2010 Nissan Micra - Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Car Tested: 2010 Nissan Micra XV

Price OTR Mumbai: 6,11,222/-

Nissan has been in India since a few years with limited products in their portfolio. Nissan’s range revolves around high end cars such as the Nissan Teana, Nissan X trail, and the recently launched sports car, the 370Z, all of which are imported as completely built units thereby justifying their price tags. India has emerged as the fastest growing automobile market in the world and the small car segment is boiling with almost unlimited options and Nissan adds another quality product to their portfolio in the form of the Nissan Micra, a small car which was perhaps the most awaited launch of the year. Nissan has high expectations from the Micra since it is the first of its mass production cars in India based on the all new ‘V Platform’. We drive the Nissan Micra and judge for ourselves.

Exteriors – The Micra has a typical love it or hate it appearance. Few have even branded its looks as feminine. All said and done, the Micra has a classic road presence and that can be given to its bubbly looks, though its takes some time before it grows on you. The Micra’s design has a wee bit of retro feel to it, unlike other cars in the segment. The front headlamps resemble eyes popping out of the bonnet and the top variant we tested has fog lamps as standard. Alloys wheels are not even an option on the top variant and puny 165/70/14 tyres do well do get ARAI figures of 18.06 kmpl. One cant help but notice the boomerang shaped roof, which is not only aerodynamic but also reduces wind noise at high speeds.

The side profile highlights the large windows. The rear windows goes down completely and this his is quite thoughtful especially since the rear bench in most small cars feels cramped and claustrophobic. The rear glass size is generous but thick C pillars compromise the rear visibility. Rear wipers are standard on the top variant. Another thoughtful touch to the rear wiper is that it can be used in two speeds, continuous and intermittent, very convenient in the rains. Taillight cluster looks a bit obsolete and seems to bear close resemblance to the one seen on the old Alto. The lower right corner of the boot bears the badge ‘Micra’. We were driving the top of the line XV variant and to our surprise ‘XV’ was not mentioned anywhere. The Micra is equipped with the i-key, an intelligent key, which may be in your pocket or bag (within 3 feet of the car) and to unlock the door one needs to press the request sensor, a small black button located on both front door handles and just above the boot handle and tug at the handle.

Interiors – Step in and though the classification suggests that the Micra is a small car, it is generously spacious on the inside. The interior quality is definitely more upmarket than the competitors. Two tone grey colored dashboard looks neat and the silver finished centre console is not only looks good but adds a classy feel to the interiors. There are no prizes for noticing that the interiors have been given a circular theme by Nissan. Be it the circular air conditioning vents or the instrument cluster in the centre console which controls the automatic climate control.

The three spoke steering wheel feels good to hold as it has grooves which accommodate your thumb in the driving position. The name ‘Nissan’ is neatly carved out of plastic in the centre. We are told that this will be replaced with a chrome Nissan badge in the production model (we were provided with a pre production model). Chrome door handles feel rich and look classy. The instrument cluster is easy to read and the multi information display shows real time average and distance to empty. Fuel indicator is digital and the temperature gauge is somehow absent.

Unexpectedly, the front left sun visor is devoid of the mirror and surely the ladies wont be too happy with that.

The Micra is the only car in the segment which offers electrically foldable and electrically adjustable outside rear view mirrors. Turn on the car and them mirrors unfold automatically and vice versa. Nissan has also equipped the Micra with push button start, a feature which is usually seen in high end luxury cars. We will come to that a bit later. These features may be more ‘show than go’ but they certainly differentiate the Micra from the others. The music system is aided with Aux connectivity and one can connect their iPod or music phone to it directly. Sound quality is average. Nissan commitment for safety is highlighted by the fact that even the basic version is fitted with drivers side airbags, a contrast to Maruti Suzuki wherein the top end swift diesel is still pleading for airbags.

Storage is plenty. Cup holders in front of the gear lever are easily accessible and the door pockets could have been just a little bit bigger. The top version comes with two glove compartments and a small niche between them for additional storage. Though two in number, the glove compartments are a bit small for practical usage.

The rear bench looks roomy due to the large sized windows, which can be completely rolled down. All four power windows are standard on the top variant and the driver’s side window is equipped with one touch up/down feature with anti pinch functionality (the window will stop rolling up in case your hand comes in the way). Pretty neat indeed. Head room is decent for a tall person but the integrated rear seat headrests are hardly there and a long drive can test your neck muscles to the fullest. Leg room is adequate, a tad bit more than the average for the segment.

Boot space measures up to 251 lt and is again above the average in the segment. The rear seats don’t have 60 – 40 split ratio but can be folded completely to fit in that extra luggage.

Built Quality – Nissan has built the Micra to last and there are not many reasons to complain on this. The doors shut with a loud thud indicating that Nissan has kept some quality control in the manufacturing process. The suspension soaks up most of the bumps and jerks, The Micra’s suspension has been softened top meet the requirements set by Indian road conditions. The Micra is the first of the cars to provide for drivers side airbag, even in the base variant. The Micra is well put together too, not one rattle heard. Plastics feel upmarket and even the silver center console does not feel cheap. The cabin is well damped and Nissan has used an oval crank pulley mounting for its 3 cylinder engine and hence there is no vibration or humm felt at idling.

On the Move – Make sure the key fob is in your pocket, press the request sensor on the door handle and tug on the door and it will open. The key fob has to be within 3 feet of the sensor for it to spring into action. Supposing one is at the driver side door (with the key fob) and someone tugs at the front passenger door, it will not budge. Smart. Both front doors and the boot handle are equipped with request sensors. Boot opener is missing on the inside and can be opened only from the outside.

Another feature which sets the Micra apart from the others is push button start. Just left to the steering is the ‘Start/Stop’ button. Lets get into the basics of this system before we proceed. Firstly the key fob has to be in the car, the car wont start if its outside. Clutch the car and press the ‘Start’ button and the engine comes to life. The button has to be gently pressed only once, one need not keep it pressed till the car starts. If you want to listen to music while the car is off,  just tap the button without pressing the clutch and the car will be on ‘Ignition’ mode. Depressing the clutch works as a safety mechanism to prevent starting the car by mistake. Another observation we made was that once you start the car and get out (with the key fob) the engine wont turn off but the Micra will give you warning beeps indicating that the key fob is on the outside. Out test car was equipped with Automatic Climate Control system and the car cooled off in no time. The A/c works just perfect and full marks to Nissan on that.

Start the car and immediately one notices that engine is not very vocal at idling seed. A 3 cylinder engine is usually very noisy at start up, something classically seen in the VW Polo. No vibration felt either. Slot the car in first gear and we are away. The steering feels extremely light once you pick up some speed and the Micra does well in city traffic considering the light steering inputs feel effortless but steering feedback could have been better. Floor it past 4000 RPM there is some amount of vibration felt but the car accelerates as per our liking. Overtaking slow moving traffic is not much of a problem. Low end power could have been better but overall the Micra does well as a city car.

Ride, Handling and Braking – Nissan has softened the suspension for a smooth ride over the treacherous road conditions we are subjected to. Light steering means the car is nippy and is easier to manouvre through city traffic and a turning radius of 4.65 meters only helps. Handling is sharp but the tires give up soon and spoil the show. The top variant we tested was equipped with ABS and BA (braking assist) and though the ABS and BA kick in instantaneously, the puny 165/70/14 tires tend to lose grip on hard braking. A tire upgrade is sure to sort this out. Brakes are responsive with minimal play. Overall, commendable ride and handling.

Performance – Due to tax benefits most manufacturers are tuning into 1.2 ltr engines and since fuel efficiency is more of a concern to the Indian buyer, a 3 cylinder engine is the ideal compromise between power and efficiency. The Micra is powered by a 1.2 ltr DOHC 3 cylinder petrol engine which churns out 75 BHP @ 6000 rpm and 104 NM Torque @ 4000 rpm. Low end grunt is not the best but the acceleration is good above 2000 rpm. The Micra gives 18.06 kmpl as per ARAI but practically speaking we expect the Micra to deliver 14 – 15 kmpl in regular city driving, which is pretty good. Floor the engine and the Micra hits 120 comfortably, keep it floored and it accelerated towards 140 but then you back off as the tires don’t give you enough confidence to push beyond. Thanks to the Renault – Nissan alliance, a diesel engine is just around the corner and the diesel Micra will be powered by a 1.5 ltr diesel which is currently serving the Logan.

Conclusion – Nissan has got it bang on with the Micra, be it the pricing or top of the line features. ABS, airbags, music system with aux, push button start, i key, tilt adjustable steering, all 4 power windows are all packed into one, giving the Micra the edge over the competition. Its a great city car in terms of driveability and fuel efficiency. Roomy interiors with good quality plastics just add to the overall persona of the car. Nissan offers a 2 yrs/50,000 km warranty which can be extended to 4 yrs/80,000 km. The only thing which goes against the Micra is the thin dealership network and unknown service costs. Nissan is slowly but steadily expanding its dealerships across the country and its just a matter of time but by all means, the Micra is bound to give the competition some sleepless nights.

What’s Cool

  • Push Button Start
  • i key
  • Drivers side airbag standard across all variants
  • Low turning radius
  • Retro looks
  • Nippy handling and light steering

What’s Not So Cool

  • Lack of a strong dealer network
  • Puny tires
  • Lack of neck support for rear seats
  • Unknown service costs
  • No diesel variant as yet