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There’s a new supermini in the hood and it’s designed to turn heads. The Micra isn’t a new car - originally it hit the roads in the early 80’s.
Locally, I recall the launch of what was the third generation Micra in 2002. This was the first time the South African market received the Micra. It was a revolutionary design at the time that helped the compact hatchback stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, the fourth generation wasn’t as visually dynamic. In fact, it’s been around since 2010 and eight years on, it’s looking tired. Thankfully, the fifth generation has its groove back.
Out with the circular and bubble-like design inspiration of the previous Micas. Now, the new Micra is born sharp and angular. The design is very distinctive, albeit similar to Toyota’s funky C-HR crossover.
Highlights of the design that flow from the outside into the inside of the new Micra are colour-coded design enhancements - side mirrors, running rails on the bottom of the doors, bumper details and on the inside - rear view mirror housing and dashboard covering. The comfortable seats are not forgotten - with interesting fabric being used.
The look and feel of the Micra screams playful exuberance. Not to be mistaken for a young person’s car. The Micra is mature from an engineering perspective. It is loaded with a host of technologies that includes safety. Things like seven airbags and an entire alphabet of acronyms for these features that keep all four wheels on the road. On the inside lies the touchscreen infotainment system that takes centre stage. This nifty system is multifunctional and easy to use. Not perfect as you need to properly press each button and the screens resolution could be higher.
The Micra’s ease of use is a strong point. Steering is very light as is acceleration and braking.
Locally, the Micra range is driven by one engine - a compact 0.9-L 3-cylinder, turbocharged petrol motor. This thrumming little gem endows the Micra with a modest but adequate 66kW/140Nm. It will get you hitting 100km/h 12 seconds. All new Micra’s are sold with a light, shifting 5-speed manual gearbox. There is no automatic option at this stage. Strategically, this is a sound decision – as the engine is petite, it has little to no power at pull off. This isn’t much of an issue in a manual car as you can gently increase the rev’s at pull off, which will bypass this flat spot at pull offs.
Depending on your budget and appetite for aesthetic enhancements and technology, you have a choice between the entry-level Visia, followed by the cherry in the range (in my option), the Acenta and then the flagship Acenta Plus, which is a bit pricey.
The Micra has a lot of strong points, but there are some weaker points too. The space in the back is tight, especially headroom. There are wind-up windows in the back too. Yes really! And the boot functionality is okay not having a flat loading bay when the seats are lowered flat.
Overall, this is a good effort from Nissan. The Micra is well-rounded. In my opinion, it isn’t the best car in its supermini segment – I think the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta are better all-rounders. But the category has over 12 brands to pick from.
I’d shortlist and consider buying the Micra.
Ford Fiesta, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Opel Corsa, Peugeot 208, Renault Clio, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and the Suzuki Baleno.
Visia R233 500
Acenta R257 400
Acenta Plus R272 400
The service and warranty
The Micra is sold with a 3 year/90 000km service plan.
Acenta R257 400
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