The Micra’s unique styling sets it apart from many. Picture: SUPPLIED
The Micra’s unique styling sets it apart from many. Picture: SUPPLIED

With traffic piling up outside our offices, and my cellphone's navigation app beamed through the car’s display screen and showing many of the dreaded red lines of congestion, a weary journalist emerged from a dark basement behind the wheel of a mid-sized hatchback that’s now equipped with more features, and a manual gearbox, to join the throngs of Joburgers headed home. This new Nissan Micra Acenta Plus Tech model, the flagship derivative of the range, had better be good.

It is. This iteration of the Micra arrived having been reinvented to be bigger and impressively sophisticated above its oddly bulbous and analogue former self which is still sold alongside it as the Micra Active.

The edgy styling still looks fresh a year later with its standard fitment 17-inch alloy wheels. This new derivative comes with a snazzy black and Energy Orange cabin theme, a leather-clad steering wheel, cruise control, automatic headlights, six airbags plus more as standard.

The enhanced amenities also sees it gain better telephony, which aside from having Bluetooth communication, USB ports and AUX jack, also has Apple Carplay and Android Auto, Audiobooks and Spotify streaming compatibility. It also has a button activated Artificial Intelligence assistant on board to safely access some of its more interesting features, like sending social media updates while on the move without having to pick up your smartphone. All of these are beamed and controlled through a 17.78 cm touch-sensitive colour display.

It’s a cabin with snazzy digital features and a colour scheme you will either love or loathe, and it comes as standard fitment with the Acenta Plus Tech gradewalk. Picture: SUPPLIED
It’s a cabin with snazzy digital features and a colour scheme you will either love or loathe, and it comes as standard fitment with the Acenta Plus Tech gradewalk. Picture: SUPPLIED

Four cameras posted around the car give a 360° bird’s-eye view of the Micra’s surroundings via the display screen while Moving Object Detection marshals the car on the move. Further new safety tools are Blind Spot Warning and Intelligent Forward Emergency Braking.

Power for the Micra comes by way of a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with a displacement of 898cc. It's good for 66kW and 140Nm of torque and what Nissan reckons is a 0-100km/h sprint time of 12.1 seconds.

Hold the Micra’s throttle down long enough and a top speed of 170km/h should be reached. This is not performance that will blow your socks off, but it’s under 120km/h where the car truly shines. The small motor pulls healthily and smoothly enough and is accompanied by an audible but not unpleasant gruff hum of the three-cylinder engine.

Fortunately, the five-speed manual gearbox has a gentle shift action to it that lessens the grind of changing gears in traffic. Good tractability means you’ll not require as many downshifts to keep it on the boil, and this makes it an easy drive.

The cloth seats are comfy and also strengthen the citrus theme. Picture: SUPPLIED
The cloth seats are comfy and also strengthen the citrus theme. Picture: SUPPLIED

A hill-start assist function adds to greater usability. Also impressive is the suspension. Because of new Intelligent Ride Control software which applies subtle braking to prevent unpleasant upper body motion over bumps, there’s a crafted balance between overt cushiness, and a hardened texture when the going gets faster.

Intelligent Trace Control is another system which adjusts brake pressure on individual wheels through the twisties, giving the Acenta Plus Tech some nerve-calming levels of stability and good grip when you are being playful.  

Nuclear families will find this Micra a hatch with practical five doors and spaciousness, with hip styling and features that appeal to a broad audience.

The time spent with this car added more mileage to my already extensive experiences with this segment of cars and showed that it’s among the most expensive and sophisticated of the species rather than being yet another kitchen appliance.


Tech Specs

Engine

Type:  Three-cylinder turbo petrol

Capacity: 989 cc

Power: 66kW

Torque: 140Nm

Transmission

Type: Five-speed manual

Drivetrain

Type: Front-wheel drive

Peformance

Top speed: 170km/h

0-100km/h: 12.1 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 5.1l/100km (claimed) 6.0l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 115g/km

Standard features

Signature daytime running lights, follow me home & welcome lighting, Front fog lights, 60/40 split seats, Advanced Drive-Assist Display, Cruise control + Adjustable Speed Limiter, remote central locking, Energy Orange interior, audio system, handsfree Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay & Android Auto, steering wheel controls, six airbags, ABS, EBD, Brake Assist,Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), Hill-Start Assist (HSA), Intelligent Ride Control, Intelligent Trace Control.

Warranty:  Six years/150,000km

Service plan: Three years/90,000km

Price: R305,900

Lease*: R6,594 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit


Nissan Micra Acenta Plus Tech            

WE LIKE: Looks, energetic interior and performance

WE DISLIKE: Too pricey

VERDICT: It remains underrated yet it’s an excellent, albeit pricey buy


Motor News star rating

Design * * * * *

Performance * * * *

Economy * * * *

Ride/handling * * * *

Safety * * * *

Value for money * * *

Overall * * * *

Competition

Ford Fiesta 1.0T Titanium, 74kW/170Nm — R314,400

Honda Jazz 1.2 Comfort, 66kW/110Nm — R258,500

Mazda2 1.5 Dynamic, 82kW/145Nm — R247,600

Renault Clio Turbo Dynamique, 66kW/140Nm — R264,900

Hyundai i20 1.4 Fluid, 74kW/133Nm — R283,900

Kia Rio hatch 1.4 Tec, 74kW/135Nm — R304,995

Opel Corsa Enjoy 120Y 1.0 T, 66kW/170Nm — R267,720

Peugeot 208 GT Line 1.2 PureTech Turbo Manual, 81kW/205Nm — R276,900

Toyota Yaris 1.5 S, 79kW/140Nm — R305,800


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