It may have been one of our stars of last week’s Paris motor show, but the French-built 2017 Nissan Micra won’t come to Australia for some time yet — it it ever comes at all.
The sharp new Micra marks a major departure for Nissan, resembling the 2015 Nissan Sway concept and leveraging the alliance with Renault to full effect. It’s a sharp detour from the cheap-and-cheerful predecessor, recently axed.
However, Nissan Australia managing director Richard Emery told us this week that any local launch into the light segment here was very much a subject of debate, rather than a foregone conclusion.
“There are no Australian plans for the just-revealed Micra at this point, it’s on the list of product considerations, [but] it’s not our only option in that segment in Australia,” he said.
“There are a number of other vehicles that would fit the same demographic segment, and for that space it’s [Micra] in the consideration set but by no means a live project. We have a number of options that’ll cover that segment. We don’t have a firm direction.”
What exactly Emery means is unclear, though he did say that the potential models to fill the light car segment, as well as the small car segment (now that the Pulsar hatch has been axed) were a combination of future product as-yet unseen, and existing cars.
This means there might be some other new light car that will soon premiere and come here. The fact the Micra is made alongside the Clio, in France, would make it a premium proposition, meaning it may not stack up from a volume/business case perspective.
Consider the fact that light car sales are down 17.5 per cent this year, and are dominated by the budget-priced Hyundai Accent. The market may not seem alluring.
Still, such a good-looking little car would surely bolster Nissan’s ordinary passenger range here, especially since its imminent and belated Nismo rollout surely confirms that it recognises its image problem.
Headlining the fifth-generation Micra is the inclusion of active safety technologies; like autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure assist, along with new powertrains, upgraded infotainment, and obviously, a completely new look.
Measuring 3999mm long, 1743mm wide and 1455mm tall, the new Micra is 174mm longer, 77mm wider and 55mm shorter than its predecessor. The wheelbase has grown by a significant 75mm to 2525mm, which will no doubt improve rear passenger comfort.
For the first time, the Micra will be offered with an array of Nissan’s active safety features across all grades. It will be the first in its segment to be available with lane-departure assist, while the Micra also offers autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian protection and a surround camera system – normally reserved for larger models.
Other advanced technologies include traffic sign recognition, high beam assist and blind spot monitoring.
Inside, the Micra will be available with a 7.0-inch colour infotainment system, equipped with satellite navigation, Apple CarPlay and access to downloadable apps.
Audiophiles will be happy to hear that the new hatch will be offered with an all-new six-speaker Bose Personal sound system, which is optimised for the driver – featuring two speakers built into the driver’s headrest.
Like the Qashqai and X-Trail, the Micra will feature Active Ride Control, which controls the engine and brakes when travelling over bumps to limit the vehicle’s fore-aft pitching motion.
Under the bonnet at launch (in Europe at least) will be a choice of three engines; two petrol, one diesel.
The main is a 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, producing 66kW of power and 140Nm of torque (150Nm on overboost).