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Nissan Micra

Broadcast dates : 29th August 2004
2nd September 2004

Micra-speak is a language that Nissan has evolved to celebrate the most exciting new car the company has launched in decades.

The Micra is said to embody the Mod-tro look, combining strikingly modern elements such as the headlights, with a retro overall shape, reminiscent of cars like the old Morris and Austin light cars of the 1940s.

The very neat trick that Nissanís styling centre has managed is that the car does not look like a caricature of previous models, a criticism that has been leveled, for instance, at Volkswagenís New Beetle.

And every centimeter of sheet metal is used to maximize the use of interior space while keeping the overall dimensions small to fulfill its city car roll.

The overall length is just 3,7 metres, but the tall dome-shaped roof makes this car a genuine four-seater.

The Most striking feature of the Micra from a visual point of view is definitely the large ovoid-shaped front headlight clusters. These feature a follow-me home option which can be switched to stay on for two minutes after the car is locked.

The rear light clusters are also interesting, featuring a "jeweled" look and there is a very visible third brake light mounted high in the rear hatch windows.

To keep costs down, the Micra is offered with steel wheels and hupcaps, although alloy wheels can be ordered as an extra-cost option.

Weighing in at less than a thousand kilograms, the Nissan Micra is fitted with a 1,4-litre four cylinder petrol engine producing a useful 65 kiloWatts.

Nissanís engineers in England, where this engine is built, concentrated on giving the car torque at low revs. It produces 128 Newton metres at 3 200 rpm.

Transmission is to the front wheels through a five-speed manual gearbox,

This gives the Micra a useful turn of performance and the company claims a sub-12 second zero to 100 acceleration time, and a top speed of 172 km/h.

Even more important for a city car, overall fuel consumption is claimed at just 6,3 litres per 100 km.

The Nissan Micra is available here in two trim levels. And like other city cars recently launched, such as the Citroen C2, Nissan has gone for an up-spec interior on both models.

Both the "Comfort" and "Elegance" models have electric power steering as standard, and driver and passenger front airbags.

Our test vehicle was the more-expensive elegance version. This model adds side-thorax airbags to the safety mix, which also include pre-tensioned seat belts and ABS braking on both models.

There are ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the passenger seats.

Both models come with electric front window lifts, with standard winders for the rear windows. The Elegance version adds air-conditioning to the comfort mix, as well as leather trim panels on the seats.

The driverís seat has height adjustment and steering wheel controls for the audio system. A CD-radio is standard with six-speakers on the elegance model.

An interesting touch is a battery saver device that will switch off the interior lights if they are accidentally left on, after a few minutes.

Another Mod-tro touch is the use of ceramic-look switches for the radio and ventilation control knobs, although these are of course made of plastic.

The entire interior is given a soft-touch feel in the trim, the dash using a resin-impregnated material that avoids the cheap plastic look so often common in light cars.

And the trip computer features a reminder system to help remember important dates such as birthdays, business meetings and wedding anniversaries!

Seating layout has also been given lots of thought in the Micra. The front passenger seat features a handy storage compartment under the seat squab.

The rear seat slides backwards through a long range. This enables Micra owners to opt for more rear passenger space or luggage space.

Mothers of young children may appreciate the rear seat being able to slide right up against the front seats, enabling them to easily attend to their children in a child seat, without having to reach too far.

And the seats also fold flat at the rear for increased luggage space.

There is a full range of storage compartments scattered around the cabin, and the door pocket and grab rail design picks up on the Mod-Tro look of the exterior.

A combination of short overhangs, light weight and peppy performance makes the Micra a zippy device for city use, as does the conventional strut suspension in front and the torsion beam suspension at the rear.

And the electric power assistance for the steering makes life easy on the driver.

Priced at just under R133 000, the Micra elegance is not cheap, but it has a lot to offer in a small attractive package.

And its funky city presence will go a long way to further shrug off the dowdy image that Nissan was stuck with over the past few decades.

Nissan Micra Elegance
  • Engine: Four-cylinder petrol, 1 386 cc
  • Power: 65 kW @ 5 200 rpm
  • Torque: 128 Nm @ 3 200 rpm
  • 0-100 km/h: 11,9 seconds (claimed)
  • Top Speed: 172 km/h (claimed)
  • Fuel consumption: 6,3 litres/100 km (claimed) 
  • Price: R132 747

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