By Clive Funizwe
The latest Nissan Micra is here to shake things up and upset the competition. It is a major step up from its predecessor – as it is now made in the same factory as the Renault Clio. Much of its platform and mechanical components are shared with the Clio and there is also evidence of similarities when you look at the general layout of the interior and lines of the exterior. We can wax lyrical about the pros and cons of shared manufacturing – but that will not be saying anything about the car and that would be a shame because there is a lot of impressive things about the new Micra and only a handful that are not… I mean we have to nit-pick.
Exterior and interior
It can be argued that this is the better-looking car in its segment. Its sharp lines and trendy design makes it unique and stands out without being shouty. Our test unit came in white – and that did not stop bystanders from throwing complimentary comments. You know a job is done well when a car retains its good looks in white.
The excitement continues with the interior. There are several colour schemes to choose from and our test unit was back with cream accents on the dashboard and seat trimmings. The trims were executed tastefully and added to the premium state of the interior. Overall build quality is similar to that of the top contenders in this segment but not enough to worry the class leader. This brings us to the slight draw backs that the Micra has. Even though this is not the range topping model, there are no electric windows or cupholders for the rear passengers. Sadly, this is still the case for the range topping Tekna Plus. The overall rear space is also not at a premium and this is made worse by the upward sloping rear window line which doesn’t help with the sense of space and light. Boot space is slightly smaller than the competition too. Moving upfront, we have one slight niggle too. An automatic transmission is not offered in any of the derivatives which means you are left with the 6-Speed manual option which has a gear lever that is cheap to the touch. The good news is that the bad ends there.
Tech and Safety
The Micra starts winning on its marginal competitive price and feature list. At a starting price of R311,100 the Acenta Plus comes with blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, intelligent around view (360 degree camera system) monitor with moving object detection, smart (keyless) entry with push start, intelligent lane departure warning, vehicle dynamic control and a sports suspension with a chrome exhaust finish for the exterior. These are not entirely common features in this price range. Safety features include (HAS) Hill Start Assist, Auto light system with auto hazards along with 6 airbags.
We also loved how the Micra drives. The Hill Assist occasionally got in the way when pulling off – but overall the drive was engaging, and we managed to get an average of 5.5l/100km from the 1.0 Turbo 84kW power plant. The ride quality had good balance in being comfortable on bumpy road surfaces and not losing composure around bends. Cabin isolation from outside noise was also impressive.
The sum of the Micra’s features and quality makes this a seriously compelling proposition to the ubiquitous, albeit class leading VW Polo. Admittedly, the Micra is not as mechanically polished and refined if we must split hairs and it also scores lower when it comes to space and practicality. It is however more exciting, arguably better looking and more likable. For buyers seeking an alternative to the VW Polo, Ford Fiesta and the Toyota Yaris this is a very good alternative – and one that must be on the shortlist of the prospective buyer. A 3 Year / 90,000km Service plan and 6 Year 150,000km Warranty come as standard.
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