Nissan Micra Diesel XV Premium
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Nissan Micra XV PremiumNissan introduced their premium small car The Micra to the Indian market last year. The Micra comes to India with a successful stint in numerous markets all over the world. The car is very popular in the European markets where the company offers even a cabriolet version for enthusiasts! The Micra introduced in India is the fourth generation of the car which went on sale all over the world in 2010. Across all the generations, the Micra has sold over 5,650,000 units! The car has been bagging prestigious awards through the years being adjudged “Car of the Year” on a numerous occasions.

The petrol version was well received in India and has been doing well. The Micra has had an upward sales graph and in January 2011 recorded its highest sale 1784 units. In addition to the domestic market, the company also began exports of the Micra to cater to the demand of the European markets with a steep target of exporting about 1,10,000 units in the 10-11 fiscal year. Amidst all these developments, Nissan launched the Micra with a 1500cc diesel motor which went on sale on December 2010.

Most Indian small cars are powered by Fiat’s award winning 1300 cc diesel engine. Then there is the TDI motor that powers the German siblings, VW Polo and the Skoda Fabia. Then we have the Ingeniously developed TDI motor by Tata Motors and of course the Hyundai CRDI engine that powers the i20 which sadly has not caused as much stir as the 1200 cc petrol engine continues to dominate the i20 sales. The Ford CRDI motor which powers the Fiesta and the successful Figo is also a fairly refined motor.
We were extremely keen to drive this one as we were curious to see how this engine and this car as a whole stacks up against the very able competition! This premium diesel hatch segment is surely heating up!

Exterior:
Nissan Micra XV PremiumThis Nissan Micra is the fourth generation Micra which was launched in 2010 world-wide. This latest Micra appears more grown up and more stylish.
First impression of the car is that its small. Let me tell how that its looks and first impressions are fairly deceptive and that is the first thing that you notice when you give it a closer look.
The rear of the car has a slight retro look about itself with the tail lamp console and boot while the front is more universally appealing and contemporary. The top end variants are equipped with 15” alloy wheels which look very stylish indeed. The good build quality of the car is imminent. With absolutely uniform panel gaps and excellent fit and finish. You can not help but notice the large windows, even the rear one which is so peculiar to this car and in a good way!

Interiors:
Nissan Micra XV PremiumEnter the cabin of the Micra and the distinct theme continues. Almost immediately, your attention is drawn to the the peculiar and curvy lines across the front dash which result in chubby panels. This is a fresh change from the usual rectangular cues in contemporary cars. The design of the car is not exactly a tall-boy but you do get in with reasonable ease. The whole cabin feels extremely airy as well all thanks to the high head room and the two tone greige (grey + beige) colour theme.
The first thing you look for after you settle down in the driver’s seat is look for the START BUTTON which Nissan has been highlighting in almost all of their commercials and print adds. Kudos to Nissan as the Micra is now the cheapest car and the only hatch to be equipped with a button operated start stop and key-less entry and next car equipped with the feature is the Cruize from the General Motors stable which costs almost twice as much!


Nissan Micra XV Premium

The steering wheel of the Micra sports a three spoke design with leather wrapping on the top end variant that we drove. One also find thumb accents for grip but they are not as prominent as in the Fiat cars. At first the steering appears a bit big and the proportions also very unusual and very retro but the design redeems itself when you notice that it office such a clear view of the dash and instrument panel. The steering also has some chrome touches to the spokes that give a nice feel of quality.
The panel gaps are uniform and all the buttons feel solid and built to last. Spend some time in the cabin and you notice the small touches, like the lovely design of the door panels and the the high shine chrome door handles. All very distinct and in a good way.
Nissan Micra XV PremiumThe fabric quality is good and keeping up with the other components in the car. The front seats offer good side back support and adequate lumbar support. The leg and knee room for the front passengers is quite good and combined with a spacious foot well for the driver together will go a long way in making the long drive more comfortable.
Nissan Micra XV PremiumAlong with the key-less entry and start stop button, another feature which is a first in a car belonging to this segment is retractable wing mirrors which is such a boon in city traffic and one less thing to worry about which you go set out or park. Set to AUTO mode and they retract on switching off the engine and open when start and it can’t get easier can it? Just one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the placement of the mirror adjustment switch. The four way joy stick and other switched related to the mirror adjustment are located on the panel south west of the steering column which is a little awkward to reach and the small size of the left-right mirror selector only makes matters worse.Nissan Micra XV Premium
The gear lever slots with a pleasurable click. Gear shifts are short except the first gear which is a bit of a stretch.
The rear seat provides for decent leg room but can comfortably seat 2 with three being a bit of a squeeze. But the large windows and high hear room give the rear passenger a very airy feel.Nissan Micra XV Premium
The air-conditioner is quite effective and cools the cabin fast. The XV premium variant that we drove was equipped with automatic climate control. Central ac vents work to blow the blast to the rear passengers.

Engine and power train:Nissan Micra XV Premium
I am saddened that this a text review. Had this been an audio visual you would surely have me going woooohooohooo the moment I am reminded of the car’s engine. The heart of the Nissan Micra is the same 1500 cc, 64 bhp Common Rail motor which does service in the Renault Logan. A lot of people who haven’t driven the Logan would have seen the numbers and come up with a not-very-excited expression and I don’t blame them. 160 Nm of torque delivered at 2000 rpm and max power of 64 bhp at 4000 rpm are not exactly figures that set your pulse racing. Nissan Micra XV Premium
Having said that, those who have driven the Logan with this engine know perfectly well how “torque-y” this engine is in the Logan especially at the lower of the power train where it matters. Put the same engine in a much smaller and lighter Micra and you have a very favourably enhanced power to weight ratio and coupled with the a fantastic gear box, this is a sizzler!
The city drivability of the Micra Diesel is quite good. Thanks to the gear ratios, one does not have to engage in frequent gear shifts. One should be able to ample around in routine city traffic in the third and for that urgent urban overtake, just hit the gas pedal and you get the response with minimal lag and it almost makes city driving pleasurable.
But to be really honest, this engine redeems itself when you show it the highway to spread its legs and how! It is amazing how the car reaches and continues to cruise at speeds in excess of 140 kmph without much fuss. The way it goes about doing it is so seamless that it is almost deceptive. You do not have to coax the engine much and you realize you are now burning some serious rubber at speeds in excess of 160 kmph! Let me also bring to your attention that while we were cruising at about the 160 kmph mark, the tachometer read 3500 rpm! We simply could not believe what we were seeing! Continue accelerating and you reach 170 kmph with as much ease with a fair bit of punch to spare! We believe that the car will peak at about 175 kmph! Simply fantastic!
The above figures suggest that this is a fairly fast car! But, yes, this comes with a word of caution. The moment you cross speeds in excess of 130-ish kmph, the car tends to over-react to minor disturbances  on the road which can be slightly unnerving. Our advice, stay within sane speed limits and you will grin all the way to your destination.Nissan Micra XV Premium

Ride and handling:
Nissan Micra XV PremiumThe suspension of the Micra is quite good. It soaks up bad pot holes and bumps really well. At the heart of the car is this engine which is a bit heavy as its a big diesel motor. All the weight concentrated in the front causes the vehicle to under-steer a fair bit. Add to that a fairly soft and comfortable suspension and there you have a fairly ordinary cornering behaviour. For a car that is this fast, the breaking could have been a lot better just like the European hatches that are available in India.

Add to that the absence of ABS and EBD which could be an effort to keep the costs down considering this is a 1500cc motor and we hope that they are introduced at least as optional upgrades in the future keeping the speedy nature of this car in mind.

Overall evaluation:

The engine being 1500 cc does not qualify for the concessions and hence we were expecting a very pricey car but kudos to Nissan who have managed to price it fairly competitively. A fantastic engine, a very good gear box and fairly loaded top end variant with goodies like climate control, retractable ovrms and keyless entry being the highlights makes it a good package! And, of course, at the cost of repetition, an extremely fast car!The product is also backed with an exhaustive road side assistance program which should help the penetration of the sales of the Micra across the country.
The company has also been working on strengthening its dealership network across the country. Today the country has 22 dealerships and plan to expand this network to over a 100 by 2013. Will this one be as well received as its petrol twin, only time will tell.