On sale for three model generations in global markets, the Nissan Micra is a part of the bedrock underpinning Nissan’s steady growth in the face of all adversity over the past decade. So for this latest 4th-Generation Micra, Nissan engineers had to begin with crystal clear objectives to ensure that the new Micra retained its core appeal while improving in all the areas a modern customer demands the best.

The result is a vehicle which grabs class-leading status in a number of key consideration areas, but has remained true to its original goal of being a truly leading city car – agile, versatile, compact, and affordable to own and run.

Making its debut in this exciting new model is an all-new, modern 1.2-litre three cylinder petrol engine, which forms as integral a component in achieving the ambitious objectives of Nissan with the new Micra as the V-platform which the company is also debuting in this model. While the platform itself focuses strongly on reducing weight while increasing overall rigidity, this engine has been built to reconcile two conflicting customer desires – those of spirited dynamic performance and the most frugal economy and lowest CO2 emissions attainable in its class for 2011.

First and foremost, the compact dimensions of this new petrol power plant contribute immediately to the overarching aim of achieving maximum efficiency by reducing weight. Less weight means more dynamic driving characteristics can be provided without requiring an excessively powerful engine, while also improving both handling and braking performance thanks to reduced inertia. This new 3-cylinder engine is a key reason why the new Micra is able to tip the scales at a starting kerb weight of just 915kg, even less than the previous model despite being subtly but usefully larger in size.

The new three-cylinder power plant features an offset counter weight on the crank pulley, which generates an oval motion in the process cancelling out vertical vibrations from the piston movement. The end result is a lightweight engine which delivers smooth power across its operating range and an overall driving ambience comparable to a larger and more luxurious class of car.

Fewer moving parts in the new engine also have the result of lowering internal friction and improving overall thermal efficiency. To further reduce friction circular bore pistons and hydrogen-free diamond-like-coating (DLC) for the piston rings have been adopted, and friction is down by up to 30% compared to four cylinder engines with comparative power outputs.

To achieve the aggressive consumption targets, this 12-valve 1.2 incorporate valve timing control (VTC), exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) to improve combustion efficiency, and high tumble pistons complementing a high compression ratio.

The result represents an average 25% improvement in fuel economy over the previous-generation 1.2-litre Micra. Fitted with a manual transmission, this remarkable engine has yielded a combined-cycle economy rating of just 5.2l/100km, a hugely impressive result for an engine producing 56kW at 6000 rpm and 104Nm at 4000rpm! This translates to CO2 emissions of just 124g/km, easily the lowest in this volume-selling class and in South Africa only just impacted by the legislated CO2 tax applied on showroom floors.

For the SA market, Nissan has also made a 1.5-litre petrol model of the new Micra available for those for whom 56kW is just not sufficient, and is continuing to offer a 1.5 dCI-powered Micra as well which delivers a greater swell of torque at an even lower rate of consumption, just 4.7 l/100km.

The innovative new 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine is clearly one of the new Micra’s defining characteristics. The advantages of reduced weight, ample power and class leading economy defines the new Micra as a vehicle which is entirely in sync with any modern city you happen to use it most in.

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