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A new 1,0-litre engine transforms the Nissan Micra but this flagship model isn’t the obvious choice...

When we last tested the current-generation Micra back in August 2018, it failed to score a resounding thumbs-up from the CAR team. While we appreciated its design and praised the strong standard specification, its relative lack of refinement compared with the sophisticated VW Polo and Ford Fiesta came in for a fair deal of criticism. The tiny 0,9-litre triple – shared with the outgoing Renault Clio and until now the only engine on offer, but still on sale – is a surprisingly feisty performer that transmits too much noise, vibration and harshness into the otherwise serene cockpit.

Nearly two years into its model cycle locally, the Micra range recently underwent a nip and tuck. The biggest change, of course, is the addition of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s 1,0-litre turbopetrol engine. It’s available in three trim grades – Acenta Plus, Tekna and Tekna Plus, tested here – but only with a six-speed manual transmission. Will that hurt sales in a market segment flush with self-shifting options? Nissan SA says no but is planning to introduce an automatic option.

Let’s start with the new powerplant, then. A direct-injection unit, Nissan claims its delta cylinder head (narrower and lighter than traditional items) ensures the power unit is compact and light. The 1,0-litre’s power output of 84 kW is a segment-average figure, as is its maximum torque of 180 N.m available in a swathe from 1 750 to 4 000 r/min. Performance is middling and can’t match performance data we recorded with the equivalent Fiesta and Polo. The 13,18-second 0-100 km/h sprint time is a mere 0,26 seconds quicker than the 66 kW 0,9-litre’s figure and it’s barely swifter in-gear (in some increments, surprisingly slower).

Where the new engine is a vast improvement over the 66 kW is in refinement. The new option is much smoother on start-up, displays less turbo lag and sounds less strained approaching the redline. It feels quicker than its performance stats would suggest, too.

Another improvement is the six-speed transmission instead of the 66 kW’s five-speed unit. While the clutch’s biting point is still frustratingly high, the transmission changes cogs with an oiled, plugged-in feel making it a pleasure to stir the stubby gearlever.

All 1,0-litre models have a ride height dropped by 10 mm and firmer suspension tuning, ostensibly to offer a more dynamic driving experience. We’re normally left sceptical when we see such a claim in press material; those crucial comfort levels often suffer at the altar of “sportiness”. Thankfully, despite its revised suspension and serious rubber – 205/45 R17 Bridgestones – the Micra 84 kW strikes a sweet spot between cornering control and a ride which remains unruffled over most pockmarked surfaces. There’s an underlying firmness to this chassis, certainly, but most buyers should be pleased with the balance Nissan has set.

The steering is less impressive, being a touch vague at all speeds and showing an unwillingness to self-centre, but its weighting is good, so town-driving is an unfussy affair. Braking performance, as on the 66 kW model we tested before, is first-rate.

Aside from a new engine, what else do you get for a R342 600 outlay? A surprising amount. The big-ticket item on the spec sheet is a Bose Personal sound system comprising two UltraNearField speakers fitted to the driver’s headrest, as well as an amplifier under their seat, tweeters in the dashboard and wide-range speakers in the front door. Seated in the captain’s pew, there’s certainly more clarity and depth to the sound production but elsewhere in the cabin the system sounds much like those you’d find in any rival. The headrest speakers also creak quite a bit.

Of more importance is the standard fitment of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto controlled via a seven-inch infotainment screen, bright LED headlamps, auto lights and wipers, keyless entry and start, supple leather trim, climate control, around-view cameras to ease parking (it also detects moving objects) and blind-spot warning. It’s curious, then, that the rear windows wind manually and the rear-view mirror’s dim function isn’t automatic.

Full Manufacturer Specifications

Standard - standard Optional - optional
  • Leather upholstery: Standard
  • Seats quantity: 5
  • Split rear seat: Standard
  • Folding rear seat: Standard
  • Air conditioning: Standard
  • Climate control automatic air conditioning: Standard
  • Cup bottle holders: 2 front + 1 rear
  • Antilock braking system (ABS): Standard
  • Electronic brake distribution (EBD): Standard
  • Brake assist (BAS/EBA): Standard
  • Stability control: Standard
  • Driver airbag: Standard
  • Front passenger airbag: Standard
  • Front side airbags: Standard
  • Curtain airbags: Standard
  • Airbag quantity: 6
  • Lane change blindspot warning assist monitor: Standard
  • Automatic drive away locking: Standard
  • ISOFIX child seat mountings: front passenger + outer rear
  • Approach home safe lighting time delay park headlights: Standard
  • Start stop button: Standard
  • Engine auto Stop Start idle stop ecostop: Standard
  • Hillstart assist hillholder: Standard
  • Alloy wheelsrims: Standard
  • Sports suspension: Standard
  • Power steering: Standard
  • Multifunction steering wheel controls: Standard
  • On board computer multi information display: Standard
  • Cruise control: Standard
  • Bluetooth connectivity: Standard
  • Aux in auxiliary input: Standard
  • USB port: Standard
  • Powersocket 12V: front
  • Central locking: keyless
  • Remote central locking: Standard
  • Key less access start hands free key: Standard
  • Electric windows: front
  • Rain sensor auto wipers: Standard
  • Electric adjust mirrors: Standard
  • Heated exterior mirrors: Standard
  • Daytime driving running lights: LED
  • Light sensor auto on off lights: Standard
  • Xenon headlights: LED
  • Frontfog lamps lights: LED
  • Highlevel 3rd brakelight: Standard
  • Rear fog lamps lights: Standard
  • Rear spoiler: Standard
  • Metallic pearl escent paint: Optional
  • Fuel Type: petrol
  • Fuel range average: 820 km
  • Driven wheels: front
  • Driven wheels quantity: 2
  • Gearratios quantity: 6
  • Gearshift: manual
  • Transmission type: manual
  • Front tyres: 205/45 R17
  • Reartyres: 205/45 R17
  • Length: 3999 mm
  • Width excl mirrors incl mirrors: 1743 mm
  • Height: 1465 mm
  • Wheel base: 2525 mm
  • Turning circle wheels body: 10.3 m
  • Load volume / capacity: 300-956 L
  • Load volume / capacity: 956 L
  • Unladen/tare/kerb weight: 1079 kg
  • Gross weight (GVM): 1550 kg
  • Towing capacity - braked: 0
  • Fuel tank capacity (incl reserve): 41l
  • Fuel consumption urban: 6.0 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption extra urban: 4.3 l/100km
  • Fuel consumption average: 5.0 l/100km
  • CO2 emissions average: 115g/km
  • Emission control phase Euro EU level: Euro 5b
  • Power maximum: 84 kW
  • Power maximum total: 84 kW
  • Power peak revs: 5150 r/min
  • Power to weight ratio: 72.6 kW/ton
  • Torque maximum: 180 Nm
  • Torque peak revs: 1750-4000 r/min
  • Torque maximum total: 180 Nm
  • Acceleration 0-100 kmh: 9.9s
  • Maximum top speed: 195 km/h
  • Engine position/ location: front
  • Engine capacity: 999 cc
  • Engine size: 1.0l
  • enginedetailshort: 1.0T
  • Engine + detail: 1.0 turbo
  • Cylinder layout: inline
  • Cylinders: 3
  • Cylinder layout + quantity: i3
  • Valves per cylinder: 4
  • Valves quantity: 12
  • Variable camvalve timing: Standard
  • Turbocharger: Standard
  • Warranty time (years): 6
  • Warranty distance (km): 150000 km
  • Service plan: Standard
  • Service plan time (years): 3
  • Service plan time (distance): 90000 km
  • Service interval (distance): 15000 km
  • Brand: Nissan
  • Status: c
  • Segment: passenger car
  • MMcode: 47010430
  • MMVariant: MICRA 1.0T TEKNA PLUS (84KW)
  • MMintrodat: 2019-10-09
  • Introdate: 2019-11-13
  • DuoportarecordID: NissMicr3h07

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