Current small cars in India compared to the Nissan Micra
The new Nissan Micra that would be launched on the 14th of this month (Updated: Nissan Micra launched, prices announced!) would have to face some formidable competition in an already overcrowded segment. Last week, we published a mini road test of the Nissan Micra – and now we have some idea of how it will fare against the competition.
- Hyundai i20
- Fiat Punto
- Volkswagen Polo
- Ford Figo
- Chevrolet Beat
- Maruti Suzuki Swift
Hyundai i20 vs Nissan Micra
We start with one of the bigger cars in the segment, the Hyundai i20.
Hyundai hit the right chords with the i20 which is selling in large numbers since its launch. The pricing of the Hyundai i20 is much more than what Nissan would price the Micra at. But still, we feel the Micra could offer stiff competition to the i20 though the Korean is larger in all proportions.
The USP for the Hyundai i20 which made it an instant hit among Indians is primarily its top-notch European levels of fit and finish, its rather curvy and in-your-face trendy looks and loads of features. Hyundai offers three engine options on the i20: two petrol engines and one CRDI unit. The 1.2 petrol comes with a five-speed manual transmission while the 1.4 petrol comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. The 1.4 CRDI now has recently been upgraded with a six-speed manual gearbox that’s a first for this segment. The Hyundai i20 is an fantastic car to drive in and around city roads. The only thing that works against it its light steering – the steering feels too lightly weighted, and there isn’t enough feedback as one would expect. The Hyundai i20’s ride quality is top notch. As far as interiors go, it has a large cabin which is well spaced out. Designed and engineered for the European markets, the Hyundai i20 also offers high levels of safety. Time will tell if the Nissan Micra manages to eat into the Hyundai i20 market.
How they compare: Both look exclusive, but the Micra is cheaper.
Fiat Punto vs Nissan Micra
The Punto is the flagship hatchback car from the Italian car maker, one of the best lookers in its category. This car is available in three engine options: two petrols and one Multijet diesel. The Fiat Punto 1.2 petrol was recently introduced, while the 1.4 petrol and the 1.3 MJI are on duty since its launch. Read Fiat Punto road test
A 90 bhp CRDI version of the Punto running on the Fiat Linea’s 90 bhp engine would be launched later this month. The 90 bhp best suits those who felt that the Punto was underpowered. Once the 90 bhp Punto is launched, there would be more engine options to choose from. Ride quality is good, and the fit and finish are also nice. The cabin and seats are roomy and comfortable on the Punto. The USP of the Punto is its Italian looks and very good ride quality. The Punto handles quite well and is a fun car to drive with ample feedback and an good powerplant. You have the efficient 1.2 Petrol and 1.3 CRDI and the powerful 1.4 Petrol and the soon coming 90 bhp CRDI for power and performance. The Nissan Micra would have to flex its muscles to out run this Italian cutie.
How they compare: Punto has classic style against the retro chic of the Nissan Micra. Micra is more powerful – till the 90 bhp Punto hits the streets, that is.
Volkswagen Polo vs Micra
Tho Polo is the first small car that is produced in India by Volkswagen, this is another good looker. Some like its looks, some don’t at first glance – but the ones who don’t like it begin to fall for it slowly. This car’s design slowly grows on you. Read Volkswagen Polo road test
The Polo has 3-cylinder petrol and diesel engines (both 1.2 liters) and mirrors the Micra’s specifications closely. Fun to drive, the Polo has a powerful engine that is more comfortable once rpms go up. The VW three-pot motor may be a bit noisy and vibrates at idle, but once on the move, feels spirited and smooth. Quality is the best in class, often comparable to the big brother Volkswagen Jetta in many ways. Everything is built to last and lots of space.
The Volkswagen Polo has one of the largest boots in its class. The Indian Polo has the so called India-spec suspension which handles bad roads, rough terrain and highways with ease. The Polo is a smart handler as well which has its bigger brother the 1.6 Polo Sports coming soon. If you compare the Micra to the Polo the specifications go neck and neck. The Micra still has to get a diesel option – till then its just the Petrol Polo Vs the Micra.
How they compare: Classic style vs retro-chic. Take your pick. Micra comes close to the Polo in build quality, but Polo is tough to beat there. Wait for our road test of the Micra to be sure!
Ford Figo vs Micra
The Figo is the car Ford was counting on to make it big in India – and its success story speaks for itself. It is based on the last-generation Fiesta platform, but that has not stopped it from capturing Indian hearts. With Figo sales figures reaching 7000 units a month already, this car has a lot of potential. Read Ford Figo road test
Though the exteriors don’t inspire a lot, but nevertheless are very practical looking and have the to the point design. Ford has a 1.2 petrol and the Fiesta’s very trusted 1.4 CRDI unit on the Figos. Refinement is good on the petrol and efficiency is also its plus point, what helps Figo score is the drive quality and the driver feedback. The Figo has a superb suspension setup that chews up Indian terrain for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The steering is nice and ideally weighted with just the right amount of feedback.
And well you have the diesel Figo, which is super fun to drive as its engine is from a much larger car, the Ford Fiesta. The power-to-weight ratio gives the Figo all the advantage. The gearbox is also a well-balanced unit with good ratios and slick shifts. The Figo’s cabin is spacious and it has a few unique gadgets like the Bluetooth stereo but the rear power windows are missing even on the top end variant. The Figo has a boot that can fit in your weekend bags. Ford has also ramped up its after-sales service and cost of spares and appointed a lot of dealers across India. We feel the Figo would be one of the biggest threats to the Nissan Micra.
How they compare: The Figo would be tough to beat in sales. The Micra is a more modern car, though.
Chevrolet Beat vs Nissan Micra
The Beat did the same for General Motors what Figo did for Ford. GM India’s make-or-break model was an instant success and bookings for the Beat were quiet a surprise even for GM who had to increase their production capacity and shifts to meet the demand. Chevrolet Beat road test
Space-age looks and very trendy interiors are the USP for the Chevrolet Beat which still very much looks like concept cars that never make it to production. Driven by a D-Tec 1.2 petrol engine that is refined and efficient, the Beat has a rather interesting cabin and dash. Unique speedo dash and the blue lit chunky center console all look futuristic. Drive quality and suspension on the Beat are good. Expect diesel and LPG variants of the Beat very soon. The Micra has to beat the Beat in its own game if it has to shine in this segment.
How they compare: If you want to impress your son, go for the Beat. If you want to impress your colleagues, the Nissan Micra it is!
Maruti Suzuki Swift vs Micra
Regarded as the Emperor in this segment, the Swift has always enjoyed this status and is the highest seller in this segment since its launch. The Swift was the first proper big hatch that India had seen. Pricing is in its favor, and so is the large after-sales network of Maruti in India that’s hard to beat.
The petrol Swift recently had an engine change and now runs on the the 1.2 K-Series unit that is fun to drive in city as well on the highways. There is also the now famous 1.3 Multijet engine diesel option available. The Swift is a very able handler and has a well weighted chassis that’s its USP. The interiors on the Swift are not class-leading but nevertheless, its seats and cabin area are more than adequate. The Swift is one car that none of the competition has been able to beat till date in numbers, and it would be a big task for the Micra.
How they compare: Micra easily beats the Swift in coolness stakes. Exclusivity is another plus for the Micra – for now. But for dependability and after-sales support, no one can touch any Maruti Suzuki car.
What Micra needs to do
Nissan is one of the last entrants into the Indian small car market, and this can both work and not work in its favor. We drove the Micra and from our first drive experience, we are sure that the Micra has loads of potential and can be the ideal launch pad for Nissan to establish its self as a big brand and a volume player in India.
The Micra has very retro looks, great quality and fit-finish, interiors are very well-appointed with a few unique features added in there like the self folding mirrors, key-less entry, start button on the top-end version etc. Space at the front and rear is more than enough.
What Nissan Micra lacks
Nissan has to quickly get the basics right and appoint dealers and service stations across India. Small car success stories are built on dealership numbers and after-sales-service and that’s the secret behind Marutis success.
Pricing for the Micra has to be spot on, there is no tomorrow here in this highly competitive small car market. Figo’s pricing should prove this point.
Nissan has to get a diesel option for the Micra real soon. Almost all its competition have a diesel option, and we are sure Nissan is already working on it.
We at DWS wish Nissan all the very best for its Micra.