With Fuel Prices de-regulated in India, Petrol prices have touched new highs and there seems to be no respite in sight. It was 55/- per litre when we had the Petrol Micra and is up to over 63/- per litre today. I won’t be surprised if soon we’d be paying close to Rs.100/- per litre of Petrol. The common man is feeling the pinch and many are opting for more economical means to travel. Though nothing can beat Public Transport, it seems like if you do have to travel by your own car, a diesel variant, with the lower cost of Diesel and its higher mileage, is proving to be more economical.
Volumes and waiting period for Diesel cars, as well as their resale value speak for themselves. So within 5 months of launching the Petrol variant of the Micra, Nissan has launched its Diesel sibling. As opposed to the 3 Trims on the petrol variant, the Nissan Micra Diesel gets only the top end XV and XV Premium variants. Priced at 5.6 lac (Ex-Showroom Pune) for the XV and 6.2 lac for the XV Premium, we feel that Nissan should have provided a cheaper XL trim as well to really encroach in the Swift territory.
We test the Diesel Nissan Micra to see how it scores against its competition. As the Diesel and Petrol variants are more or less similar, our regular readers will find certain sections being carried over from the Petrol review.
As explained before, the Nissan Micra Diesel comes in just two variants.
The Diesel XV variant comes with unique Intelligent Keyless Entry and an engine Start-Stop button (you need to look at the Cruze at close to 13 lac to get this feature, and the Start-Stop button on the Micra looks so much better than the one found on the Cruze), Driver Airbags only (no Passenger Airbags as on the Petrol trim), Electrically Operated Mirrors with Button Fold, beige interiors, rear wash and wipe, chrome strip on the front grill etc.
The XV Premium trim gets the round Automatic Climate Control AC, upsized 15” Alloy Wheels, Rear roof spoiler, Front fog lamps, Leather wrapped Steering wheel and gear knob and chrome inner door handles. No ABS and EBD on the Diesels though.
The Diesel variant looks just like the petrol variant, with only the dCi badge that can tell the two apart. 'Round' is the inspiration behind the Micra. It’s quite a fabulous and unique design which should go down well with the masses. The intelligent key, which is one of the Micra’s USPs, is standard on the Diesel variant. All the doors of the car can be opened or closed with just a press of the request switch on the door handles, as long as you have the key within a distance of 3 feet. The boot can be opened via a handle at the back which makes life a whole lot more convenient and there is a request switch on the boot release handle too.
The clear oval headlights, bonnet creases and slip front Grill add character to the front. The rear too is nice and uncluttered with just the Micra and dCi badge.The twin boomerang design on the roof adds strength without increasing weight.
The car runs on 165/70 MRF ZVT Tyres on 14” Rims. The XV Premium gets 175/60 tyres on 15” Alloys wheels. Rear fog lamps unfortunately are still missing.
Electrically adjustable mirrors with Auto fold Function come as standard. The concave mirrors show 2 lanes clearly and the large 'C' Pillar coupled with the small rear boot glass means that they are needed on a regular basis.
Boot space is adequate enough for the occasional long drive. Rear parcel tray and boot lights are present on both trims. A thermocol tool tray which rests in the spare wheel ensures that there is no irritating noise / rattling at the back.
Irregular panel gaps that we saw on our Petrol test car are thankfully a thing of the past.
The Round Theme continues on the Inside too. The airco vents are round and so is the central console panel theme, especially the Automatic Climate Control A/C on the XV Premium variant. The dashboard too is designed to resemble twin bubbles which Nissan claims gives the passengers a greater sense of security. The air vents circulate air effectively and the cabin chills in no time. If need be, they can also be completely shut.
The Soft Touch Dashboard looks and feels excellent. Reflections are also pretty low, quality of Plastics and fit and finish are very good. Seat fabrics are also very good and the seats are pretty comfortable. The doors close with a luxurious sounding Thud, usually associated with more expensive cars.
Leg room, both front and back, is excellent and even a six footer won't feel cramped up. The rear seat could do with a little more Thigh Support but the angle is comfortable and no discomfort was felt even when sitting on it for 2-3 hours at a stretch. The Rear seats do fold, however no 60:40 option available here.
Headroom is adequate enough and the cabin has a very Airy feel to it, thanks to the large rear windows. The 'Wheel at Each Corner' stance means that the Micra is quite large on the inside and can easily accommodate 3 people at the back. The rear bench does not have adjustable head rests, instead just a couple of raised areas in the seat, like in the Alto, which is very low and for all practical purposes, quite useless.
The front seats and large and comfortable and your leg does not hit the steering wheel or central console or the doors like on some other smaller hatches. No driver seat height adjuster is available on any variant, but the seat is high enough to ensure that a majority of the drivers won't have any problems. The 'A' Pillar also does not obstruct vision or create any blindspots.
The Multi-Information Display provides information such as 2 Trip Distances, Instantaneuos Mileage, Average Fuel Consumption, and Distance to Empty. However, the Odometer is not always visible – instead, the time shows permanently below the MID. So if you want to check what mileage the car is giving and also see how much distance you are covering at the same time, that is not possible. Also, the MID can only be changed by a knob on the speedometer console, so you need to leave your hand off the steering wheel every time you want to change the display. Not very convenient and in my opinion, not very safe either.All 4 Power Windows are standard and the Drivers Side also gets One Touch Down and Up function.
The steering wheel is large, feels nice to hold and it is fairly easy to operate the horn. This time around, the Nissan logo is in Chrome and adds a fresh look to the steering wheel.
The doors do not lock automatically once you start moving. Instead you have to manually lock / unlock them every time. Also, a 'Seat Belt Not Worn' buzzer is not present.
Factory fitted music system is provided with facility for Aux-In (no USB though). The music / speaker quality is fairly OK and the voice does tend to crack at high volumes.
Both Variants get Beige interiors. The XV Premium also gets chrome inner door handles. The round, easy to grab door handles add a touch of uniqueness to the Micra.
We still feel a lack of storage space. You get a couple of bottle holders on the front doors, one behind the gear lever for the rear passengers and a couple of glass holders up front. But apart from that, no small coin boxes or compartments where you could store that loose change or little receipts. The glove box is small and located quite low. The upper glove box which we see on the Petrol XV trim is also missing.
Now to the Business end: the Ride Quality of the Micra Diesel remains top notch. The MRF ZVTV Tyres offer Excellent Grip and Traction and the suspension setup is specially designed for India. Body Roll however, does tend to creep in due to the Suspension being set up on the softer side, though it’s not all that bad. Even under hard cornering at quite high speeds, much against my expectation, the car held its line perfectly. The additional 80 kgs weight of the Diesel Micra makes it slightly more stable than the Petrol Micra’s.
The Steering is very, very light. It’s excellent in City Driving but does not weigh up enough as the speed increases. The steering offers no feel or feedback and the car feels twitchy at three digit speeds.
The 4.65 meter Turning Radius is quite small (almost like the Alto), which again aids city driving. NVH levels have been kept well in check and once inside the cabin, you tend to get quite oblivious to the world outside.
Driver Airbags come standard, but the Diesels do not get Passenger airbags nor do they get ABS and EBD. To save costs is one thing but to deny, what can today be considered as basic safety features, is quite disappointing.
Back to the 4 pots (as opposed to 3 cylinders in the Petrol) for the Micra Diesel. Nissan has equipped the car with the very reliable, extremely fuel efficient and very high selling (though maybe not in India) Renault Logan engine in the Micra. Coded K9K, the 1.5 litre dCi engine produces 63 PS @ 6000 RPM and 160 NM of Torque @ 2000 RPM. The engine is relatively quiet and feels refined at idle and even at lower revs but does tend to get a bit vocal above 3500 RPM.
There is slight vibration at the gear lever and if you have your hand on the Gear Stick you can feel the transmission movement while accelerating, but then again it is quite negligible and not too much of a bother.
You get the Start / Stop button as standard on the Diesel Micra. De-press the Clutch Lever, Hit the Start button, Slot the gear in 1st and you’re set to go. Drivability is above par. You get minimal turbo lag and the Micra Diesel returns decent acceleration figures.
Weighing in at just over the ton, the Micra has a power to weight ratio of 63 PS/ton as opposed to 61 PS/Ton for the Figo, 64 PS/Ton for the Swift and 67 PS/Ton for the Polo.
Acceleration figures are promising, with the Micra managing to do the 0-20 kmph sprint in 2.94 seconds, 0-60 kmph in 6.48 seconds and reach the ton in 14.56 seconds. 1 kilometer was completed in 16.55 seconds @ 107.43 kmph and the Quarter mile was reached in 19.52 seconds @ 115.55 kmph. Roll on times, 40-60 kmph is achieved in 3.76 seconds in 3rd gear while in 4th Gear it takes 6.94 seconds to complete the same run. 50-70 kmph in 5th Gear takes nearly 9.63 seconds.
The Micra can max 41 kmph in 1st gear @6800 RPM, 79 kmph in 2nd, 108 kmph in 3rd and 144 kmph in 4th gear. The top speed we managed was 160.7 kmph and we doubt there was much more left in the engine by then.
The gear shifter, just as in the Petrol variants, feels nice and meaty to hold and the shifts are precise.
Unfortunately there is no option for ABS or EBD on any Variant. Though there is enough braking power available, we did get into a couple of tricky moments. Nissan have provided a sort of dead pedal, which is a little raised area to the left of the Clutch Pedal and it does help.
Does the Diesel live upto the claimed (ARAI tested) 23.08 kmpl mark? With a bit of hypermiling techniques, perhaps. The Micra comfortably returned 16 kmpl and close to 21 kmpl on the highways. The average throughout the test was about 17.5 kmpl. If driven carefully on the Highways, between 80-120 kmph, the Micra returned 24.4 kmpl. The worst that we got was 12 kmpl during the performance runs.
|Ground Clearance (mm)||154|
|Kerb Weight (kgs)||930|
|Power (PS@ RPM)||76 @ 6000|
|Torque (NM@ RPM)||104 @ 4000|
|Min turning Radius||4.65|
|Tyres||165 / 70 R 14|
|Interior Colour Scheme - Black||Yes||Yes||No|
|Electric Power Steering||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Steering Tilt Adjustment||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Full Wheel Covers||No||Yes||Yes|
|Rear Wipe & Wash||No||Yes||Yes|
|Integrated Audio system||No||Yes||Yes|
|All 4 Power Windows||No||Yes||Yes|
|Central Door Lock||No||Yes||Yes|
|Remote Keyless Entry||No||Yes||Yes|
|Electric Park and Fold Mirror||No||No||Yes|
|Door Mirror Electric Adjustment||No||No||Yes|
|Interior Colour Scheme - Greige||No||No||Yes|
|Intelligent Key with Push Button Ignition||No||No||Yes|
|Front Passenger Airbags||No||No||Yes|
|ABS + EBD + BA||No||No||Yes|
|Front Fog Lamps||No||No||Yes|
|Onroad Price (Bangalore)||4.84 Lac||5.85 Lac||6.45 Lac|
Competition All Specs
|Ground Clearance (mm)||154||170||-||168||168|
|Kerb Weight (kgs)||930||1030||-||1090||1055|
|Power (PS@ RPM)||76 @ 6000||85 @ 6000||80 @ 5200||71 @ 6250||75 @ 5400|
|Torque (NM@ RPM)||104 @ 4000||113 @ 4500||112 @ 4000||102 @ 4000||110 @ 3750|
|Min turning Radius||4.65||4.7||-||4.9||4.9|
|Tyres||165 / 70 R 14||185 / 70 R 14||185 / 65 R 15||175 / 65 R 14||185 / 60 R 14|
|Climate Control AC||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Power Windows||Yes||Yes||Yes||Front Only||Yes|
|CD Player / Bluetooth||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Engine Start Stop Button||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Electric Mirrors with Auto-fold||Yes||No||Yes||No||No|
|On-Road Price (Bangalore)||6.45 Lac||6.10 Lac||7.50 Lac||5.50 Lac||6.90 Lac|
What Nissan had already managed with the Micra, was to provide a Comfortable, Spacious and fairly good looking car at a reasonable price. With the availability of an extremely fuel efficient and able Diesel engine, the proposition just gets better. The car rides and handles well and boasts of excellent fuel efficiency figures too. It has best in class features like the Intelligent Key & Engine Start Stop switch.
People have already taken well to the Petrol Micra and I don’t see why the Diesel variant should be any different. Of course, an XL variant costing around 5 lac Ex-showroom would have seen the Micra take a sizable chunk out of the Swift’s market share. Maybe they didn’t want volumes that they would probably not be able to manage. Nevertheless the sales chart looks promising and we just hope that Nissan can deliver the cars without a long waiting period.