Test Drive: 2012 Nissan Micra – The future is here image

Inautonews.com has recently taken the new generation of the Nissan Micra out for a spin and we quickly found out that this is an underrated car in the B segment.

Engine and Transmission:

The 2012 Nissan Micra we tested came with the 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine which is developing a total output of 80 horsepower and it has a peak torque of 108 Nm. As you might have expected, just like with every other small engine out there, you have to push the gas pedal hard in order to squeeze the output out of the engine and once you get passed the 3,000 rpm mark, the 5-door hatchback comes to life and if you didn’t forget to take your “brave pill”, than the opportunities are almost endless.

The version we tested came with a five-speed manual transmission which did its part just like it should have and as far as I’m concerned, an automatic version of the car isn’t a “must”, even if the Japanese based automaker is offering it. The transmission works pretty well in a crowded city and once you will leave the urban environment you can simply sit back, shift into fifth gear and enjoy the scenery. But if an automatic transmission isn’t needed, that doesn’t mean that a sixth gear would also be useless and even if the engine only has three cylinders, on medium to long journeys an extra gear will help improve the fuel consumption.

Fuel Consumption

The new Nissan Micra is “eating” as much as you can offer in terms of fuel consumption and if your right foot is heavy, expect the trip computer to show you more than 10L/100km in the city, with the AC on, but if you drive it like it was meant to be driven, like any other B segment hatchback, the Micra will take care of you and the fuel consumption will drop to as low as 7L/100km in the urban environment.

This also goes for short trips outside the city and when we took it to the mountains for a few hours we expected to use mostly second gear when “climbing” on road but unlike other three-cylinder engines we tested, the Micra can also use upper gears but in tight corners you won’t be able to shift into fifth gear. As for the fuel consumption, with the AC on and cruise control set at 120 km/h on the highway (yes, it has cruise control), the trip computer indicated 6.8L/100km average and once the road has turned into a snake which kept going up, in third and fourth gear the fuel consumption went up to 7.1L/100km.

The Nissan Micra has been made mostly for city use but that doesn’t meant that it’s not a fun-to-drive vehicle on mountain roads and if you really want to feel what it can offer you have to keep it over 5,000 rpm and not only it won’t be noisy but it will also thank you, because every part of it will come to life.

The Ride

Just like we said above, the Nissan Micra has been developed for urban use but for a B segment hatchback it’s surprisingly comfortable, its steering is precise but before you will push the gas pedal to the bottom, make sure you have enough room to stop it because the brakes aren’t so brilliant. In fact the brakes have what we might call a brain of their own and you will push the pedal and nothing will happen, except for the taillights, which will flash around telling the guy behind you that you will lower your speed. But nothing will happen and then you will probably get scared and push the brake all the way and then the Micra realizes what that pedal does and decides to stop in a brutal way.

The Nissan Micra is quite stable in tight corners and it will make you feel comfortable in going even faster but then under steer will suddenly appear and kick you over the back of your head, waking you up and telling you that this is a B segment hatch with a three-cylinder engine.

The visibility in the Nissan Micra is good and the only way to improve it would be to replace all the panels with Plexiglas. The windows will allow you to see what you need to see, the side mirrors are large but not too large and when you won’t feel comfortable squeezing it into a tight parking space, the parking sensors will help you regain your confidence and if this doesn’t work either, a system similar to Park Assist will tell you if the car fits in a parking space.

Interior Design

The Nissan Micra is a nice place to be in and even if the plastic used for the dashboard, center console, doors and so on is cheap, you won’t feel it because the over-all design will trick you and you will end up thinking how did the designers came up with that shape. Just as you might have expected, all the buttons in the Nissan Micra are where they are supposed to be and the multi-function steering wheel will make your life easier by offering controls to the radio, CD player, USB or AUX and it will also let you program the cruise control.

The rear seat occupants won’t sit around comfortably with the front seats pushed all the way back and even if the Micra has been developed as a five-seat vehicle, I think that four seats would have been enough. The automatic climate control did its part very well and despite an outside temperature over 35 degrees Celsius the 21 degrees inside were enough even for the rear-seat occupants. The navigation system was useful but we didn’t like that even we drove it in Romania and it had all the roads on the map, we couldn’t find the Romanian language in the menu so you will have to settle with English, Russian, Italian and so on.

Equipment Level

The version we tested was the top of the line (except for the automatic transmission) and it came with a lot of gadgets like the center touch screen with integrated navigation / radio / CD / AUX and USB, automatic climate control, electric folding heated side mirrors, keyless go, front automatic windows, moonroof, cruise control, speed limiter, a system similar to Park Assist especially developed for this car which will tell you if the Micra fits into a parking space depending on how experienced you are as a driver, fog lamps and more.

Likes / Dislikes

The Nissan Micra isn’t a beautiful car to look at even if this new generation has been made for both sexes but once you will find yourself behind the wheel, you will quickly forget everything about its exterior design, until you will see your reflection in some large windows. We pretty much liked the engine and how it’s performing at high revs, we also liked the climate control, we liked the moonroof, the parking assistance, the storage spaces, the cruise control and even the lights. We also liked the fact that the noise at high speeds is quite acceptable for a B segment car and if you know what you’re doing the Micra will provide you will your daily dose of adrenaline.

Just like every other vehicle out there, the Nissan Micra has its downs too, and I would start with the armrest fitted into the driver’s seat which made me feel like I was travelling by bus or train. The sound system should have been upgraded, the brakes will quickly make you regret that you’ve pushed the gas pedal too hard and the transmission sometimes forgets what it should do and won’t let you put it in reverse.

As a conclusion, if Nissan’s marketing division will promote the new Micra more I think that it can became one of the leaders of the B segment and its price isn’t exaggerated either, because the model we tested was close to 15,000 euros and it had plenty of gear for the money. So there you have it, if you’re looking for a B segment car, go to your local Nissan dealership and drive the new Micra for 30 minutes, you will be surprised of the result.