Don't judge a book by its cover. This is exactly what I was thinking while test-driving the Micra Diesel over the weekend. Nissan Micra may be a tiny car for many, but only in the appearance. It is as big as, or even bigger than, any other contender in the segment. The diesel variant powered by a mighty 1.5-litre 63bhp unit borrowed from the Renault Logan, makes the diesel Micra a cute little monster indeed.
And it's worth the customers wait — especially those who ask for the diesel variant as soon as the petrol version is launched. Thankfully, Nissan didn't keep its customers waiting too long. Within six months of the petrol variant launch in the Indian small car market, Nissan introduced the diesel variant. At first glance, you will hardly see any difference between the petrol and diesel Micras. But, the diesel variant comes with 15-inch alloy wheels and rear spoilers, which are missing in the petrol variant. Inside, it gets leather wrapped gear-knob and steering wheel with a chrome logo on it. Otherwise, everything else remains the same.
Nissan is offering two diesel variants — XV and XV Premium. Interestingly, both sport all exciting USPs of Micra such as Push Button Ignition, Keyless entry, Auto-fold door mirrors and driver air bag. The lower variant just lacks the 15-inch alloy wheels, auto air conditioning, rear spoiler and fog lamps. One big disadvantage of the diesel Micra, though, is that it doesn't have ABS even as an option. To cut further costs, Nissan has also decided not to offer passenger airbag on the diesel variants. Looks like safety measures aren't top of mind this time.
But such minor deterrents can be quickly forgotten once you experience the drive in this little monster. Simply push the Ignition button and the car comes to life not with a roar, but with a whisper. Yes, you can barely hear the engine inside the cabin. Although there's a fair amount of turbo lag as you start moving, things change in seconds and the Micra flies like a champ. You'll be amazed at the lightness of the power-steering at just 9.3 metres turning radius, which makes city-driving fun.
Under the curvy bonnet is the 1.5-litre CRDI K9K Diesel Engine that delivers 63bhp at 4000rpm and 160 Nm of torque at 2000rpm. It is mated to a 5-speed manual gearbox. The gearshifts are moderately smooth but the clutch is tougher compared to the petrol Micra. The third gear, however, offers a wide enough power band which translates into less gearshifts in city traffic.
On the highway, the car is a true performer as it seamlessly goes past 140 km/h but after that the engine starts gasping on to a maximum speed of 170+. However, the Micra is incredibly stable even at higher speeds, thanks to good aerodynamics brought togetherby the uniquely shaped cabin with a slightly raised roof end, plus rear spoiler. The compact suspension built for the V-platform absorbs plenty of punishment meted out by our roads although there is some amount of body roll and thumps and thuds. Braking is not that great, either.
The most disappointing part of the Micra is its rear seat. Although the car offers best-in-class leg, shoulder and headrooms, the seats lack proper cushioning, thigh and shoulder support. There is no head support, either. Nissan needs to seriously re-look at this feature, I'd say.
Nissan Micra is a package of many 'firsts' and best-in-class features, so one isn't surprised at the breakthrough in terms of fuel efficiency. Leaving all its contenders behind, the diesel-powered Micra delivers 23.08kpl (ARAI certified) — which essentially means one tankful will probably last you till the end of time.
The XV variant is priced at Rs 5.58 lakh while the XV Premium will cost Rs 6.04 lakh (ex showroom, Delhi).
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