The new 5th-generation Nissan Micra was recently launched in South Africa and while I had the opportunity to put foot to petrol in the new compact model I was completely taken aback (and not prepared) by what a head-turner this new hatchback turned out to be.
Heads turned on the road, heads turned when it was parked, heads turned everywhere.
The (slightly not so) little (anymore) hatchback I drove was a striking orange and that in itself was already a head turner but as eager Micra-admirers started to ask to look inside and asked if I could open the boot, I realised that the new Micra is bringing some extra excitement to the party, especially if it is being compared to the smaller – baby dung beetle look-alike – 4th generation Micra Active.
Nissan Micra: The Driving Experience
I received this car during a busy week of driving around and up-and-down, going here and there and picking up last minute things for my brother’s wedding (last minute things which included his jacket and my shoes on the day of the wedding, clearly the last minute tendency is in the genes). Thankfully, because of the nature of the week, as well as the location of the wedding, I zipped around in town, on highways and also on dirt roads and could get an all-round driving experience of the Nissan Micra.
It has a 5-speed manual 0.9 litre Turbo Petrol engine which pushes out 66kW of power and 114Nm of torque and is a smooth and consistent drive, giving quite a dynamic performance for that stop-and-start town situations; it handles comfortably on the long road and is well-insulated resulting in minimal noise. Plus, it did not freak out on a dirt road (and to be honest, I was rather impressed and I expected it to be less smooth). Thanks its micro engine you can save macro on fuel; it has a combined fuel consumption of 5.1 litres per 100 km/h and cruise control with adjustable speed limiter. When it comes to safety it boasts 6 airbags, hill start assist as well as Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Electronic Brake force Distribution (EBD) which detects extra weight in the back and adjusts brakes accordingly and of course ABS for those sudden cow-in-the-road braking situations.
There is a 7-inch touchscreen that’s fully integrated with your phone (mine connected via Bluetooth without hassles), a USB port and you can also get your driving info displayed in real time on the screen, from your speed and acceleration to fuel consumption and tire pressure (no more lying about how fast you were going when you have a difficult passenger next you).
While the boot has a capacity of 300 litres (which be extended to 1004 litres with the rear seats down) the overall cabin space gets a slight thumbs down from my side. As you are seated the modern dashboard and angle of windscreen has quite a spacious look and feel to it, but when a driver and passenger are seated next to each other it can feel a bit cramped – the center console is quite “boxy” as it is making space and headlining as a dedicated holder for your phone with a USB- and a 12V power socket. And personally, there was something off for me about the positioning of the two cupholders and the hand brake; especially if you are in the driver’s seat and want to go from taking a sip to putting your cup back in the holder without taking your eyes off the road. Perhaps if the cup holder was in the place of the “dedicated phone holder” (that’s by the gear lever) and there was an opening in the dash to slide your phone in, it would’ve been better?
Orange is the new black they say
The 5th generation Micra is known as the new bold member of the Nissan family and they say, “A sculpted body with strong and sharp character lines deliver an athletic and poised stance that’s hard to ignore.”
And that was clear from the head turns I saw as I drove around; but while you might think only millennials will look twice in the Micra’s funky direction, think again, the oohhs and ahhs from the younger generation might have been more but a few ooms and tannies also stared; it is hard to ignore. You can also personalise it with colour and decal kits designed to enhance the Micra’s already expressive exterior.
As the Energy Orange Micra was parked at my brother’s wedding it stood out like a splash of colour in a sea of dull-looking white and silver vehicles. Personally I’d rather go for the Passion Red than the Energy Orange (which reminds me a bit of the pumpkin I didn’t want to eat as a child), but to each his own.
Let’s talk Moola
The all-new Nissan Micra enters the competitive market of B-segment cars and is up against the likes of Renault Clio, VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and Hyuandi i20. The starting price of the basic Micra Visia (the one without the 7-inch display) is R233 500, the Micra Acenta starts at R257 400 and the mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-fanciest-of-them-all is the Micra Acenta Plus which starts at R272 400; and all come with a 3-year/90 000 km service plan.
And yes, the pricing of the 5th generation Micra is quite a bit steeper if compared to the Micra Active (starting price R169 200) but don’t fret or fear because the affordable Micra Active is going nowhere.
One last thought
The Nissan Micra Acenta Plus with all its built-in goodies is just a few thousand more than the VW Polo 1.0 TSI Comfortline, which has a slightly oomphier engine but lacks the modern comforts of a multi-function display, USB interface and aircon (all can be added for extra a bit of extra moola in the Polo). But in the end it all boils down to personal choice and style… do you want a reliable vanilla looking vehicle or, are you ready to be bold, different a bit more daring?
Get all the Nissan Micra details here: www.nissan.co.za.
Thank you Nissan for the opportunity to drive one of your vehicles.