Upgraded Micra has go, to match its show!

Nissan’s upgraded Micra offers spirited performance and a range of other improvements that give it go to match its show.

Wynter Murdoch

4 Reasons to test drive the New Nissan Micra:

  • Increased power for Nissan’s Micra hatchback adds appeal
  • Model retains high levels of fuel economy and low CO2 emissions
  • Bose Personal audio system offers rich, immersive sound
  • Light and airy cabin has a premium quality feel


With a view to extending the appeal of its compact Micra hatchback range, Nissan recently introduced to the line-up a performance-orientated model powered by a 999cc, three-cylinder, turbocharged engine that produces 84kW.


A product of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance’s strategic co-operation agreement with Daimler AG, the newly developed engine – which features a number of technical innovations, including a special friction-reducing coating on the cylinder bores – delivers almost 20kW more power and 40Nm more torque than the outputs achieved by the 898cc unit which drives the original models in the Micra line-up.


In this respect, Nissan’s aim appears to be to promote spirited performance while at the same time maintaining high levels of fuel economy and low CO2 emissions – and from these perspectives I believe the new Micra meets its objectives.


The car is fun to drive, the powertrain responsive across the rev range and the gruff engine note adding aural appeal. With torque peaking at the 180Nm mark – and an additional 20Nm available as an overboost function – momentum is easy to maintain, the Micra capable of holding steady at 120km/h on the freeway without much effort. Also, acceleration through the gears is pacey, which adds enjoyment to the driving experience.


In line with the engine’s sporty demeanour, ride height of the new model has been lowered by 10mm, while the steering rack is said to be quicker than the original version and the suspension firmer. Transmission is through a six-speed, manual gearbox which replaces the five-speed equivalent with which other Micra models are equipped. Gearshift action is slick and satisfying.


On this point, a Nissan SA spokesman says demand for automatic transmission in the compact hatchback segment is increasing, and it is likely that a CVT system will be introduced to the Micra range later this year.


While the car’s suspension changes have helped to promote sensations of liveliness fostered by the engine’s increased power and torque, the ride remains compliant, the overall impression being one of striking a well-crafted balance between sportiness and comfort. Also notable is the fact that, in hard cornering, the Micra’s chassis remains commendably flat, the vehicle’s low centre of gravity helping to curb body roll.


As far as fuel economy is concerned, Nissan’s tests show a combined cycle return of 5,0 litres/100km – an improvement of 0,1 litres/100km on the figure delivered by the original engine. While carbon emissions remain similar to those of the 66kW unit – 115g/km – the car’s zero to 100km/h time has been improved by 2,2 seconds – dropping from 12,1 seconds to 9,9 seconds. Top speed remains 170km/h.


As far as technology goes, the biggest upgrade in the cabin in terms of Tekna and Tekna Plus variants concerns the installation of a Bose Personal audio system as part of the Apple Carplay, Android Auto compatible infotainment unit.


The system incorporates an under-seat mounted amplifier and high-quality speakers in doors, dashboard and driver’s seat headrest, each facet aimed at delivering top class sound reproduction. “This isn’t just your run-of-the-mill sound system – it’s a rich, immersive 360-degree soundstage,” says a statement issued by Nissan SA.


The vehicle’s cabin is light and bright, roomy at the front and well-appointed, with soft touch plastics in high traffic areas and solidly crafted controls adding a premium feel. While the instrument cluster is stacked with old-fashioned – but easy to read – analogue dials, it is complemented by a useful, digital, trip computer and, on the infotainment side, a seven-inch display screen with integrated Bluetooth.


Standard features in in the top-of-the-range Tekna Plus specification include keyless entry; leather upholstery; a 360-degree parking camera; blind-spot monitoring; idle stop/start; central locking; cruise control; and steering wheel switchgear.


Though the rear of the cabin is tighter than the front, the back seat is able to accommodate two adults in comfort, while the load bay holds a claimed 300 litres of luggage – about average for the segment.


Safety and security features include front, side and curtain airbags; vehicle dynamic control; hill start assist; Isofix child seat anchors; auto-on lighting with auto hazards; anti-lock brakes, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.


In terms of rivals, the Micra competes against popular models such as Volkswagen’s Polo, Ford’s Fiesta, Mazda’s 2 and Renault’s Clio, which is built on a similar platform. Now better equipped to take on its competitors in the performance stakes, the upgraded Micra has plenty of street cred to go with its show.



  • 84kW Micra Turbo Acenta Plus: R318 800
  • 84kW Micra Turbo Tekna: R340 100
  • 84kW Micra Turbo Tekna Plus: R351 100