New Micra scores
Nissan has high hopes for the baby of its fleet, write Mark Hinchliffe and Craig Duff
THREE-cylinder cars will be the way of the future. That’s Nissan’s thinking with the introduction of a 1.2-litre threecylinder model to the expanded new Micra model range.
Nissan corporate communications manager Jeffrey Fisher believes there will be no problem selling the concept of a three-cylinder car.
‘‘We don’t see it as an issue. Quite the opposite in fact,’’ he says. ‘‘We’re getting the type of power from a three as we were getting from a four just a few years ago. It’s the way of the future.’’
Fisher says it will be a competitor to Suzuki’s three-cylinder Alto, but points out the Alto is a smaller four-seater, while the Micra is a five-seater.
The new Thai-made Micra is also larger than before, being longer, wider, lower and lighter.
Fisher says the three-cylinder model will ‘‘contribute substantially’’ to almost quadrupling monthly sales to about 1500 or 18,000 in a full year.
‘‘Micra is a key product for us,’’ he says.
THE current Micra comes in one model: fivedoor, four-speed auto, 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine hatchback for $15,990 with a city edition featuring extra features for $17,990.
The new Micra comes with a choice of two engines, two transmissions and three trim grades.
It starts with the ST 1.2-litre, three-cylinder, five-speed manual at $12,990, a bargain compared with the Suzuki Alto GLX at $14,490.
There are also two 1.5-litre four-cylinder models, the ST-L is listed at $14,990 and the Ti at $16,990.
All three models come standard with Bluetooth connectivity, on-board computer with a gimmicky anniversary reminder, airconditioning, remote entry and tilt-adjustable steering.
You can also get a four-speed auto in each model for an extra $2000.
The Ti adds smart key, push button start/stop, climate control airconditioning, reversing sensors, 15-inch alloy wheels and front fog lights.
‘‘More choice will lift sales,’’ Fisher says. ‘‘With the previous model we had a dusty pink colour called London Rose and unabashedly went after the younger female market.
‘‘But we saw was a trend beginning that will be even stronger now that we’ll get more and more interest from single women, blokes and all sorts of other age groups including retirees.
‘‘This will appeal across a broader section and age group.’’
THE story here is the three-cylinder engine, which is the first Nissan to get a five-star rating in the Green Vehicles Guide.
Nissan claims the 56kW 1.2-litre threecylinder petrol engine achieves 5.9litres/100km and emits 138g/ km of CO in manual
2 (6.5litres/100km and 154g/km auto).
This compares with the Alto’s 50kW 1-litre engine, which sips just 4.8 litres/100km.
‘‘ We’ll get more and more interest from single women, blokes and all sorts of other age groups including retirees
However, the Alto is fairly rough and coarse, while Fisher says the Micra’s three-pot unit is ‘‘quiet and smooth’’ around town.
‘‘Obviously if you get it out on the highway the noise levels increase,’’ he says.
The manual 75kW 1.5-litre, four-cylinder petrol model has economy figures of 6.5litres/ 100km and CO of 153g/km (6.6litres/100km,
2 156g/km auto).
It hardly features as technology, but women will love the clever storage area in the front passenger seat squab, which can be flipped forward, providing a secure place to store a handbag.
THE Micra is now lower and the wheels have been pushed further toward the corners, making this look more like a skateboard than a car.
The shape has also been smoothed out for a more aerodynamic look that also reduces its drag rating to 0.32.
Despite the designers fiddling around the edges, it is still immediately identifiable as a Micra with its high-mounted, bug-eyed headlights and rounded roofline. It walks a fine line between being cute and comical.
EVERY new vehicle now features electronic stability control and there are cars on the road
Big heart: Nissan says three-cylinder cars like the Micra are the way of the future.