Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test

The Nissan micra diesel variant is here; we road test the Nissan Micra 1.5 dCI diesel XV Premium

Ranbir Kapoor’s cutesy charm seems to have done the trick for Nissan, at least, as far as the Micra’s brand recall is concerned. Almost everyone who stopped by to look at the Micra during our road test asked: “Hey, isn’t this the car Ranbir drives in that ad?”

But the Ranbir factor aside, the Micra is also getting noticed for its fresh, youthful and attractive styling. Everyone, from elderly men waiting at bus stops, middle-aged execs waiting next to us in traffic, to shopping housewives, kids on cycles, girls on rickshaws (and the rickshaw-pullers themselves!) turned around to see the car as we zipped past them. It was fun watching those necks swivel in the rearview mirror! Read our Nissan Micra petrol road test

Quite frankly, barring the Volkswagen Polo and now the Micra, no other car in the segment—Ford Figo, Skoda Fabia, Hyundai i20 or the now ageing Maruti Swift—are seen as much of a crowd-puller. With the Nissan Micra launched in a diesel avatar, the diesel hatchback segment is brimming with options.

Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test
Photo: The Nissan Micra 1.5 dCI is a great city car

The looks: inside and outside

From outside, the diesel Micra looks identical to the petrol model with the split grille and bug-eyed headlamps giving it a Porsche 911 Carrera-like appearance. The noticeable differences include a rear spoiler with an integrated stop lamp (only in the top-end XV Premium model) and the dCI badging on the boot.

The Nissan Micra could very well have been named Micro owing to its size. At 3,780 mm, it’s smaller than most other cars in its segment, including the Volkswagen Polo (read the Volkswagen Polo diesel road test) and Ford Figo (read our Ford Figo petrol and diesel road tests), but bigger than the Swift in all departments. But the shorter length is compensated for with a taller height (1,525 mm), which translates to better headroom, and also the width to some extent (1,665 mm).

Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test
Micra Diesel XV Premium gets climate control. Integrated stereo is common to XV and XV Premium.

The seats, both front and back, are comfortable and the seat fabric in greige (grey + beige) is pleasing to the eye. The driver’s seat is not height-adjustable, which may be a problem for shorter drivers. The aircon and music system is laid out in a unique, circular pattern to match the Micra’s overall round interior styling, which Nissan calls the Twin Bubble design, giving passengers a “protected feeling.” The music system plays MP3 and has an aux-in port, and audio quality is pretty average. Along with the instrumentation, it gets bright orange backlighting, which looks funky, especially in the dark. The drive computer displays useful data such as instant fuel consumption, average fuel consumption and cruising range.

Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test
Clockwise from top left: Micra as 251 litres boot space; rear seat legroom and elbowroom is adequate for 3 adults; Micra has 2 cupholders and a 12V socket in front floor console; pedals are set close together.

The circular door handles come with chrome plating while the steering gets a chrome logo (absent in petrol models). The steering is light and feels nice to hold but gets progressively heavier as the speed increases, making it great for both city and highway driving. The Nissan Micra has power windows on all four doors, with one-touch-down function on the driver’s side. Storage spaces are aplenty but they are too small. The diesel Micra has some wasted space where the passenger airbag should have been. At 251 litres, boot capacity is not the largest compared to the competition (Volkswagen Polo: 294 litres, Ford Figo: 284 litres) but is adequate enough for carrying light bags and briefcases.

Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test
Nissan Micra's 1.5 litre diesel engine puts out 63 bhp of power.
Nissan Micra diesel 1.5 dCI road test
Photo: The Nissan Micra diesel feels stable even at high speeds

The engine…

Under the hood is the same 1.5-litre, CRDi engine that’s there in the Mahindra Logan (thanks to the Renault partnership). Step on the clutch pedal, press the start-stop button (available only in XV Premium) and the engine comes to life, but it’s a lot less noisy than the Logan thanks to some top-class cabin damping by Nissan. The keyless system demands that you carry the car’s key in a pocket. However, we noticed that once started, even if the key was not in the car, the engine remained on. The electric-folding mirrors open and close automatically with the ignition, that makes the Micra look like a jet ready for takeoff.

And takeoff it does, though, at a steady, brisk pace and not quite the frenzy of a hot hatch. Power delivery is linear and turbo lag, common in most diesel cars, was barely noticeable during our road test of the Nissan Micra diesel. While the Micra puts out the same amount of power as the Logan (63 bhp), the hatchback’s lower kerb weight (1,008 kg compared to Logan’s 1,140 kg) helps add some zing to the driving. During the road test, we found that acceleration was effortless regardless of speed and even at 145 kmph, the Micra did not run out of breath.

The ride…

The Nissan Micra diesel never felt  unstable at high speeds during the road test. The 175/60 R15 tyres hold the road very well, though there is a fair bit of body roll in the corners. The suspension absorbs most of the shocks but ride quality for rear seat passengers is slightly rough over bumps and potholes. City driving is a breeze and the Micra weaves and bobs through traffic with confidence. The short turning radius (4.65 m) allows for effortless parking. (Turning radius of Volkswagen Polo: 4.97 m, Ford Figo: 4.9 m)

The mileage?

At an overall 20 kmpl during the course of our road test, the Micra dCI’s mileage / fuel consumption was not too far off the official claim of 23.06 kmpl (figures approved by ARAI).

The verdict…

The Nissan Micra dCI is offered in two trims: the XV and XV Premium. The top-end model gets a start-stop button, automatic climate control, rear wiper, and 15-inch alloy wheels. However, ABS or passenger airbag is not offered even as an option. At Rs 5.58 lakhs for the XV version and Rs 6.04 lakhs for the XV Premium (prices ex-showroom, Delhi), the Micra may appear to be on the pricier side but that’s a small premium you’d pay for a car that stands out in the crowd, is fun and frugal to drive, and sports a modest but smart feature list.

Read more: Road tests and reviews of Indian cars and SUVs – the full list

Nissan Micra diesel road test video

Technical Specifications

Model  Nissan Micra dCI (Diesel)
Maximum power 63 bhp at 4,000 rpm
Maximum torque 16.3 kgm at 2,000 rpm
Gearbox 5-speed manual
Steering Electric power-assisted rack& pinion
Wheelbase 2,450 mm
Minimum turning radius 4.65 m
Suspension McPherson strut (front), Torsion Beam (rear)
Tyres 165/70 R14 (XV), 175/60 (XV Premium)
Brakes Ventilated disc (front), drum (rear)
Fuel tank capacity 41 litres
Boot space 251 litres
Top speed 158 km/hr (claimed)
Fuel economy 23.08 km/litre (claimed); 20 km/litre (tested)
Prices (Ex-showroom, Delhi) Rs.5.58 lakh (XV) & Rs. 6.04 lakh (XV Premium)