Don Booker MBE looks at the dynamic new Micra
Not many will visit one of the world’s biggest car factories and come away with a request to sell the chief executive a car.
That once happened to yours truly on a visit to the Nissan factory at Washington, near Sunderland. When the chief, dressed in a boiler suit and trilby, knew I owned a Morgan, he wanted to take it back to Japan. No deal was done but during the visit I was again greatly impressed with the company and its expertise.
Datsun and then Nissan were the great invaders of the UK car market. When I bought my first Morgan, I also bought a Datsun Cherry for every-day use from the foundation of Datson in the UK, Derek Cook. It was a compact and tinny car with first-class mechanicals; very reliable with bright coloured bodywork.
During my visit to the Far East, I discovered nearly all cars were white and had small interior dimensions. The Japanese had designed them around their personal small frames, making things a bit difficult for buyers in the export market.
Micra measures up
Never know to let grass grow under their feet, Nissan took special care of car dimensions to accommodate the ever-growing Europeans with the average Dutchman now 6ft tall.
For the newest Micra, employee measurements were collected to create a 200-person ‘all shapes and sizes’ testing team. The company took 40 different measurements from each employee, recording height and sitting eye position to arm and leg length. The tallest was 6ft7 and the smallest 4ft11.
It is this technique which has made the new Micra best in class for comfort and will appeal to those down-sizing from bigger models.
A change in style
The Micra, although much-loved, has lacked style throughout its life. But the newcomer is one of the most striking, dynamic and revolutionary cars to come on the market – just a glance is exciting and unrecognisable from previous bubble-shaped versions.
It is the fifth generation of the model and the entry-level Visia costs £11,995. The price rise is due to the car’s larger footprint, upmarket look and feel. It has five trim levels and after the Visia comes the Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna which tops the range at £17,295.
It is the first time and all-new Micra has been launched since 2003 and is opposing the superminis such as Ford’s Fiesta, Volkswagen’s Polo and the Vauxhall Corsa.
Sculpted and sporty, the distinctive body is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor with swept back headlamps set deep into the wings plus a new version of the family trademark grille.
At the rear, it seems to be floating and boomerang-shaped tail lamps complete the ultra-smart and classic design.
I’m old fashioned when it comes to car colours but now every maker seems to be offering these vivid shades with black instead of bright alloys.
The mechanics of the Micra
Ride-wise, there is active trace control technology which uses intelligent braking to keep you on the right track. Also, active rise control uses engine power to smooth the ride.
The one-litre petrol engine develops 73bhp. There is also a 90bhp turbo petrol unit with turbo intercooler and multipoint injection, plus a flagship diesel turbo also producing 90bhp.
With time spent in both the spotlight and shadows since its 1980s birth, the newest Micra model has shed its dated image for a modern stylish finish that is brimming with mojo.