New Mi­cra scores

Nis­san has high hopes for the baby of its fleet, write Mark Hinch­liffe and Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

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.

Value

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.’’

Technology

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.

Style

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.

Safety

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.

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