--
 
Top new models for SA

From Renault's new Alaskan bakkie to the latest models at the Frankfurt motor show bound for SA.

Electric cars in SA

The debate on whether or not Electric Vehicles (EV) are viable in South Africa rages on.

2004 Nissan Micra

2004-07-23 10:25

John Oxley

The five-door Micra features a mixture of Japanese retro and new wave avante guarde styling which sees high-mounted bug-eyed headlights, a rounded profile, and a matching rounded tail with a jewel-like rear light cluster.

Micra is available in two trim levels, Comfort and Elegance, and according to Nissan, is not aimed at the bottom end of the market.

"Micra was never designed to be a low-spec car," says Nissan SA's Gerhard Fourie.

Thus we see such items as air conditioning (automatic on the Elegance), electric windows for the driver and front passenger (with electric mirrors on the Elegance), dual airbags (plus front side bags in the Elegance), and speed sensitive electric power steering.

ABS brakes

There's also ABS braking with electronic brake force distribution and Brake Assist on both models, as well as a battery saver feature.

The Comfort models come with 14 inch steel wheels with plastic covers, shod with 165/70R14 tyres while Elegance versions get 15 inch steel wheels with 175/60R15 rtyres.

In addition Elegance models get a trip computer which shows such items as outside temperature, average fuel consumption and fuel range, plus such handy items as birthday and service reminders, and it also gets a leather-covered steering wheel.

There are also height-adjustable seats with lumbar support adjustment on the driver's side. Both models have tilt adjustable steering.

A front-loader CD player/radio is fitted on both models as standard, but the Comfort gets only four speakers while the Elegance has six, and the latter also gets satellite audio controls on the steering wheel, as well as rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

Interior

The interior, like the outside, is stylish and funky, with a neat instrument binnacle containing speedo and revcounter plus water temperature and fuel gauges sitting in a "bubble" atop the dashboard, and lots of stowage space including a "secret" compartment beneath the front passenger seat squab.

The Micra has a sliding rear bench seat which allows good legroom for big chaps in its rearmost position - at the expense of luggage room, of course.

Nissan claims three adults can sit in the back, but they'd have to be very small, for the Micra is a narrow car, with front passengers almost rubbing shoulders.

With the rear seat back luggage capacity is 251 litres, rising to 371 litres with the seats pushed forward to the point where only children can be accommodated in the back.

Here's also a 60/40 split for the folding rear seat which maximises load space at 584 litres.

Engine

Both models are powered by the same 1.4-litre four cylinder all-aluminium 1 386 cc 16-valve double overhead camshaft petrol engine equipped with variable timing control (VTC). It develops 65 kW at 5 200 r/min and 128 Nm of torque at 3 200 r/min, with a five-speed short-shift manual gearbox.

Suspension sees a sub frame-mounted strut-type layout at the front and a twist beam axle with trailing arms at the rear.

Claimed sea level top speed is 172 km/h with 0-100 km/h acceleration at 11.9 seconds. There's a 46 litre fuel tank and average fuel economy of 6.3 litres/100 km.

 

The Micra, in Elegance trim with four airbags, scored 4 stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests.

First glance

The Micra doesn't come cheap, and it's up against some tough competitors, such as the Volkswagen Polo, the Opel Corsa, the Citroen C3 1.4, Renault Clio 1.4, Ford Fiesta - why, it even competes at the bottom of the Toyota RunX range.

And it's definitely the smallest competitor in terms of interior space - especially against the Citroen - while not really performing in such areas as ride quality, handling, and especially interior trim levels.

I was astounded to find that all the surfaces are of hard plastic - including the door trim panels - while the modern trend is towards soft-touch materials.

Nissan's looking for 400 sales a month.

The Micra is built in England at Nissan's Sunderland plant, and comes with a 3 year/100 000 km warranty and 15 000 km service intervals.

Prices

Nissan Micra 1.4 Comfort R123 500; Elegance R132 747.

NEXT ON WHEELS24X

Inside Wheels24

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.