A very intriguing vehicle. That's how I would describe the Nissan Micra. This bubbly car has a quirky design inside and out like a bunch of soap bubbles stuck together, and some say you can't call it a men's car. But Micra was designed to woo a unisex crowd and it looks stylish and elegant, all set to face the ongoing tough competition in the B-segment. Built on a new versatile V-platform, Micra is designed to offer a broad appeal to customers in both emerging and developed markets.
Well, after months-long wait, I finally got my hands on this tiny car. Although it looks tiny, there's incredible room inside than the exterior of the car suggests, thanks to its longer wheelbase and a 'wheels-at-each-corner' stance. The boot space and leg space for the back seats are also commendable, however, rear seats are flat and lack thigh support, which is something Nissan needs to re-look at.
Micra is a package of many 'firsts' in this segment of cars. The top variant comes with keyless entry and push start/stop button, which is an exciting feature with the next car being the Chevrolet Cruze to sport this function. Approaching the car with a handful of shopping bags and opening the doors without having to fumble for the key is great. All you need to do is keep 'the intelligent key fob' in your pocket, get inside, and press the start button; Micra growls into life. Interesting! It's technology that works. Another attractive feature is the wing-mirrors that automatically folds and unfolds when you lock and unlock the car.
Nissan seems to have been increasingly concerned about the safety of Indian drivers. Micra is again the first car in the segment to feature SRS airbags on ALL models, but only on driver's side on the lower variants. However, the question is, will a middle class customer be able to afford the high price of replacing the inflated airbag? Let's expect Nissan to come up with a competitive price for replacing airbags as well.
Inside, the 'twin-bubble' dashboard benefits from micro grain technology, which reduces the plasticky feeling. The interior of Micra looks more rounded and pleasing to eyes, with a round cluster of buttons on the central console, round AC vents, round speedometer and round steering boss. Overall, the interior quality is pretty good.
Before we move to the driving experience, let's have a look at the extensive picture collection from the test drive.
You can also download these images here
The Nissan Micra is powered by an 1198cc three-cylinder motor that develops a maximum power of 75bhp at a whooping 6,000 rpm. Three-cylinder engines are infamous for idle vibration but guess what, Nissan has come up with a unique technology (oval rotation of the crank pulley) which has considerably cut down idling vibration. Moreover, the Indian version has been tweaked for optimum fuel efficiency and lesser emissions. The result is evident — an Automotive Research Association of India backed figure of 18 kmpl!
Nissan Micra is the perfect car for city driving I'd say. The third gear offers a wide enough power band that makes driving in dense traffic child's play. With a small turning radius of just 4.65m and excellent visibility, city driving becomes a pleasure. However, the gear shifting is slightly jagged, which is definitely not expected from Nissan.
On a straight line Micra is a champion and is surprisingly stable even at 150km/h, thanks to good aerodynamics realised by the uniquely shaped cabin with a slightly raised roof end. The compact suspension built for the V-platform absorbs plenty of punishment handed out by our roads although there is some amount of body roll. Although acceleration is not swift, its braking and cornering capabilities and steering responsiveness are praiseworthy.
Micra is not just another car in the B-segment. It is a good blend of practical design and a handful of new unique features and seamless technology ingeniously packed. It has managed to live up to the reliability that you expect form a brand like Nissan. Prices for the car are not yet finalised and we need to wait until July 14 for that. However, rumour has it that the estimated price is Rs 4.00 lakh for the base XE model, Rs 4.75 lakh for the XL, and Rs 5.25 lakh for the top-end XV variant. If competitively priced, Nissan Micra is going to be a game changer in the days to come.
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