A spot of nip, tuck and spec bump up for Nis­san’s en­try-level hatch­back

Car (South Africa) - - DRIVE - NIS­SAN MI­CRA AC­TIVE 1,2 VISIA+ PRICE: ETA:

OUR mar­ket’s heady com­bi­na­tion of a bur­geon­ing de­mand for en­try-level hatch­backs and a cur­rency as buoy­ant as a lead-filled lawn dart cre­ates the ideal en­vi­ron­ment for wal­let-friendly cars. Into this com­pet­i­tive bun fight steps Nis­san’s re­ju­ve­nated Mi­cra, a de­pend­able little car that Nis­san will be hop­ing will play a con­sid­er­able role in the com­pany’s on­go­ing for­tunes.

To put the Mi­cra Ac­tive 1,2 Visia+ into per­spec­tive, think of it as Nis­san’s foil to the likes of the Toy­ota Etios, Hyundai i10 and i10 Grand, Re­nault San­dero and, of course, VW’S Polo Vivo; all slightly older mod­els from their re­spec­tive man­u­fac­tur­ers that have been given a bit of a pol­ish and, in most cases, com­pet­i­tive pric­ing.

In the Ac­tive’s case, the pol­ish comes in the shape of sev­eral visual up­dates that help tie the pre­vi­ously amor­phous-look­ing Mi­cra a little more closely with Nis­san’s re­cent prod­ucts. The most no­tice­able change takes place up front, where the Ja­panese brand’s sig­na­ture chromed V grille joins re­vised head­lamps, bumpers and slightly tweaked tail­lamp ar­rays.

The cabin has also re­ceived a slight up­date in the shape of a mod­ernised cen­tre stack and new up­hol­stery.

Me­chan­i­cally, how­ever, nothing has changed, with the 1,2-litre, four-pot petrol still de­vel­op­ing 56 kw/104 N.m. They’re out­puts that, along with a man­ner that’s more lan­guid than revvy and sur­pris­ingly tall gear­ing, sees the little car strug­gle ever so slightly in cut- and-thrust town driv­ing at the Reef. On the bright side, once up to mo­tor­way speeds, the Mi­cra doesn’t feel fre­netic and, as is of­ten the case with In­di­an­built cars, the sus­pen­sion is pleas­ingly sup­ple over pock­marked tar.

Nis­san is lean­ing heav­ily on the Ac­tive’s value-for-money card, and with good rea­son. The list of stan­dard fea­tures in­clude a Tom­tom sat-nav sys­tem (on the first con­sign­ment of cars and op­tional there­after), Blue­tooth, elec­tric front win­dows, a good suite of safety fea­tures (ABS, EBD and brake as­sist, driver and pas­sen­ger airbags, and Isofix), air­con­di­tion­ing and re­mote cen­tral lock­ing.

But the crown­ing value-added fea­tures are the in­clu­sion of a six-year/150 000 km warranty and a three-year/90 000 km ser­vice plan, the lat­ter of­ten rel­e­gated to the op­tions list on most ri­vals. Fac­tor in the Mi­cra’s prac­ti­cal pack­ag­ing and proven me­chan­i­cals, plus a highly com­pet­i­tive price, and the Ac­tive will no doubt find favour with younger driv­ers and those on a bud­get.

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