We have already sampled the 1.5 diesel version recently, so how does the new 0.9 litre turbo Micra stack up in the every increasing world of small three cylinder engined cars?
As already mentioned, I had the chance to sample the all new Micra (in diesel tune) a little while back. Being fascinated about this new breed of little triple engines, it made sense to have a play with the petrol version. This I did of course and a black N-Connecta version was dispatched to me recently. The 1.5 (90PS) version in my view is a decent and very stylish looking machine – does the petrol model rate highly too?
When browisng through the press sheet, I was amused at the length of its official title – here goes: Nissan Micra N-Connecta 0.9L IG-T 90. Sounds impressive huh? Being some 600cc smaller than the diesel of the same power, the petrol model is somewhat lighter on the front wheels. Nissan have engineered the car with different spring and damper settings so the ride and handling remains pretty much the same – pretty good all round.
On paper though its power and torque figures look a little disappointing – 90PS with 140Nm of torque. Outright power is fine but the quoted figures for the torque show its peak pulling power at 2250rpm. All is not lost however, the engine actually pulls strongly from low revs – 1300 rpm upwards the 0.9 litre will pick up the pace quite well and continues to zip along almost up to the rev limiter. Its not too unrefined either off the boil- a happy sounding engine is how I’d best describe it if you tootle along.
“Its edgy and bang up the minute in terms of visual appeal and the standard kit be it for safety or convenience works with ruthless efficiency“
The five speed manual gearbox has a slightly loose but defined feel as it slips in and out of the ratios but the clutch pedal, as before, seems rather high off the floor. Once again, the controls and interior presentation is very good. Its edgy and bang up the minute in terms of visual appeal and the standard kit be it for safety or convenience works with ruthless efficiency – I just love the virtual 360 degree camera… it makes parking rather fun and interesting – honest!
What I did notice though was the way the power delivery seems to be rather lumpy and hesitant, this is especially noticeable with the air conditioning switched on. As with all cars, when you require hard acceleration, the A/C pump cuts out momentarily to relieve load from the engine. I noticed a jolt through the drive-line when this occurs – especially in second gear. Also, the gearing is quite long legged so you find yourself driving a bit harder than normal to maintain swift progress.
“…induction roar and offbeat growl of the engine is really pronounced in the cabin which lead to one passenger asking me if something had broken“
Refinement when cruising is pretty good, in fact when licking along at the required legal 70mph only the road/ tyre noise from the rear hampers what is a nice environment to travel in. Press on that bit harder in urban areas or when overtaking after a down-shift, both the induction roar and offbeat growl of the engine is really pronounced in the cabin which lead to one passenger asking me if something had broken. To summarise in general, the 0.9 Micra is either very quiet and smooth… or very loud and rough.
I think the engine software / noise insulation could be improved to reduce the drive-line shunt and interior noise levels during acceleration. Its a funny sensation best described as a car that almost feels unfinished in its engineering. Not enough perhaps to discourage potential owners but enough to make you realise how good rival brands have developed their own three cylinder drive-lines. Otherwise the current Micra talents of style, interior presentation and user friendly technology still shine.
AUTOBRITANNIA RATING: 7/10
The Humble Opinion:
Looks great inside and out while having the advantage of a good dealer network. If low mileage urban driving is your thing, the 0.9 Micra will fit the bill – and turn heads in the High Street too. A couple of passers by were keen to ask questions about it!
Even though diesel is becoming unpopular, the 1.5 90PS car is by far the better option all round. That is until the rough edges can be smoothed off on the 0.9 petrol. This for the moment is a shame as I adore the looks and the whole package of the Micra – it IS a cracking little car otherwise.
If you want to experience how to package and engineer a small petrol triple correctly, sample a Fiesta Ecoboost and (ahem)… feel the difference.
MODEL TESTED: Nissan Micra N-Connecta 0.9 I-GT90
PRICE: £15,995 excluding options
Driveline: 0.9L 3cyl 12v turbo with 5sp manual gearbox
Power / Torque: 90PS / 140Nm
Economy: *64.2mpg combined (56.3mpg actual on test)
Co2 Output: 104G/Km
Performance: *0 – 60 in 12 seconds with 109mph max
*= Manufacturers or Govt claimed data
WHATS GREAT ABOUT IT?
- Looks edgy and stylish
- Tidy road holding
- Brilliant safety kit
- Well equipped despite minimalist interior look
- Smooth when cruising
- Turns heads and becomes a conversation starter
WHAT GRATES ABOUT IT?
- Lumpy power delivery when hurried
- Cabin noise from engine under load
- Rear headroom compromised
- Some bits and bobs feel cheap to the touch
- Drive-line feels like it was hurried into production
For more information on the all new Micra CLICK HERE