It's been a long and ardous journey for Nissan India. They kicked started in India with the X-Trail and the Teana and then the Japanese company said, "Well, hold on there, we think India is a good market to invest in". And then we saw back to back launches of the hatchback-Micra and the sedan- Sunny. Though we Indians liked the car, we didn't go ballistic about it and attributed most of the 'non-buying-criteria' to the price of the car, when compared to its competitors. But Nissan India has taken this criticism to task and has just showed what it can really do.
To be very frank, one of the other weakest points of the Micra has been the interiors. No one is pointing their fingers at the quality, but you do admit that it was bland and lacked flair. But, that was then and now, Nissan has taken a giant leap and the interiors are more than just warm and welcoming.
With the new piano black gloss trim around the center console, and the fabric on the door pads, the interiors, get a much needed facelift and now get a more premium look. Of course, you get more equipments in the inside like Bluetooth and USB connectivity on all trim levels, and a rear view camera on select models. Putting that much into a car will surely up the ante for Nissan, as the competition is already fierce in this segment.
The revised front-end certainly makes a strong statement for the Micra. The frog-look is done away with and it looks like the Micra just put on a tuxedo and is now ready to party. The stately front-end design transforms the appearance of the whole car.
The Micra is not the shy car anymore, it is confident, attractive and a looker. The minor changes to the rear end do play a role here, but, mostly, the credit goes to the front end with its Samurai helmet inspired upward moustache in the front grille. The new alloy wheels just add to the overall appearance of this rejuvenated hatch.
When I first drove the predecessor, it was one of the most enchanting experiences of my life. The diesel more so was even more pleasurable as I remember chasing down a 3 Series without a hitch on the highway.
Might I say, all those qualities of fun, comfort and stress-free driving have been retained and this face-lift version is a samurai on four wheels - quick and agile. With 64bhp power at your disposal and 160Nm torque at as low as 2000 rpm, the 1.5 litre diesel engine once again proves its versatility as it offers a phenomenal performance in both city and highway conditions, coupled with good fuel efficiency.
This time around though, Nissan focuses more on the CVT transmission offered with the petrol engine. Nissan is touting it as one of the most efficient engine-gearbox combos in its segment. We have seen the same CVT in the Scala and the Sunny, and well, it has its plus and minus points.
While the efficiency is touted to be more than that of the manual transmission, it does have a certain lag when it comes to power delivery. The rubber band effect, which is a signature problem with CVT transmissions, only seems exaggerated in this case because of the low torque output of the 1.2-litre petrol engine.
It is a spritely character - the Micra and considering the road conditions in India, Nissan does a good job in keeping the car stable and up to the mark. It could certainly do with additional damping to attenuate the engine noise, which, at higher rpm's, is more of a yell than a small cry. Other than that, the car is a breeze to drive - the controls are light, it's easy to handle, and the driving experience is pleasing.
Nissan has made a point and this well built, attractive, spacious, and well equipped Micra does justice to all the effort that the Japanese company has taken to up the ante. It has managed to give it qualities that will make it a success here. With prices starting from Rs 4.80 lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi), Nissan has certainly gone out the whole hog and made a proposition, you just cannot refuse.