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REVIEW: Nissan's new premium Micra - worthy SA Car of the Year finalist?

2019-03-29 11:38
Nissan Micra

Image: Wheels24

Nissan's little Micra has evolved from a cute city car into a true premium hatchback. Its selection as a 2019 South African Car of the Year finalists is the testament to Nissan's perseverance and just how far the little Micra has transformed through the years.

Why the shift to premium? In SA, the upper B hatchback segment represents about 15% of the passenger vehicle market. It's only natural then that Nissan would want to take the fight to its rivals with its own premium hatch.

We drove Nissan's COTY finalist to find out whether it can walk-the-walk so to speak.

Design

In terms of its design, the current Micra shares little of its cutesy city car roots and is instead a stunning example of contemporary style. Gone are its bubble, rounded curves and in its place are angular lines and a sleek overall shape.

It's great to see Nissan take the fight to other premium offerings on the market with a great design. What do you think?

Nissan Micra

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Inside

The dashboard is replete with premium materials and a sleek modern design to the cabin. Nissan understands its target market (i e young professionals) as such the Micra has Bluetooth, Aux and USB connectivity as well as Satnav.

Nissan Micra

Much of the technology used by its crossover siblings, Qashqai and X-Trail, filters down to the new Micra, such as its drive-assist display.

Nissan Micra

Driving it

A single engine option is available - 0.9-litre (898cc) three-cylinder petrol capable of 66kW/140Nm mated to a five-speed manual. Fuel consumption is rated at 5.1-litres/100km with emissions of 115g/km.

In short, the Micra offers a great balance between an agile city car and practical hatchback. Driving within city limits is where the hatch shines as its surprisingly nippy enough to dart through traffic and its small profile and light, accurate steering makes parking a breeze. 

While you're not exactly going to be sprinting from robot-to-robot (and given fuel increases you really shouldn't), it presents a fantastic offering for its intended target market. 

Its stable through corners with minimal body roll provided you're not pushing the hatch too much.

Nissan Micra

The engine is responsive despite its low-capacity and its steering light and accurate. 

In terms of handling, the Micra is one of the best in its class, matched only by Ford's sportier Fiesta and the Mazda 2. Sadly, its engine range isn't as varied as its competitors.

Nissan has made technological leaps and bounds with its Micra to provide a fun-to-drive hatchback that's well suited for the urban jungle.

Is it worthy of its Car of the Year finalist status? A resounding yes.

The biggest negative for the Micra is that it faces incredibly tough, well-established competition. You only have to look at monthly sales figures to see - while a contender on paper - its rivals are increasingly more popular.

Its light, responsive steering matched to supple suspension and the peppy engine makes its quite an agile vehicle, a boon for first-time buyers.

Nissan Micra

Practical and safe

The boot boasts a generous 300 litres which can be increased to 1 004 litres when the 60:40 split rear seats are folded down.

It's also quite practical as there plenty of storage options throughout the car. Large items can be placed along the centre console which provides a handy spot for a cellphone and includes ambient lighting with USB sockets.

Nissan Micra

The Micra is fitted with six airbags and has seat belt warnings and seat belt height-adjustment for the front and rear.

Isofix child seats are standard, including in the front passenger seat.

In terms of driver-assists, it has Vehicle Dynamic Control, Anti-locking Braking System, Electronic Brake force Distribution and Hill Start Assist.

Nissan has stuck by its Micra through a tough sales period only to emerge and evolve its original bubble-shaped car with a true premium offering that's capable of taking on all local rivals.

Prices

Micra Visia - R242 900

Micra Acenta - R268 500

Micra Acenta Plus - R283 900

Micra Acenta Plus Tech - R299 900

Rivals

Volkswagen Polo

Ford Fiesta

Mazda 2

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Happy Friday in the Mazda2.

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Read more on:    nissan  |  south africa  |  new models  |  micra

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