The power of three

A su­per­charged en­gine drives Nis­san’s new small car, writes Neil McDon­ald

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Onroad -

ASO­PHIS­TI­CATED su­per­charged three-cylin­der en­gine is on Nis­san Aus­tralia’s wish list for the new Mi­cra.

The fourth-gen­er­a­tion Mi­cra, which goes on sale later this year, con­tin­ues as Nis­san’s lo­cal price leader.

Nis­san Aus­tralia spokesman, Jeff Fisher, says spec­i­fi­ca­tion de­tails are still be­ing fi­nalised be­fore the launch and he can­not con­firm if Aus­tralia is even get­ting the 1.2-litre su­per­charged en­gine.

In Europe the Mi­cra will be sold with diesel and petrol en­gines, in­clud­ing the su­per­charged three-cylin­der.

Es­ti­mates sug­gest the su­per­charged en­gine will pro­duce 70kW at 5600 revs and 140Nm from 3000-5000 revs. The reg­u­lar three cylin­der is ex­pected to de­liver 58kW/108Nm.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the su­per­charged three delivers class-lead­ing C0 emis­sions of only 95g/km and has been de­signed for Europe, where cars are taxed for their emis­sions.

The en­gine uses di­rect in­jec­tion and the Miller cy­cle com­bus­tion process. Nis­san says the three-cylin­der’s per­for­mance equates to a 1.5-litre en­gine.

The su­per­charger only op­er­ates at higher speeds. Around town and at con­stant speeds it’s out to save fuel.

The Mi­cra has been a hit in Ja­pan, where it has just gone on sale.

Al­ready the com­pany has taken 10,000 or­ders, 6000 more than it had ex­pected in the car’s ini­tial launch phase.

Ja­panese buy­ers not only get the su­per­charged three-cylin­der but stop­start technology.

Nis­san has cut pro­duc­tion costs to lower the new hatch’s price.

It uses 18 per cent fewer com­po­nents than the old car — the dash- board has 28 parts rather than the 50 in the cur­rent car.

Driv­ing

OUR brief drive of a pro­to­type Mi­cra en­tailed just one lap of Nis­san’s test track at Yoko­hama. But one thing is clear — the su­per­charged three­cylin­der is a sparkling and crisp per­former. At idle the com­pact en­gine is quiet and has lit­tle ev­i­dence of the three-cylin­der thrum that marks such cars as the Suzuki Alto and Smart’s Fortwo.

The Mi­cra has par­tic­u­larly strong mid-range re­sponse from 40km/h up­wards and the trans­mis­sion is on a par with its ri­vals.

Our car is a pro­to­type, but the Mi­cra’s cabin has a light, airy feel with sup­port­ive seats. If Nis­san Aus­tralia can build the ar­gu­ment, it should be part of the lo­cal line-up.

Small sen­sa­tion: Nis­san Aus­tralia hopes to have the su­per­charged Mi­cra in its line-up.

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