Nissan Micra CVT Review
Car Tested: 2015 Nissan Micra X-Shift XL CVT Limited Edition
Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 7.92 lakhs
The Micra CVT is the perfect hatch for town, XL variant makes it much more affordable
What happens when you suddenly get to know that a company is about to launch a new car at a totally different event of the same company? Well things become a lot more exciting. This is what exactly happened with us when we were at the Nissan GT Academy Finals in Chennai. Considering how popular automatic cars are gradually becoming in India, the Japanese automaker has decided to update its hatchback, the Micra. The little car came with an option of a CVT gearbox albeit only in the top-end petrol variant which made it a little costly for many people. This has prompted Nissan to add the auto transmission to the mid-range trim. But is that the only change? Read on to find out.
Motor Quest: The Nissan Micra is the only hatchback in the country currently which offers an option of four airbags in the top-end diesel variant. Hyundai offered it with the older i20 but discontinued it this time around due to low demand.
The Nissan Micra CVT now comes in the mid-variant that is XL. While the standard variant gets a few mechanical and visual changes, it is the limited edition X-Shift variant which gets a lot of visual changes. One look at the limited edition and one can easily spot a lot of changes. The Micra X-Shift sports a matte black wrap on the roof which adds to the looks along with two matte black stripes on either sides of the car. The X-Shift sticker sits on the front left side door and looks like a clear afterthought. The front end of the car remains exactly the same and gets no changes while the rear end gets a chrome exhaust finisher as a part of the X-Shift package. The top-end XV X-Shift variant gets reverse parking sensors in addition to the other features. These subtle updates add a bit of character to the Nissan Micra and contrast well with most body colours.
Coming to the interiors, it gets its fair share of changes too. The Nissan Micra Limited Edition gets the same steering wheel seen in its elder sibling Sunny and both the CVT variants get steering-mounted audio controls which adds to the convenience factor. The new steering feels good in the hands and is chunky. Shift the focus a bit towards the left and you would wonder what has changed. The XL CVT variant gets the Bluetooth enabled music system seen in the XV variant and the XL Comfort variant currently. The USB and the AUX port is located right above the glovebox and there’s a storage space next to it to store the mobile or the iPod without them being exposed to the sun. Thoughtful! Handrests on all four doors get a silver finish as a part of the X-Shift package which contrasts well with the greige interior scheme. An armrest has been added for the driver in the XL CVT variant too considering the left hand stays idle most of the time. Chrome door handles also add a touch of premiumness. That said, the plastic quality of the interiors remains the same and it isn’t really up to the mark.
The Micra XL CVT makes city driving a breeze with only 750 units of the Limited Edition available
The main change lies under the hood and that comes in the form of an all new CVT gearbox which Nissan likes to call the fourth generation CVT gearbox. The company has worked on the gremlins of the old gearbox and have been successful in removing most of those. While the older CVT gearbox was great for pottering around town, it fared poorly on the open roads where it took its own sweet time to respond to throttle inputs. However, in this improved avatar, the gearbox is eager to respond to throttle inputs and does get the car moving fast if you pin the accelerator down to the floor. The typical rubber band effect associated with all CVT gearboxes is present in this one too but, it is much lesser than the old version and most customers wouldn’t find it odd. Those who like to drive enthusiastically would be a little disappointed though because on full throttle inputs, the RPM needle rises to 5500 RPM and it stays there. The sound, rather noise of the engine stays the same since there are technically no gears to go through. The engine note although decent for a motor of this size, would make one feel awkward due to constant presence at higher revs. The claimed mileage is an impressive 19.74 km/l and one will easily get around 12 km/l in the real world.
What seriously impressed us was the way the Nissan Micra performed on the track. Getting into the driver’s seat, we had our preconceived notions that with puny tyres and comfort oriented suspension, the car would be all around the place on the track. But, we were in for a surprise. Taking corners at relatively high speeds felt effortless and the MRF tyres weren’t complaining. Straight line stability at triple digit speeds has always been good in the Micra and it is no different in this variant either. The steering too felt decently weighted at higher speeds but quick direction changes were a bit difficult because it wouldn’t give you enough confidence and feedback. The XL CVT also gets the Sport mode but it doesn’t really make a big difference. An excellent addition to the new variant is ABS which makes braking much better and safer. Driver airbag is standard on all variants of the hatchback with the top-end petrol variant getting a passenger-side one too.
Overall, the Nissan Micra is a great car for anyone looking to potter around town and the CVT gearbox adds a whole lot of convenience to the daily drive. If one is looking to rip the engine at every occasion, they are better off looking at other options like the Honda Brio or the Volkswagen Polo GT TSI. The new variant, XL CVT makes owning an automatic a tiny bit cheaper and comes with a host of features which make it a complete car in most senses. Features like the ABS and driver side airbag are well appreciated whereas the X-Shift specific additions will appeal to the young at heart audience. All in all, a good buy at the price point it is offered at considering the Hyundai Grand i10 which is the nearest rival in terms of price misses out on the safety features that the Micra offers.
The Nissan Micra’a popularity has diminished drastically in India and although it’s a very good hatchback, the Japanese car simply can’t compete with newer rivals which offer something more. With the X-Shift Limited Edition, Nissan has tried to boost the appeal of the Micra and it works to a certain extent.
* Frugal automatic car, returns more mileage than its petrol counterpart
* Spacious and feature rich hatchback, doesn’t compromise on the safety front
* New XL mid variant brings affordability to the automatic hatchback
What’s Not So Cool
* Quite dated now, can’t match new rivals in either exterior or interior design
* Engine strictly for city use, lacks the punch for highway driving
Alternatives: Honda Brio AT, Hyundai Grand i10 AT
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