The Micra Saga…a test drive experience…

Posted: October 16, 2010 in Car reviews
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It has been quite some time since the launch of the new Micra and the hype surrounding it is slowly beginning to subside. Now it is time for the actual question. Was the car really worth the hype and is it truly a game changer for Nissan in India. Let’s find out.

First, lets get into some statistics. Since the launch of Nissan Micra, Nissan India sales have grown by around 20 times over the same period last year. Full credit to the Micra for the outstanding feat. Nissan, with its small network of 19 dealers, managed to sell around 1200 Micras in September. A ratio of around 60 cars sold per dealer. Well done Nissan. But in a market dominated by Swifts and i20s, is the Micra good enough to carry Nisan on its shoulders? Read on.

A look around the car and you will be mesmerized by the cute round looks and its ‘play with me’ attitude.The smiling face with a not so familiar smaller top grille add to the uniqueness and appeal of the car. The chrome on the grille and eye brow like front bumper inserts further complement its beauty. The side view with a high sloping rear roofline gives an impression of the VW Beetle. The rear with its flat looks, does not seem to go well with the roundness feel felt everywhere else in the car. Overall, the car has brought with it a unique identity unlike the other premium hatches around and is sure to impress you with its looks.

Getting in the car is a total keyless affair, with the car requiring just a gentle press on the request switch on the door. Once inside, my hands automatically went to ignition switch area to put in the key and start the car. But it was then I was reminded again of the fact that I was inside a Micra XV, where you just need to push a button to start the car. One look around, and I was quite impressed by the look and layout of the instrument panel. The round theme followed all around, starting from the audio, AC controls and vents, dashboard, and not to forget, the steering wheel. The metallic finish, orange back lights and the greige color scheme gave a lively and cheerful atmosphere inside. The only things that failed to cheer me up were the bland steering and the build quality of the dashboard, which lacked a built to last feel. The car is quite roomy and you will never complain for lack of space. The front seats are good for average built adults, but are a bit low on holding feel and the rear seat thigh support is not all that great, especially in the lower variants. Also the operation of the seat slider was not encouraging and had a ‘don’t fiddle with me’ feel. There was a slight feel of less rear headroom, owing to the sloping roofline.

Coming to the features, the car is heavily loaded and you can get almost all the features in the segment and much more in the top variant. But lower down, especially in XE variant, save the airbag, it feels like Nissan has made a car having just the body shell of the Micra, to place it under 4 lakhs. The XL option seems good value for money with a good performance audio system, keyless entry, and front and rear power windows with pinch guard. The top end XV gets electric folding mirrors, automatic AC and intelligent key feature, a first in its class, but sadly at the expense of alloy wheels.

Start the car, and there is a bit of vibration owing to the 3 cylinder motor, but not to an extent causing discomfort. Looking at cars like the Polo which makes lots of fuss while starting, Micra feels calm and unperturbed. Depress the throttle and car responds instantly with almost no trace of any lag. But press it harder and you feel the engine is not as capable as the K series or the Kappa or like the 3 pot in Polo. The engine takes time to accelerate but it never ever seems like running out of breath. Very much acceptable.

Quite tempted to play around with the car, I started giving brisk steering inputs and doing lane changes, but the feedback I got from the car was truly disappointing. The steering lacks the precise feel of the Swift and is not communicative as well. The only solace was that the car was responding linearly to my steering inputs.  Put it into a corner and it feels that the car terribly wants to go out of control and have a spin around. The suspension feels extremely soft and the car does lane changes like an elephant shaking its head in disagreement. The feel is no better in ride as well. Over broken patches, the car transfers all impacts to the passenger with a strong determination not to miss out and hump. The thud feel when the car goes over plastic speed breakers (small and sharp ones) is the most irritating part. Even on smooth roads the car gives a feel of floating around, owing to its light weight, with the remotest connection with the road. The only good performer was the brakes, with a linear feel and showing a sense of purpose. Clearly feels Nissan has compensated with equipment and features to cover up what it could not achieve in performance.

I feel Nissan should do some serious rethinking in terms of enhancing the cars performance, at least in ride and handling, if not engine, to sustain the good show in the future as well, when the hype dies down and customers start looking for real value in the product. At least till then, the car doesn’t seem to be like a game changer.

Pros:

Cute round looks, airbags in base variant, intelligent key, good audio performance

Cons:

Ride and handling, pickup, alloy wheels in XV

Comments
  1. shyam says:

    I am leaving in Chennai
    The ride quality of the car is really excellent and I strongly recommend for city drivers,
    whats ur comment on this.

    • automate4u says:

      @ Shyam
      I wouldn’t rate the ride quality as excellent, but the car is very good for city driving in terms of driving ease…
      Once you go over sharp bumps, you will definitely feel the difference

  2. namrit says:

    Isn’t push ignition button and finger door entry avaliable in other variants of nissan micra ?

  3. Pratyush says:

    Hey!

    Which one would be a better car? i20 or Micra

    In terms of – NVH, Engine power and Value for Money

    • automate4u says:

      Both are similar in terms of engine performance(petrol).
      But i20 is definitely better in NVH
      both are equally good on VFM also, but the less no of dealers in Micra can be a problem

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