Nissan Micra – First Drive (road test follows soon!)

We drove the Nissan Micra on some of the scenic roads in Chennai and also in congested roads. We were there on an invite from Nissan – and here is the result: the first-drive report of the Nissan Micra small car. Updated: Nissan Micra launched, prices announced!

nissan micra mini road test photo
Photo: Nissan Micra first drive

The Nissan Micra (or March as it is known in a few countries) goes on sale in India on the 14th of July, according to Nissan officials. The Micra has been selling in Thailand as the March for a while, but what we get here in India is the India-specific Micra. With this cute little car, Nissan directly enters the numbers game here in India.

We think the company has not left any stone unturned with the Micra – and that’s our online answer to those who do not want to do this semi road test all the way. As usual, you can expect a full road test of the Nissan Micra from DWS AutoIndia after the launch of the car. Bookings for the Nissan Micra have already crossed 1000 units, as we reported a few days earlier. Ranbir Kapoor is the brand ambassador for the company, and the TVCs featuring him are already airing on TV.

As usual, we have a photo gallery / slideshow of the Nissan Micra first drive all the way down at the bottom of this page. Once we have the road test ready, you will have a photo gallery of that too. And now, on to the first drive report.

nissan micra features composite photo

Nissan Micra’s design: Cute and retro

nissan micra front photo
Photo: Nissan Micra looks retro-ish

The Micra from the outside is rather cute and looks very refreshing and has an sorta-retro look to it. The headlamps and the front remind you of the Porsche Panamera (pardon our sins here, Porsche gods!), pushed back rounded lights go with the overall rounded look. The large bumper up front looks sporty along with the air dams that go way down.

The grille is a two-part affair with a chrome strip running across on the top-end Micra XV variant. The side profile is very retro. A round, sloping roof and the rear end with its perfectly curved window and the slightly bulging tail lamps give it a Volkswagen Beetle kind of look. We would discuss this in greater detail when we get an extensive / full road test of the Nissan Micra soon.

The car has been displayed at Nissan showrooms across India for a while now, and pre launch bookings recently crossed 1000 by many perspective buyers without any test drives. Also read: Indian cars’ road tests.

nissan micra rear photo
Photo: Nissan Micra cars at the first drive

Nissan Micra: Engine and performance

Let us find out how well the Micra really drives. Nissan is a very big name world-wide, and their cars are refined, very smartly engineered, fun to drive and are designed very innovatively.

The India spec Nissan Micra is powered by a 1198 cc, three-cylinder motor that makes 76 PS @ 6000 rpm and belts out 104 Nm of torque @ 4000 rpm. The first impressions of this 3-pot engine is that it is a smooth unit that is highly refined, and can easily pass off as a 4-cylinder engine. You may also want to read about the Volkswagen Polo road test: Another 3-cylinder engined car.

Refinement level of the engine is high, while it is very responsive in the power band. Mid-range power is better than some of the 4 cylinder engines from the segment. The car pulls rather strongly from around 3000 rpm and up, and from here on, the car lunges in a very refined fashion right until the redline on the RPM dial. On the highway, the Micra we drove kept up with the Nissan X-Trail that was the pilot vehicle during the entire drive, which should give you an hint of how much this 3-pot unit is capable of.

During city drives and heavy traffic conditions, we had to use the gearbox often – but once we got the hang of it, driving on busy Chennai roads was no fuss.

Suspension, handling

The Nissan Micra for India runs with an India-spec suspension setup that impressed us to a great extent. The ride quality is highly impressive with the suspension and the tyres soaking up the bad roads and pot holes that we drove on. We also drove the Micra on some sandy beach routes and were all smiles at the way the little car handled the terrain. Stability is yet another hallmark of the Nissan Micra. Even at speeds of 130 kmph where other cars this size would start getting the jitters, the Micra drove as if on rails. Due to the soft suspension, there is some amount of body roll, but the Micra is a confident handler that likes to be thrown around. In fact my foot was firmly planted on the accelerator pedal while taking turns instead of slowing down – that’s how confident this car is around corners. The feedback from the steering is precise, and the steering itself feels well-weighted. The Micra benefits from this virtue while maneuvering through busy streets and traffic.  Overall, the car handles very nicely and the driver involvement / feedback is high.

Micra’s Interiors: Hit or miss?

The interiors of the Micra are all smooth curves, just like the exteriors. The speedo cluster with clear speed calibration is easy to view. The top variant Micra VX that we drove had the multi information display (MID) tucked in the dash which read out the actual mileage that the car was doing, kilometers the car would run with the amount of fuel in the tank, trip meter reading etc. The unique-looking climate control sits just below the music player. Everything here: the AC vents, stereo buttons, climate control layout etc looks nice. Headroom and legroom are generous and loads of space all around. Twin opening glove box is a nice touch but it is available only on the top-end version of the Micra.

nissan micra switchgear photo

In the back seat of the Nissan Micra, the story continues with impressive headroom and legroom which we guess is the best in its class. The front seats are adequately shaped and sized though we would have liked a height adjust for the driver’s seat to aid the not-so-very-tall drivers. Rear seats are nice and firm and the back rest tilt is also angled comfortably. If only Nissan could extend the rear seat and make it slightly broad to enhance the thigh support it would work wonders for the back benchers. The rounded boot opens up to a very generous boot. Split rear seats are missing but still, the bench type rear seat folds down flat when needed to extend the boot for storage.

The top end Nissan Micra XV that we drove comes some rather unique features seen on high-end cars. Keyless entry, keyless ignition via the push button are missing even in some expensive D Segment cars! This makes the Nissan Micra the first for car to have it in the B-segment. Nissan has also added automatic climate control and automatic folding mirrors which again are unheard of in this segment. The top- end Micra gets a two-tone dash finish which is made of decent quality plastic.

We also had some interaction with key Nissan officials who had come in from Japan and they were more than happy to have our inputs and keen to know as to how we felt about their baby.

The Micra no doubt is and very good small car from Nissan and an ideal model to start off in India where till now it just sells cars via the CBU imports.

Pricing holds the key to the success of any small car here in India, and that stands true with the Micra too and Nissan must, by now, have studied every competing car and their pricing.

Nissan Micra prices: Our guesstimate

Nissan Micra XE (base) model Rs 4.00 lakhs

Nissan Micra XL(mid range)model Rs 4.50 lakhs

Nissan XV (top of the line) model Rs 5 lakhs

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