By Wayne Gorrett
* micra [mahy-kruh], Greek mīkrón, noun.
A plural of micron – the millionth part of a metre.
So, quite small then? Fortunately, no-one seems to have told Nissan.
With its sights fixed firmly on Ford’s new Fiesta and Honda’s very good Jazz, the new, fifth-generation Nissan Micra was unveiled at the Paris motor show last week.
In a trend-bucking move away from mass-production of affordable ‘world’ cars (a practice that may now be left to its Datsun sub-brand), Nissan has designed and developed its new Micra specifically for the EU, the world’s largest B-Segment hatchback market.
Here in the UK, sales of the Micra supermini have dwindled in recent years while its competitors have long since moved on in terms of design and technology. Nissan are hoping for a revitalisation of sales for a car once loved by Britons but now whose ageing, blobby design appears only to attract the attention of a diminishing numbers of pensioners and cribbage club members.
Something radical was needed if the Micra name was to continue.
The new Micra is uninhibitedly styled to turn heads. It is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor and its chiselled exterior offers considerably more space inside. Now riding on an agile, re-engineered chassis the new Micra comes with a full complement of safety kit and connective tech.
The new Micra was designed to be much larger than its predecessor due to the gap that will be created by the departing Note from the EU market, the production of which will cease in early 2017.
Its design incorporates many of the current Nissan design cues including the distinctive V-grille, from where sharp crease lines run through to the rear ends boomerang-shaped lights. The floating roof effect of the C-pillar creates an airy feeling. The rear door handles are hidden in the trailing edge of the C-pillars and an extended roofline culminates in a spoiler.
The new Nissan Micra targets a younger demographic with ten new paint colours. With ‘personalisation’ still the current industry buzzword, additional exterior and interior options allow for the creation of 125 different variations, enabling new Micra owners to impart their own style in and out of the car (with apparent disregard to future used car values).
Inside, there’s a low driving position and the cars extended width and wheelbase translates into more cabin space and the new ‘gliding wing’ shaped dashboard imparts the feeling of greater cabin width.
In many ‘firsts’ for the busy B-segment, the new Micra sees the dripping down of on-board technology from larger more luxurious cars in the upper Nissan line-up.
New tech includes lane departure warning, emergency city braking with pedestrian recognition as well as Nissan’s around-view monitor, traffic sign recognition, high beam assist and blind spot warning. There’s a seven-inch full colour central display providing access to the audio system, navigation, mobile phone, downloadable apps and Siri voice control via Apple CarPlay.
With due deference again shown to its younger target market, there’s an all-new six-speaker ‘Bose Personal’ sound system, developed through close collaboration with Nissan.
At launch and like all the sharks in the maelstrom of supermini waters, the new Nissan Micra will be available with a 1.0-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and a 1.5-litre diesel, both developing 90hp. The range will later be joined by a naturally aspirated 73hp 1.0-litre petrol engine.
Prices should start at around £11,900 and the car will be built at the Renault plant in Flins, France, as part of the Renault Nissan Alliance. It is expected to go on sales in Europe from March next year.