dates : 29th August 2004
2nd September 2004
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
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
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
There are ISOFIX child seat mounting points on the passenger
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
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
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
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
- Top Speed: 172 km/h
- Fuel consumption: 6,3
litres/100 km (claimed)
- Price: R132 747
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