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Budget beater: Nissan launches Micra Active in SA

2017-09-21 10:04

Image: Motorpress

Charlen Raymond

Gold Reef City - The Nissan Micra has been on South African roads for the better part of the last decade. Since the first generation came to market in 2004 it became a popular buy for budget-conscious consumers

The second-generation, launched in 2011, continued to build on the city car's value-proposition; albeit under the radar when compared to the Volkswagen Polo Vivo and Toyota Etios.

In 2018, Nissan will launch its next-generation Micra in South Africa. As a send-off, the automaker has added a new derivative to the existing range - the Active.

Budget for package

Priced at R159 900, Nissan positioned the Micra Active as its primary weapon in its budget-beating arsenal catering to first-time buyers and small families. Included in the price is a three-year or 90 000km service plan, as well as a six-year or 150 000km warranty.

The Micra Active also looks subtly different to the rest of the range; it has redesigned head- and taillights, and reworked front and rear bumpers forming part of the change. As an optional extra worth R8500, Nissan will kit the Micra Active in a Trendsetter Pack. The body kit adds black alloy wheels, a rear fin, mud flaps and a chromed finish for the exhaust tip. 

Same engine

Nissan did not increase the 1.2-litre engine’s power and the car has the same output as the Micra Visia+: 56kW/104Nm. Nissan claims the Micra Active will return 5.2-litres/100km, which should, theoretically, give it a fuel range of 789km on its 41-litre fuel tank. Power is sent to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox. The 0-100km/h sprint takes a leisurely 13.2 seconds and top speed is claimed at 166km/h.

On the road

The first part of the launch required drivers to complete a gymkhana. The short, twisty track in the Gold Reef City parking area focussed on the Micra Active’s handling characteristics. Nissan says that the car has a turning circle of 4.6m, which is pretty tight for its class.

Driving through the cones the steering had a bit of weight on it but it somewhat masked just how manoeuvrable the Active really is. Even entering a tight parking space was an easy task thanks to its agility.

The launch continued through Soweto, driving through the busy, bustling streets. We also had a brief drive up Vilakazi Street and past the home of Nelson Mandela!

The open road highlighted that the Micra Active is nearing the end of its life-cycle and the engine felt less sprightly than some of the other cars it’s competing against. Though the transmission engaged gears without any hassle, the engine felt under strain and as if it was working too hard to get going. Going over speed bumps or accelerating from a slow, rolling position required engaging a lower gear for the engine to get going again.

New infotainment system

At the launch, Nissan highlighted that for the launch period it will add a 7” high-definition touchscreen to the Micra Active’s interior at no extra cost. After the launch period, which will be running for about three months, this offer will be scrapped and would prospective buyers have to part with R8500 if they want this system installed.

In addition to playing music from a USB, Bluetooth and CDs, the infotainment system can also read DVDs, Div-X videos, and MP4s. It also has a built-in hard drive onto which you can store your favourite music, photos and movies. In collaboration with TomTom, the satnav can also relay real-time traffic information.

The cloth used to adorn the seats is also new and does the car feature front electric windows like the Micra Visia+. The side mirrors and rear windows have to be operated manually. The air con does have a strong blowing action and was competing with the 30+ degree Jo’burg temperatures a forgotten memory.

Understanding the purpose

The Nissan Micra was never a car that should be over the top or overly extravagant. Instead it should just offer an honest deal that is not hard on your budget. And in this regard Nissan managed to do just that: kit the Micra Active with enough ammunition to once again show that practiciality and good tech does not have to come at a premiuim.

*In the coming six months, leading into the new year, Nissan will renew or extend five of its model ranges. This includes the new Micra coming early 2018.

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