While the competition in the small car segment grows from generation to generation, it has Nissan Micra took a step back in development when it last changed models. This form of regression was previously a disadvantage, but should now be converted into an advantage if possible. For this purpose, the Japanese are adjusting the price positioning of their entry-level model.
The Micra is in dire need of such help. Only 5.600 customers were found throughout Germany in the first half of the year, eleven percent less than in the previous year and a few thousand fewer than with direct competitors such as Toyota Yaris, Kia Rio, Suzuki Swift or Mazda3. Anyone who approaches the smallest Nissan will quickly know why this is: Especially in comparison with the new and stylish Mazda and Kia, the Micra looks a class weaker. Even compared to its own predecessor (built 2003 to 2010), the current Micra does rather poorly. Consequently, Nissan now no longer treats the five-door car as a small car, but as a small car. Since the last price round in summer, the basic model has only cost 10.390 euros - hardly more than a VW Up, Kia Picanto or Opel Karl in the entry-level version. And compared to these models, it now performs significantly better.
When getting in, for example, the unsightly hard plastic cockpit is less of a nuisance. And economy measures such as the absence of a headlight icon in the central instrument or the lack of an engine temperature display are more relaxed in a small car than in a small car. The smallest passenger car segment is also familiar with the fact that the seats are upholstered in a binding manner but are not contoured. The Micra is at least ergonomically neat, the sitting position is high, friendly to the back, the controls are at hand and the space available at the front is neat. Children also sit reasonably comfortably in the back, and entry is easy thanks to the standard rear doors. It is usually less comfortable in real small cars. The Micra can also clearly stand out in terms of trunk volume, which could convince even when compared to a small car. Also because the loading sill is low and the cargo area cutout is relatively generous.
In the core of the basic engine, the Micra has always been a small car. His 1,2-liter three-cylinder with 59 kW / 80 PS is known from countless other models in the mini class. Unlike the competition, the Micra also comes with a supercharged version, in which a compressor provides 72 kW / 98 PS. In principle, the direct-injection engine drives like an 1,4-liter gasoline engine, uses the loader only from medium engine speeds and makes its maximum power available late on 4.400 tours. Basically a pleasant companion not only for city traffic, but also for occasional trips on the highway and country road. However, high travel speed makes the engine thirsty despite the long gear ratio in the top gear of the five-speed gearbox, so that you quickly move away from the normal 5,8 liter test cut in the direction of seven liters. The whole car suddenly becomes loud when it crosses the 130 km / h limit.
People like to stay in city traffic, where the Micra can best show off its maneuverability and the good clarity of the body. The chassis neatly ironed out bumps and still has suspension reserves even when fully loaded. The high-rise Nissan, on the other hand, doesn't like curves and quick changes of direction. The less precise steering and the crooked five-speed gearshift also prevent increased driving pleasure. But you wouldn't expect that from a small car either.
From this perspective, the price cut - which is very unusual in the car industry - is a wise move. Even if the basic version has only become a good 1.000 euros cheaper: in the small classes these are worlds. Of course, the 10.390 euros are still just a lure price. If you want not only the bare car, but also a little comfort, you have to choose the second equipment variant "Acenta", the price list of which starts at 12.390 euros. There, however, the price has dropped even more than for the entry-level model: by 1.780 euros. The variant with the compressor motor offers the same price advantage, which is now available from 14.090 euros.
The bottom line is therefore always the opponents you choose. As long as the Micra competed in the small car segment, it was at best lower mediocrity. In the small car segment, on the other hand, it can now keep up with the top group simply because of its superior size. It remains to be seen whether that will be enough to catch up with new competitors in terms of sales. Nissan does not seem to have any great hope of a late success for the Micra either: At the beginning of the year there was already an unofficial successor at the Geneva Motor Show, which is again significantly sleeker and more modern than the current model and directly against Mazda2 and Co. seems to be positioned.
Author: Holger Holzer / SP-X