New Nissan Micra 2013 road test review

  • Jun 21, 2013

The background

Nissan India launched the Micra way back in July 2010. A few months later, in October, they also rolled in the diesel version. The cute looking hatchback did fly off to good numbers, thanks to a frugal yet clever geared diesel engine, spacious interiors and a strong brand following. However, its exterior design didn’t really gel in well with the Indian crowd and males being males, wanted something that was less feminine and, well, more macho. Sales dropped and in 2013, the company sold just 3593 units in the first five month. It was time finally for India to welcome the new re-freshed Micra.

The new ‘male’ look

The new face-lifted Micra got an international debut just a few months back and when we first saw the images, we were in for a surprise, of good sorts. The cute little Micra sheds its earlier avatar for something that’s pleasing to the eyes and modern. The complete front end wears a whole new look and on the road, for the common man, this will be seen as a whole new car. The bigger and swept back headlamps as compared to the earlier round ones look great and so does the new grille, gelling in well with the new bumper. Design cues work well but the moment you look at the side profile, the earlier Micra starts ringing in your head. But then again, to keep development costs low, the side profile couldn’t really be played around. The new look alloy wheels and wheel caps (for non XV Premium models) do look nice though.

The rear of the new Micra also gets a face-lift but just about. The LED tail lamps are a first in the segment and when lit up, do look trendy. Likewise, the new lip for the boot door is functional and helps shorter people access it easily. The rear bumper, as expected, also gets a re-design. We feel a chrome lip for the exhaust tip would have added further appeal as well.
Overall, the face-lift design is a lot more than what we Indians have been subjected to in the past by other companies. Personally, I love the new look and wouldn’t mind owning one personally.

The cabin feel

The Micra was always known for a spacious interior for a car of its size and that thankfully hasn’t changed. True you can’t seat a 6 foot tall individual behind another of the same height but for its segment, this car does offer good room. Step inside and you immediately notice the shift from the earlier car’s overly round theme. The central console for example gets a new design and color scheme, being done up in ‘piano black finish’ with silver lining. The lower part of the console, around the circular air-con controls also tapers in, giving a sporty look. The new look audio system also sounds better and the Micra now gets steering mounted controls for the audio system and Bluetooth connectivity. You also notice the new gear lever for the CVT models but more on this later.

The Micra’s twin glove-boxes add practicality but then again, Indians love to travel with families and this is where the lack of a bottle or cup holder at the back can be a slight issue. Also, compared to cars like the i20 or even the Brio, space for rear seat passengers isn’t really the best in class.

The drive

The new Micra continues to be powered by the same petrol and diesel engine options and the former will also get a segment first CVT gearbox. This is largely the same transmission also seen on the Sunny sedan but as expected, for the Micra, it has been tuned slightly differently to suit the smaller engine and lighter car.
Unlike conventional automatics, the magic about a CVT is that it completely eliminates any feedback during gear changes and thus making city drives a breeze. Madurai isn’t particularly a city with moving traffic and even with three adults on board, the Micra CVT felt happy pottering around the town. However, floor the pedal and the engine becomes noisy, making you lift off the throttle. Part throttle response is pretty good and this combined with a light steering makes the Micra a good city roundabout.
Nissan also claims that the CVT version is more efficient than the manual one (similar to the Nissan Sunny CVT being more efficient than manual version) and this is good news. Infact, the Micra CVT when launched, will be the most efficient automatic hatchback in the country!

The diesel Micra is for those who drive more than 1500km a month and want a good highway car. It is fairly relaxed in nature and easy on the wallet. We didn’t get to drive this version on the drive, but going by our past experience, can safely say that inspite of low figures on paper, the 1.5-litre dCi motor is one of the best around due to negligible turbo-lag.
Nissan will sell the petrol manual in two versions of XL and XL(o) while the petrol CVT will be sold only in the XV version. The diesel Micra will come in four versions of XL, XL(o), XV and XV Premium.

The comfort

The Micra is not an enthusiast’s car. It is meant for individuals who are looking for a fuss-free and easy to drive hatchback which will be used to ferry the complete family around. This is where this car simply shines. Seating posture along with good visibility makes this is a very good car, including for the fair sex. The steering is light and ergonomics perfect and you won’t really feel tired driving in rush hour traffic. Suspension, for the most part, felt adequate to take on both city roads as well as highway stints and though few critics may run down the car for lack of ‘feedback’, we feel that the 95% of customers won’t have a reason to complain.

Nissan is further offering aids like key less entry and start-stop, electric foldable mirrors, rear view camera et al to increase the convenience part. On the safety part, driver airbag is standard across all models and ABS is offered from the XL(o) version onwards. We also welcome the presence of drive computer across all versions, something that does help a driver adjust this driving style for improved economy.

The verdict

The new Micra is scheduled for launch in July with the car being available in showrooms immediately. This isn’t just a face-lift but a major revamp that aims to change the way we Indians looked at this model. It will appeal to a wider audience, thanks to better looks and a CVT option while the pricing is sure to keep rivals scratching their heads. The car has surely become a better package and we shall give our final judgment on the day the prices are revealed!

Want to look at other automatics in the country?
1. Honda Brio Automatic
2. Maruti Ritz Automatic
. Volkswagen Polo Automatic

Do glance over the specs and feature list of the new Micra



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