA'S FAB FOUR
Micra is the foundation stone on which the modern day Nissan has been built. With almost 30 years of heritage - and more than 5.65 million examples - behind it, the newest Micra is the fourth generation to wear the name.
"Globally, the Micra is a key model in Nissan's history. It was the first Japanese-built car ever to win the International Car of the Year award, and it gained popularity with a huge variety of customers young and old, male and female alike. The new Micra fits in perfectly in our eyes by delivering the same strengths which have been adored in previous generations, but substantially improved across the board! Better fuel economy, lower emissions, a more refined ride, and a more comfortable interior all wrapped in a car which remains compact enough for true city car status and perfectly in sync with any city," concludes Dannhauser.
At time of launch the all new Nissan Micra will have the lowest cost per kilometer and lowest Kinsey parts basket value in its class. Concrete proof that the Micra is not just affordable to buy but in conjunction with its great fuel economy, very affordable to run as well.
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