The Nissan Micra has become a common sight on British roads but whether it has been a welcome sight is definitely up for debate. It is fair to say that styling has been the defining factor in the Micra’s success, splitting opinion into the ‘love it’ and ‘hate it’ camps has guaranteed emotionally driven sales, which was a good thing given that the Micra has never shone dynamically.
That’s why we think Nissan has taken a major gamble with the fourth generation model. To our eye the new Micra is, dare we say, bland. In any attempt to make the car appeal to a wider range of potential buyers across a wider range of countries, Nissan has made the Micra ultra-conservative which means that it needs some new tricks to attract buyers.
Thanks to DIG-S the new model starts off on the right foot. The new Direct Injection Gasoline – Supercharged engine is a technical tour de force which apart from the obvious features also uses specially shaped pistons, improved exhaust gas recirculation and a higher compression ratio to deliver exceptional fuel consumption and a healthy 97 bhp.
As is now the norm in eco models the Micra also gets an intelligent alternator and engine stop/start. What is more remarkable is that under light load the engine switches to the more efficient Miller Cycle and decouples the supercharger before switching back to the conventional Otto cycle at higher rpm. This does mean that DIG-S engine lacks the immediate torque that you would expect at low rpm with a supercharger but it maximises efficiency.
So the Micra has a seriously high tech engine, but unfortunately this is the only area where the new model excels. In every other aspect the Micra struggles to match the best in class and with the muted styling it could do with a few extra strong cards. The DIG-S system is a credit to Nissan but you get the feeling that the rest of the car didn’t get the attention it deserves.