The New Nissan Micra based on the new V platform really aims to deliver what Nissan engineers call the Micra DNA which consists of three key points – easy to drive and park, reliability and overall user friendliness. It’s a car that’s really designed to combat the heavily congested city streets and is designed to deliver a driving experience which is a little less stressful in the Micra. So to start with, all variants of the Micra (XE, XE Plus, XL and the top-of-the-line XV) all come with an electric assist power steering as standard which really does make driving in the city so much easier. It also adjusts for tilt across all models and comes with a driver’s side Airbag as standard too. However, only the top-end XV gets a front passenger Airbag. Visibility is excellent all around with a slim A-pillar and even when you look back there’s no obstruction from the C-pillar making the glass area almost wraparound like. The sideview mirrors (electric adjust and auto fold are only on the XV) are large and provide for good visibility and there’s not too much of a blindspot.
The steering feels really good to hold and has grips on the 10/2 position and is slightly dished out. Although it feels great to hold, it does somewhat feels a tad too large. Even though the horn button on the steering is light and easy to use, we found that the horn itself is quite weak and the Micra desperately needs to have dual horns to cope with our country’s driving conditions. The instrument cluster is a fairly straightforward simple to read affair. There’s a speedometer that takes centerstage and the tachometer to its left. On the right of the speedometer are warning lights and a digital display which show the odometer and trip readings in addition to distance to empty and a real time fuel economy readout. This ‘Drive Computer’ as Nissan likes to call it, is a standard feature across all trim levels.
Cranking up the XV is a very un-hatch like experience. Here’s why. To begin with, the Intelligent Key (yes, it’s only on the XV trim) can nestle in your pocket and all you do is approach the car and open the door. Once in the car you’ll need to depress the clutch and hit the Start/Stop button to crank the engine. It’s a feature that’s unique to the segment and no other small car has this. On the move, the Nissan Micra is really quite refined and smooth. There’s almost no suspension noise that filters through, except when taking really large potholes and bumps. However, you will feel them more than you would in a European hatch and this is largely because of the fact that the Micra is much lighter in terms of build. The suspension is tuned for comfort and the Indian Micra has different suspension tuning than any of the other world-Micra’s to enable it to tackle bad roads and deliver a supple, comfortable and consistent ride quality. The car isn’t in the same league when it comes to handling at three digit speeds as some of the German cars are, but then the Micra’s environment is really city roads where it does quite well without shaking up its occupants even on bad surfaces.
The brakes on the car take a little getting used to. There is plenty of stopping power but there’s very poor pedal feel – almost soggy. This worked fairly well in stop start conditions where a little extra pressure on the pedal didn’t bring the car to a halt in a lurch, but brought it to rest in a slightly more composed manner. On the highway is where you need to keep this in mind and just hit the pedal a little harder. Mind you, there’s plenty of bite and the XV comes with ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. The other thing that we found was that there’s far less clutch pedal travel than what one is used to in other cars. It’s fairly light and easy, however, the pedal travel does take a little getting used to. The one other thing we missed was an actual dead pedal, even though Nissan has a slightly raised area next to the clutch to rest your foot on. Everything about the Micra is light and easy to use. The electric assist power steering is light at city speeds and does weigh up well on the highway at three digit speeds. The car is really quite happy being driven at 60kph in the fifth with a full compliment of passengers and doesn’t really struggle to accelerate as we’d thought it would. Out on the open road, the Micra is comfortable cruising in the fifth at 80kph with the engine turning over at 2500rpm and 100kph is just at 3000 rpm. Nissan India claims a fuel efficiency of 18.1kmpl as per the ARAI Indian driving cycle test.