28.11.2011 Nissan Micra DIG-S review
Nissan's high tech Micra DIG-S delivers the convenience of petrol motoring with close to the economy of diesel and without the drawbacks of noise, smell and more difficult starting in winter. There's also none of the grief of a diesel particulate filter – used to trap those injurious to health small sooty particles – getting clogged up if the car rarely gets driven briskly.
What you do lose is the low revs torque that makes diesels restful to drive. The Micra is surprisingly spacious for its size and has a good boot, but it's dull to drive compared to, say, a Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa or VW Polo.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
Livelier than you might expect from a three-cylinder 1198cc petrol engine but that's because it's supercharged to produce 96 bhp, though at a rather high 5,600 rpm so it still takes quite a few revs to get the car off the mark. That's 22% more power than a standard Micra, yet driven with care the DIG-S is much more economical, approaching fuel figures normally the regime of a diesel. Maximum torque of 104 lbs ft is produced at 4,400 rpm. Acceleration to 62 mph takes 11.2 seconds, whilst top speed is 112 mph.
Don't try and stay with an enthusiastically driven Ford Fiesta on twisty roads is the best advice. Though the engine, being smaller and lighter (and simpler) than usual motors takes weight off the nose, the Micra DIG-S is a determined understeerer when you reach corners and the woolly steering doesn't give much feedback, further reducing driver confidence in the grip available. Softish suspension means bumps don't throw the car off course but might make passengers feel a bit queasy.
The Micra looks like a car that was styled by the tea boy, to use an old joke. Being an anonymous bubble on wheels means it isn't likely to win many sales on its appearance – reliability is what will sell this car. The cabin looks a little cheap and low rent though it is rather spacious and the seats proved comfy enough. High trim versions have glass roof section which makes the cabin very light and airy. Rear seats are split 60:40. The boot is a good size by supermini standards. Total length is 3780 mm and width is 1675 mm.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Depending on your height, the driving position might be compromised by only being able to adjust the steering for rake, not for reach. Otherwise, the driving position is fine and the clutch and gear changes are light and easy. A continuously variable automatic gearbox (CVT) is optional but saps power and increases fuel consumption.
Motorway cruising is no problem with 3,000 rpm in fifth (top) gear a little over an indicated 70 mph. The cabin of the test car was rather too noisy at some speeds, particularly on rougher surfaces. The satellite navigation worked well but the screen is set rather low down and its controls are small.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Official test figures show 68.9 mpg on the combined cycle and 95 g/km for the £11,150 Visia trim version. 'Our' better equipped and heavier Tekna test car rated at 65.7 mpg and 99 g/km so still escapes road tax (and London congestion charge) being in VED band A. Test car averaged 38 to 55 mpg in real life conditions depending on driver urgency. Insurance is group 8/9 and warranty lasts for three years/60,000 miles with servicing every 12,500 miles.
The Micra DIG-S incorporates the latest low emission technology with an intelligent alternator, Miller engine cycle, low friction engineering and automatic engine start-stop to save fuel in traffic. Miller cycle engines keep the intake valve open during part of the compression stroke, so the piston is compressing against the pressure of the supercharger rather than the pressure of the cylinder walls. This increases efficiency by an estimated 15%. Overall, the Micra DIG-S achieves a Next Green Car rating of 29.
The Tekna trim test car cost a hefty £14,111 including optional metallic paint (£420) and carpet mats (£41) while Micra prices for none supercharged models start at £9,650. Tekna kit includes touchscreen sat nav, telephone Bluetooth and audio streaming, climate control, glass roof, cruise control, parking slot measurement, rear parking sensors, power steering, alloy wheels, electric windows and side and curtain airbags.
Model tested: Nissan Micra DIG-S Tekna
Body-style: Five-door hatchback supermini
Engine/CO2: Supercharged 1198cc petrol / 99 g/km
Trim grades: Visia, Aventa, Tekna
On-road price: £13,650
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 3.0 STARS
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