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Sydney show: Nissan gets serious about Micra

The power of three: The most affordable Micra will be powered by a 56kW 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine.

Expanded Micra range to offer three-cylinder too as Nissan guns for light leadership

14 Oct 2010

NISSAN will offer more choice in its fourth-generation entry-level Micra range while slashing prices and ramping up equipment of the five-door hatchback as it sets out to capitalise on the headway made by the previous-generation Nissan light car in Australia.

Previously available only in a single, 1.4-litre four-cylinder automatic specification for $15,990 in this country, Nissan has added a cheaper 56kW 1.2-litre three-cylinder variant starting at just $12,990 with a manual gearbox (plus $2000 for the auto).

As well, the four-cylinder engine has been bumped up to 1.5 litres for a 3kW power boost to 75kW over its 1.4-litre predecessor.

12 center imageFrom top: Nissan Micra interior and three-cylinder engine, Nissan Navara ST-X 550, Nissan Pathfinder Ti 550, Nissan Patrol.

And, instead of just a four-speed automatic transmission, a five-speed manual transmission also will be on offer for the new, Thai-built car that will now come in three grades – ST, ST-L and Ti.

Details of the new Micra were revealed today on the eve of its public launch at the Australian International Motor Show tomorrow, ahead of its showroom debut next month.

Also at the show, Nissan is previewing its all-new, more upmarket V8 ‘premium’ Patrol that is unlikely to arrive in Australia for at least another year, as well as a new class-leading 3.0-litre 170kW/550Nm V6 diesel engine for its Navara ute and Pathfinder SUV twins.

The new Micra – built on the Nissan-Renault Alliance’s new global ‘V’ platform that is likely to spawn a sedan and other variants – has become the first Nissan to earn a five-star Green Vehicle Guide rating in Australia.

The three-cylinder Micra has a combined fuel rating of 5.9 litres per 100km – a substantial improvement over the 6.8L/100km of the previous 1.4-litre Micra.

However, this is well short of the 4.7L/100km achieved by the Indian-made 1.0-litre Suzuki Alto that also runs a three-cylinder engine.

The $11,790 Alto also emits less CO2 – 110g compared with the Micra’s 138g – but the Micra wins the power struggle, 56kW to 50kW.

The Alto also cannot offer a larger engine alternative like the Micra’s 75kW 1.5-litre unit, which consumes 6.5L/100km of petrol (down from 6.8L/100km in the previous generation).

Nissan has made sure that no one can accuse the company of leaving the Micra short on safety, jamming it with six airbags – including side and curtain airbags – ESC, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and brake assist.

Standard equipment also includes air-conditioning, tilt-adjust steering, Bluetooth and a multi-function drive computer that even includes an ‘anniversary reminder’, while target buyers will appreciate all the usual input jacks for iPods and the like, as well as CD player.

The top-of-the range Micra Ti ($16,990, plus $2000 for auto) steps up the standard equipment to include keyless start, climate control air-conditioning, front foglights and what Nissan describes as handbag storage.

Unveiling the new model in Sydney, Nissan Australia CEO Dan Thompson said he was confident the new Micra has what it takes to become the new light-car segment leader.

“We see three main conquest groups for the all-new Nissan Micra: first-time new-car buyers who value innovation, agility and contemporary fashion trends those who need a small and zippy second car that is inexpensive to run and more mature buyers scaling down but unwilling to give up state-of-the-art safety and convenience features they have come to expect,” he said.

“When you combine 25 years’ experience of designing compact cars for city driving with a totally new, versatile platform and Nissan production know-how, the result is a modern, satisfying and appealing car that is destined to be a serious competitor.” So far this year, Nissan Australia has sold 6267 Micras in its run-out phase – up 60 per cent on last year.

Its share of the light-car segment has grown from 4.5 per cent last year to a handy 6.2 per cent.

The segment-leading Hyundai Getz has sold 16,813 units for a 16.5 per cent share.

The new seventh-generation Patrol on show in Sydney brandishes a new 289kW/560Nm 5.6-litre V8 engine and a stack of high-tech features such as a world-first Hydraulic Body Control System that keeps the body in check in cornering.

The bad news for Patrol fans is that this vehicle is unlikely to make it to Australia until 2012, and even then it is expected to be sold as a premium model above the current model, which will soldier on into the future as part of a two-tier range.

No pricing has been provided for the new Patrol, which uses a seven-speed automatic transmission and a new All-Mode 4x4 system.

It also gets a number of electronic driver aids usually associated with luxury European cars, such as forward collision warning, lane departure warning and adaptive cruise control.

Of more immediate interest is the torquey new V9X V6 diesel engine for the European-built D40 Navara and the Pathfinder SUV, which share the same platform.

This 170kW/550Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel will power two new top-of-the-range models, the dual-cab Navara ST-X 550 and Pathfinder Ti 550.

The new V6 diesel gives the flagship Nissan ute a hefty 150Nm torque advantage over the previous champ, the manual-equipped Mitsubishi 2.5-litre Triton GLX-R, and 200Nm more than the auto Triton version that had 350Nm.

Peak torque in the Nissan is achieved at a low 1700rpm and is available to 2500rpm.

Revealed at the Geneva motor show earlier this year, the new models will be aimed at weekend warriors, including those who might be tempted out of big-bore Aussie utes.

Available early in 2011, the two models are equipped with a seven-speed automatic transmission.

The Navara ST-X 550 also gets a tub liner, satin black sportsbar with LED high-level brake light, a hard tonneau cover complete with remote central locking, smoked bonnet protector, front foglights, headlight washers, privacy glass, side mouldings and V6 badges.

The Pathfinder Ti 550 adds privacy glass, auto headlights, sunroof wind deflector, rain-sensing wipers, smoked bonnet protector, side moulding and V6 badges, rear foglights and body-coloured heated door mirrors on the outside. Inside, an upgraded DVD player features additional functionality, a nine-speaker audio system and an anti-theft alarm.

Mr Thompson described the performance of the new diesel as a “wall of torque”.

“With the Navara, we have a pinnacle dual-cab ute that is untouchable in terms of outright torque, while the Pathfinder now has a premium, refined engine that is the envy of the class,” he said.

“Both set significantly enhanced performance benchmarks that rivals will struggle to approach.”

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