Nissan re-invents the Micra for Paris, adding smart tech and efficiency
Nissan unveiled the fifth generation of the Micra subcompact, which is aimed directly at the European market. The Micra Gen5 is lower, wider, and longer to give more interior space and sees a host of upmarket driver-assist technologies as well.
The first Micra subcompact appeared in showrooms over thirty years ago as an entry into the newly-emerging urban buyer's market. Named for its size, the Micra has evolved through five generations of design. The new hatchback, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in September 2016, is "... following on the wheel tracks of distinctive cars like Qashqai and Juke," says Nissan's CEO Carlos Ghosn. "[The new Micra] shows our intent to compete right at the top of Europe's B-segment market."
Styling points are straight out of Nissan's premium-market cars like the Maxima and Murano. The V-motion grille enters a low-slung hoodline that quickly curves into the windscreen. A distinct V is also seen at the window split, creating the beltline and roofline at the A-pillar. Body lines are full of motion moving back towards the rear fenders, where they straighten to give a visual cue for speed. The floating roofline at the rear pillar and de-accented wheel wells finish the look.
There are ten color options for the Micra Gen5 with several personalization options available for the interior and exterior. This approach is similar to the program for the Juke, which allows dozens of dealer options to be changed and added at the time of order. This new-generation Micra is far more dynamic than its predecessors, showing that Nissan is serious about gaining market share in one of Europe's most popular vehicle segments. In addition to the improved looks, the Micra now has a drag coefficient of 0.29, one of the best in the segment.
Nissan has said that the new Micra is longer, wider, and taller than the previous generation, but did not release specifications on what those new dimensions are. Underneath the bodywork is an improved chassis and drivetrain.
The Micra Gen5 has chassis technologies aimed towards improving ride quality and driver control. Added weld points and improved body stiffening are main areas of change for the chassis, as is the addition of Active Trace Control to reduce understeer for better handling. ATC uses a new brushless electric power-steering system to dynamically control turns. This allows for varying assist amounts and more precise movement. It's hitherto only been seen in the X-Trail and Qashqai in the European markets.
Driving all of this is a new 0.9-liter turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine or a 1.5-liter diesel option. Both output 90 horsepower (67 kW). A 73-horsepower (54.5 kW) 1.0-liter petrol engine will become available later in the year. Nissan says that fuel efficiency numbers for the Micra Gen5 are forthcoming.
What's also new for the Micra will be advanced driver-assist technologies and advanced safety features. Available tech includes lane-departure prevention, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, intelligent around-view monitor (360-degree backup camera), traffic-sign recognition, high-beam assist, and blind-spot warning. Many of these are firsts for the micro-car segment. A new six-speaker Bose sound system is also available for the Micra, which includes two Bose UltraNearfield speakers built into the driver-seat headrest. A 7-inch center screen acts as the hub for infotainment and navigation and includes Apple CarPlay with Siri.
The Micra Gen5 will be built in Fins, France at the Renault plant shared by Nissan. Sales begin in Europe in March 2017. Nissan has promised more details, including regional pricing, before the Micra's launch.
Nissan takes us through the design process for the new Micra in the video below: