It's cute, it's spacious and now it's a diesel as well. Just six months into the Indian market, Nissan has gone ahead and plonked an oil burner into the Micra, but how much does it really add to the appeal of the car? We find out
It’s about 5 pm and I’m driving around in the new Nissan Micra diesel humming away to my favorite tunes. All was well till I hit Fergusson college road where the real commotion began. The area being primarily infested with the young college crowd immediately took to the cheeky red car’s looks. There was a bevy of heads turning while others decided to discuss the car in highly animated fashion. Now I wasn’t in any sort of a convertible sportscar or anything even remotely close to it, then why all the commotion you ask. Well that’s how different Nissan’s approach has been towards the most buzzing car segment in India.
While we had already tested the Micra in its petrol avatar, Nissan has just gone ahead and plonked an oil burner under the little car’s hood. And Nissan didn’t even have to try too hard to look for one. The Renault-Nissan alliance came to the fore and choosing the tried and tested diesel mill from the Logan was an absolute no brainer.
Design and style
Spotted next to the numerous Swifts the little Micra comes across as quote a revelation. The dinky proportions make it even more adorable. While it may not be in the same league of the legendary Beetle or the more recent Fiat 500, it pretty much makes its mark in the cute car club. There is not much to differentiate between its petrol sibling apart from the 15 inch alloy wheels which is shockingly not available in the petrol version.
The bulbous theme follow suite on the inside as well. Nissan’s 'twin bubble theme' dashboard in multi-grain plastic looks very modern and breaks away from the conventional dashboard layouts. The nice roomy interiors remain and the Micra is definitely one of the most cozy cars to be in. While we already mentioned about the lack of storage places in our earlier review Nissan probably read wrong and as a result the second glovebox has now been omitted. Other than skimping on storage places, there is not much to fault with and everything feels pretty well put together.
Diesels rule the roost here in India and Nissan read those signs pretty early. As a result we have the diesel Micra launched within six months of the petrol’s arrival. And what you see here under the hood is exactly the same unit that has been powering the diesel Mahindra-Renault Logan albeit carrying a lot less weight, 130 plus kg to be precise. The 1.5 dCi unit pushes out a Logan identical 65 PS @ 4000 rpm and maximum torque of 160 Nm @ 2000 rpm. The only difference here is that the Micra looses the intercooler and a result some weight as well. Start the motor up and it fires to life with the usual diesel clatter but once warmed up it settles down to a nice quite idle.
Drive and handling
One of the best power to weight ratios in its class means, the Micra dCi feels pretty sprightly off the mark. Keep shifting in the power band and the Micra hits the ton in 16.2 seconds which is pretty much in the same vein as the Swift diesel. Drivability is also pretty good and there is no turbo lag whatsoever. Push it harder though and the Micra takes on a gruff note. The sweet spot lies in the 1500 – 3500 rpm range where this baby is the happiest. The gear shift has a nice positive throw as well and going up and down the box is hardly a chore. But thanks to the amazing drivability even that is barely needed.
Shooting through traffic is an absolute joy thanks to all that power at hand and coupled with an extremely plush suspension setup the Micra simply gobbles up the roads no matter what the condition. On the highways though things change quite a bit. While the car can cruise pretty effortlessly at ton up speeds, it’s not really in its element when fast corners are brought into the picture. And then we come to the braking. Though adequate around town, braking hard results in immediate locking of the wheels. The culprit here are the non-ABS brakes. Why Nissan decided to omit a necessary safety feature like ABS is simply beyond us.
Diet bodywork, zilch turbo lag and well matched gearing means the Micra performed extremely well on the fuel efficiency front. Driven around town, the Micra returned a very economical 13.6 kmpl. Veering onto the open highways the little car churned out an even better 17.4 kmpl which give the Micra dCi an overall figure of 14.55 kmpl. A 41 litre tank then gives it a maximum range of 596.5 km which is simply outstanding.
Priced at Rs. 5.63 lakh for the XV variant and Rs. 6.10 lakh (ex-showroom Delhi) for the XV Premium variant the Micra dCi is slightly more expensive than the Figo but pretty much in the same range as the VW Polo and Fiat Punto. With more pros than cons, the Micra dCi is definitely a very good buy if you are in the market for a cute, comfortable and efficient diesel hatch. That said, I’m off for a drive around Fergusson college road again!