Nissan unveiled its new Micra, the fourth generation of the iconic city car, at the Geneva Motor Show.
“The car has to charm a global audience,” an associate product chief designer told us in Geneva. “Its face had to look stylish and have an air of sophistication to it.”
Another Nissan executive explained the unique design feature of this car is its double-layer integrated grille meets the aforementioned requirements. But the car’s classic shape was also crucial. That’s why it also employs a stylised version of the distinctive arched side window line, something that is central to the Micra’s heritage, identity and appeal in Europe and Japan.
Retaining its compact dimensions, the new car is slightly longer and marginally lower, while its longer wheelbase enables a ‘wheels-at-each-corner’ stance, the main reason behind the Micra’s roomier interior.
Aiming to create the same sense of exterior style inside the car, Nissan has employed a ‘connected cocoon’ design featuring a dashboard design which takes on a ‘twin bubble’ theme. This refers to the circular instrumentation binnacle and the similarly shaped glovebox compartment on the passenger side.
In Europe, a simple engine line-up will see just two engines options – both are variations on Nissan’s all-new naturally aspirated HR12 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine. Inheriting its DNA from the HR16 4-cylinder engine powering the Note and Qashqai, the new engine employs valve-timing control (VTC ). Power is rated at 59kW, while torque output is 108Nm. At only 115g/km, CO2emissions for this version are world-class.
In addition to the new normally aspirated engine, Nissan will also offer a supercharged 1.2-litre direct injection iteration with a start-stop system fitted as standard in Europe. These technological innovations – stop-start reduces CO2 by six per cent – combine to offer spirited performance, with outputs of 72kW (98PS ) and 142Nm of torque. Emissions will be just 95g/km, an exceptional achievement for a petrol engine.
Both engine options in Europe are available with either a five-speed manual gearbox or Nissan’s new continuously variable transmission (CVT ). The wide gear coverage enables the 1.2-litre engine to achieve the economy of a 1.0-litre as well as brisk acceleration.
Mounted onto Nissan's new signature V-platform, the suspension has been designed to be compact, minimising intrusion at the rear for maximum trunk space, but not at the expense of the car's on-road dynamics. Particular attention has been paid to bump absorption, meaning that the Micra will ride serenely over challenging road surfaces, not suffer from wallow or float, and cruise effortlessly at highway speeds.
In contrast to its higher speed capability, Nissan points to the new Micra's superb visibility and a class-topping turning radius of 4.5m and several new technologies that assist with minimising CO2 emissions and mileage while at the same time making parking easier.
As always, different markets get varying equipment levels, but the new Micra is available with some key technological innovations which are designed to simplify day-to-day life for its owners. Nissan quotes examples that new Micra is available with the option of reversing sensors and a new ‘parking space measurement’ device with three skill levels (amateur, normal and expert ) to lessen the burden of parking in tight spaces – a unique feature in this segment, and likely to be a popular innovation in Europe where ‘touch parking’ is a way of life. On the security side, the car is also fitted with a speed-sensitive automatic door locking system.
Nissan says the incorporation of the V-platform is one major factor contributing to the car's improved impact safety. The car is designed to absorb the forces of a frontal impact, thanks to the sophisticated crumple zones, while maintaining cabin integrity due to its highly reinforced body shell. In Europe, the Micra will be fitted with ABS, dual front airbags, curtain and side airbags, electronic stability programme and pretensioner seatbelts as standard equipment.
Simon Thomas, Nissan’s European senior vice president for sales and marketing, told the assembled press in Geneva: “The new Micra will continue to be the benchmark city car in Europe. Its appeal will be enhanced by its unique combination of compact exterior dimensions, with roomy interior, small and efficient engines, and user-friendly technology. Its continued icon status is destined to be be reinforced in its fourth generation.”
European sales of the new Nissan Micra start in the autumn.