The changing dynamics of the world are fast turning objects of luxury an absolute necessity. A 4G powered cellular connection, for example, which sounded like a distant dream only a couple of years ago, is now a bare need, you feel strangulated the moment the connection speed drops to even 3G, forget 2G. Premium video streaming services are now a must have, as no one has the time to abide by lousy TV schedules to watch their favourite shows. E-commerce has revolutionized the way we shop, and everything from dairy products, groceries and apparel is now delivered to your doorstep, not just free of charge, but at a discount. Affordable automatic cars are one such category. While not so long back car buyers would only look dreamily at the prospect of buying an automatic car, the clogging up of cities has made the use of clutch and shifter stick more of a pain than enjoyment. As a result, automatic cars are fast becoming the default choice and are no more a luxurious alternative for most metropolitan commuters.
The Nissan Micra with its CVT automatic transmission has been around for some time. The globally renowned model received an update this June, getting some interesting new features and aesthetic updates. We took the new Nissan Micra MC CVT out for a spin and figured that it’s a great option for those looking for an automatic option. Here are out first impressions
The Nissan Micra received a facelift a couple of years back, wherein it broke away from its relatively retro-feminine demeanour to a properly modern, unisex proposition. The sharp boomerang headlamps, the new Nissan V family grille, along with the LED tail-lamps worked really well to refresh the car’s appeal.
For the 2017 model update, the Micra retains its exterior elements, though it now comes with Guide-me-Home functionality incorporated within its headlamps. There’s now a dedicated key to turn the headlamps on when the car is locked, to illuminate the way ahead and to locate it easily while trying to find it in places like a parking lot. Smart looking 15-inch eight-spoke alloys along with chrome housed front fog-lamps and premium chrome lining within the central air dam adds to the premium appeal of the car.
The Micra retains its iconic proportions, though it has adopted some smart changes to look very fresh and today. It looks very unique and stands out with its distinctive take on design which lends it loads of character, if not making it the most beautiful machine of the lot.
Interior and features
Inside the cabin, the new Micra features European black interiors to make the innards look rich and sophisticated. The dashboard is now all black, and so are the seats, with weaved pattern on the spine and bottom area. The standard model comes with silver highlights on the dashboard, steering wheel, around the drive selector and on door mounted armrests.
You can, however, have the option for going for a jazzier, contrasting orange highlight scheme wherein these elements are finished in a bright orange hue. The seats also get a sporty orange stitching if you opt for the sportier version. The Micra CVT is available in 7 exciting colours and the orange interior option is available with all the seven shades.
In addition to its keyless push button start/stop feature, the new Micra gets automatic rain-sensing wipers and automatic headlamps as standard in the top of the line XV variant we tested. On a rain-drenched day, like the one we tested the car on, it helps immensely to see the wipers working by themselves, controlling their speed automatically, depending on the intensity of showers and offering a hassle-free experience. All these intelligent features are typically available in more expensive premium sedans. It’s really heartening to see these smart bits being available on a very well-priced hatchback.
The 2-din infotainment unit on offer is also new, and in addition to the tuner and CD player, also offers Bluetooth, USB and Aux-in connectivity. The steering wheel gets mounted controls and allows for hands-free operation for calls. The centre console, wrapped in piano black also features the AC control unit which is fully automatic.
The space inside is ample, as the well cushioned front seats wrapped in a soft fabric offer great comfort and support with their side bolstering. Front doors get space for a full-sized water bottle and map pockets. There are two cupholders under the centre console area. The driver side seat gets an armrest as standard.
The ORVMs here are power folding, and can be electronically controlled using the control panel on the dash to the right of the steering wheel.
Within the instrument panel, in addition to the speedo, tacho and tell-tale lights, you get a basic looking yet information-rich display which lets you know the distance to dry, average and instantaneous fuel efficiency and comprises an odo and two trip meters along with a clock.
The space at the back is sufficient if not overly generous. There’s plenty of head and leg-room for the average sized adult, though the seat squab could have been longer for even better thigh support. There’s a bottle holder for the back benchers between the front seats, though the rear doors of the Micra doesn’t have any door pockets. The boot space available is a decent 251 litres.
Engine, drive, and performance
The Micra XV CVT is powered by a 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol motor good for 77PS of power and 104 Nm of torque. The engine is mated to a CVT auto transmission. Together, the engine transmission combo is rated surprisingly high at 19.34 kmpl for its fuel efficiency by ARAI.
In addition to offering that surprisingly high fuel efficiency for an automatic, the highlight of the CVT transmission on the Micra is its creamy smooth shifts at slow to medium city speeds while you use part throttle or feather it. It feels uncannily smooth, very unlike some other torque converters or AMTs which have a certain degree of jerkiness associated with them every time you put the foot down.
On the highway, the car feels well-planted and responds well to inputs. At the end of it, however, it’s a CVT, and going pedal to the metal, expecting kickdowns does lead to a fair degree of lag. That, however, is the case with all such applications within this price bracket and the Micra performs appreciably on that parameter on a relative basis. Compared with the other options available in the segment, the Xtronic CVT Automatic leads the pack in the transmission department. In some sense, Nissan has taken the leadership position in the affordable hatchback segment in terms of auto transmission tech with the Micra CVT.
We liked the Micra’s smooth engine, its creamy transmission, the easy to use, light steering, absorbent ride and more than anything its low-slung sporty driving position. There’s also a nice raspy note to the three-pot motor and you can listen to it by gunning it while the windows are rolled down.
The performance from the engine could have been stronger at higher speeds, though the Micra is meant primarily for the city and works effortlessly within those environment. For those looking at a refined, convenient way to travel through the city, the Micra would work like a charm.
Should I buy it?
The Micra CVT is meant essentially for the urban dwellers who want a refined, well-styled, comfortable and convenient city runabout with an international badge and good engineering. Compared with its nearest competitors like the Brio AT and the Grand i10 AT, the Micra is similarly priced, though it offers some great features like auto lamps / wipers, front armrest, CD player, push button start, trip computer, LED tail / stop lamps, follow me home lamps, rear wiper and rear arm-rest which are not available on the rival models. The bigger hatches that offer an auto transmission, like the Jazz and the Baleno are significantly more expensive than the Micra. Also, even some of the newer entrants in the field like the Ignis offer only AMT as the automatic option, which, technically is an inferior and cheaper technology as compared to CVT. In that sense the Micra’s CVT auto translates in good value for the customer, as it’s a machine from a premium international carmaker and has an impeccable international standing as a proven car.
It’s a no-nonsense car which does almost everything a reasonably priced automatic should. If convenience and features are high on your wish list, then you should most definitely take the Micra CVT out for a spin. The Micra CVT is available in two trims:
Micra CVT XL – INR 5.95 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Micra CVT XV – INR 6.97 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Here is a video on our first impressions of the new 2017 Nissan Micra (MC) CVT:
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