back to article Nissan Micra DIG-S

Nissan’s fourth-generation Micra didn’t make much of a splash when it launched in the UK last year thanks to the absence of headline-grabbing technical advances. The forgettable styling didn't help, Nissan abandoning the idiosyncratic look of the previous model in favour of something that looked decidedly plain alongside its …

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  1. Marvin the Martian
    Devil

    Why?!

    Just, why?

    1. GitMeMyShootinIrons
      Joke

      Why?

      For the little lady in doors to do the shopping and go and get her nails done in.

      (Condescending sexist remark of the day).

    2. Some Beggar
      Devil

      Is this really the right venue for you to express your existential angst?

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      Hehe

      The look on the face of that cretin behind the wheel of the "erectile disfunction compensator" which was toying with the accelerator behind you at the traffic lights - priceless. For everything else there is MasterCard.

      Seriously, a lot of people enjoy driving a wolf in sheep clothing. Me included. It is something nobody will key in a parking lot just because it looks sporty and nobody will try to break in. It is economical, has low insurance and at the same when you need so (or when you feel so) can be driven in a manner which will give M3 drivers complexes of inferiority (especially in a city).

    4. Marvin the Martian
      Stop

      I didn't mean why this (type of) car or so.

      I meant, "Why oh why a car review?". On an IT site.

      It's arguably hardware, but one review means nothing without a comparison set --- "Is 70% good or bad? Is 180pounds heavy or not? Where does the reviewer stand anyway?". For example, a bad review by Jeremy Clarkson may mean it's a reasonably priced and efficient vehicle instead of an ED/CD (erectile dysfunction compensator device), or it may actually be a bad car.

      1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: I didn't mean why this (type of) car or so.

        Cars are gaining more and more technology, and the fundamentals of car technology itself are changing.

        We think that's interesting and, judging by the reader reaction to our car reviews, many of you folk do too.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "On a couple of occasions while hustling around the Peak District, the eager engine encouraged me to charge into corners with rather too much vim only to run out of poise and grip at the vital moment."

    Slow-In, fast-out you silly boy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Devil

      Fun

      I had one of the older Micra's before this one came out as a hire car.

      It actually really surprised me by how much fun it was.

      The Micra felt like a bumper car on steroids. I hope they've not lost that in this new generation.

      Although new Festas, Corsa etc are very much more refined they really have lost all sense of fun to drive. The economy wasn't bad either Even that one easily achieved 50mpg, where the fords/vauxhalls achieve 40 at best.

      I just wish they'd produced a more manly version! (Definitely nothing with a Reno badge on it)...

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge
        Devil

        You most likely had the 1.3 or 1.4 version

        You probably had the 1.3 or even 1.4 version, not the 1.0 16v sewing machine.

        The 1.3 and the 1.4 versions of the old Micra (not the bubble, but the 1990-es model) were a classic wolf in sheep clothing - around 9s 0-60 and sub 4s on 0-30 combined with nice stiff suspension, good cornering and good grip. Definitely lots of fun to drive. One of my colleagues had one of those and I remember her passing me while I was doing 70mph as if I was stationary on the way to work :) That thing went like the clappers.

        Still, IMO, these Micras were not as nuts as a Daihatsu Sirion Rally2/Rally4 with its sub-8s 0-60. That was the peak of the SuperMini class evolution - 107bph non turbocharged engine in a 800kg car with factory stiffened suspension. Go cart with a jet engine. From there on it all went downhill.

      2. Grease Monkey

        The old model Micra was a fine and fun little car, but then you have to remember that the Clio that came out a couple of years later was essentially the same car. Which tells you a lot about the supposedly objective and impartial motoring press. The Micra got reasonable write ups which teated it as a rather dull but practical shopping car. Even the cooking model Clio's got shining writeups that treated it like it was the original Mini Cooper. Which goes to show that motoring journalists, like most other people, have trouble seeing past the badge.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Renault ?

    "so I think I’ll wait until the folk at Nissan’s sister company, Renault, get hold of the DIG-S motor and stick it in the altogether more amusing Twingo"

    So you want your new car to be in the local dealership more often than it's in your posession ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yeah. One of life's little rules: never buy a French car.

    2. Insane Reindeer
      Stop

      Built to last...

      .... In the Arctic regions of Finland, as our Renault and countless others around this area will attest to! In fact if it isn't a Toyota it's a Renault. With a handful of big Volvo estates thrown in for good measure!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've owned one Renault, two Citroens and a Pug. Every single one of them spent half it's life in the shop. Reliable those French cars. Probably why Renault tend to spend most of their time putting funny bodies on Nissan platforms these days.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge
      Devil

      You do not need a Renault for that

      Quote: "So you want your new car to be in the local dealership more often than it's in your posession ?"

      For that you need a diesel Honda, not a Renault.

      57 days in less than 2 years before I got rid of it... Leaks from all holes on one side of the engine, duff alternator, charging faults, exhaust fumes going into the cockpit - you name it.

      On top of that, because "Honda is reliable", when you ask for a courtesy car you get a " you do not deserve one" answer.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          A diesel Honda civic may be reliable, but as a colleague of mine will grumpilly tell you when they do break they cost an absolute fortune to fix. Not only did it cost a fortune to fix, but the dealer had to wait an age for the part because there were none in the country, so being out of warranty the car was off the road for that time.

          Even if the break rarely they still break, there's no such thing as a 100% reliable car. What you want then is a backup system that will get your car back on the road quickly.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Top stuff

    The wife's after one of these to replace her Mk. 1 Yaris, we took a demonstrator for a spin at our local Nissan dealer last week and I'd agree with the review entirely - blinding little engine, easy as pee to drive but rather dull. But we aren't looking for excitement from the families second car so we placed our order yesterday!

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  6. TeeCee Gold badge

    Miller Cycle.

    A Miller cycle engine is basically a blown Atkinson cycle one and the supercharger is inherent in the term.

    Attach a blower to a Miller cycle engine and you'd have two of 'em.......

    1. Grease Monkey

      That's not strictly true is it?

      The engines you desribe as Atkinson cycle are not true Atkinson cycle engines. The true Atkinson cycle never really worked well and was really invented as a way to avoid breaching the patent on the Otto cycle engine. The engines that are called Atkinsons these days were, I believe, effectively derived from Miller cycle engines with the super charger removed.

      Sp you're right in saying that all Miller cycle engines have some form of supercharger, but that doesn't make them Atkinsons with an added supercharger.

      The reason that the Miller cycle engine seems to be undergoing a resurgence is that mechanically driven supercharger design has taken leaps forward of late and superchargers themselves are much more efficient than even a few years ago. The result being that the efficiency and performance of the Miller cycle engine has also improved.

      Bear in mind however that the Nissan's engine is a long way from being a converntional Miller cycle engine.

  7. Dan Price
    WTF?

    A title is no longer required.

    Sounds like a nice little engine - it's just a shame that the car looks so damned uninspiring. And what the hell were they thinking with that horrific interior?

  8. Nev Silver badge

    Missing the line...

    "The Nissan Micra DIG-S is a bitch. And I spanked it."

    1. Shades
      Thumb Up

      I was thinking...

      ...the exact same thing while I was reading the review!

  9. Chz
    Thumb Down

    The Opposite

    The old Micra handled considerably better than it let on, so this is somewhat of a disappointment. I think that the old car was probably better in many ways (my wife loves the styling and my opinion doesn't count there), but this new engine is admittedly truly impressive.

    1. Grease Monkey

      As to the styling, we had one of the first one's in the country. It was distracting to have people taking photographs on their camera phones while driving. People forget quite how innovative it was back in 2003, particularly as so many companies have copied elements of the styling since.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > the Chris Martin of superminis.

    Boring, overrated, totally generic and makes an irritating whining noise?

    1. dogged
      Thumb Up

      You forgot "bland and derivative" but I'm putting that down to having forgotten him already.

      1. Grease Monkey

        You also forgot to mention that when performing Martin thrashes about on stage as if he was playing thrash metal when in reality he's playing the blandest thing since eighties lift muzak. What's the motoring equivalent of that?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Efficiency all trumpet but no figures? What did YOU achieve on your haring around the peaks? IT might be capable of being an econobox under certain conditions but when the foot is down just how economical is it? usually a super charger (injects more air) is used because you want to inject more petrol into each stoke, to up the power which is all well and good for headline 1.2L figures but how much more petrol does it use? I'm not convinced this is economical at all..

    0-60 in 11 is good for a 1.2 but probably won't fool many into thinking it's 1.5! now a 1.4 maybe.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Haha

    Like the "Buy from Amazon" button! I won't though.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lack of knowledge

    Slow in fast out is for RWD drive cars! (and a number of French favourites, 205, Saxo VTS, 306 GTi-6). Where if you go too fast into a corner you'll come out of the corner still going fast but backwards.

    Small FWD cars are typically fast in, fast out! ;-)

    Think classic mini Cooper. BMW right up your playmini on the straights then it appears to stop dead in time when in a corner.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Conversly

      Driving a small fast RWD car can be very unsettling for a FWD car trying to follow, as their braking areas are different.

      Stuff FWD hatches, Chrysler/Talbot knew how to build a hot hatch, 2 models in fact.

      1. Grease Monkey

        But as a visit to any hillclimb event will testify a small FWD car is generally quicker up a twisty course than an equivalent RWD model.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I'd have thought...

    ... that this review should have been placed in the "Hardware - Mobile" section!

  15. MJI Silver badge

    Engines going fewer cylinders

    Seems like a lot more 1/2 engine and 1/3 engines around now.

    Last time I drove a triple it was slow, not smooth and felt like there were cylinders missing.

    Can't they achieve this economy with a normal nuber of cylinders, like the very common 2/3rds engine.

    1. annodomini2

      Fewer cylinders = Fewer parts = Cheaper to make

      Because they've come up with algorithms to dynamically balance an engine without needing balancer shafts, they're cheaper to make.

      Also if they can share more parts this saves on tooling costs.

      e.g. 1.2 3cylinder and 1.6 4 cylinder, same pistons, rods and associated components.

      In automotive, if they can save 10p per car on 500,000 cars they will try to.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Seen similar attempts

        large numbers of parts the same between at least 3 inline 4s and 4 V6s, but not pistons. But all have same valves

        1. Grease Monkey

          Since small cylinders are generally more efficient it seems curious that economy cars these days actually have larger cylinders by dint of having fewer of them for the same capacity.

  16. Mark #255

    three cylinders

    I've got a Suzuki Splash with a three-cylinder (1.0L, normally aspirated) engine. The only niggle I have* is that at idle, the vibrations tend towards "unsettling", when compared to four-cylinders (which are a major fourth higher in pitch for the same speed, and probably smoother).

    Did the Micra suffer from this, or did the on-off thingy stop it happening?

    * You could complain that it's underpowered, or that it sounds like a demented sewing machine when you thrash it, but they're not really valid - it's a cheap, small and economical engine.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      3 cylinder Suzuki

      Hmm 750 2 stroke triple

    2. Grease Monkey

      The vibrations made by a multi cylinder engine are inherent in it's design, not in the number of cylinders. Funilly enough an inline four cylinder engine is not actually particularly well balanced.

      There are two basic ways to make a triple (if we ignore odd things like V3's) one is to have a 180 degree crank shaft, the other is to have a 120 degree crankshaft. Usually a 180 degree crankshaft has pistons 1 and 3 at TDC while 2 is at BDC. This means that the vertical movement of the two pistons is not balanced by the other. This is poor primary balance in the vertical. Try to correct it with weighted crank webs and you have poor balance in the horizontal. Such an engine is hard to balance and manufacturers will often throw in a balance shaft to try to counter the inherent shakes. Four cylinder engines tend to have 1 and 4 at TDC while 2 and 3 are at BDC. This means the pistons vertical accelerations balance each other out. You will notice however that the longtiudinal seperation between the pistons along the crank means you have a rocking couple that is trying to bend the whole engine in the middle.

      A smoother three cylinder engine has a 120 degree crank where the crank pins are seperated evenly spaced. This is a much smoother engine as the pistons motions balance each other out. You will notice in the cutaway picture of the engine that number 1 is at BDC, number 3 is at TDC and number two is in the middle of a stroke. It's a 120 degree crank.

      The 180 degree engine is cheaper to manufacture. Partly because it's more like a four cylinder engine so things like crank and camshafts are easier to tool for. And partly because ignition and injection systems are easier to setup build. For example you can use the good old wasted spark system between 1 and 3. Try that on a 120 degree crank and you'd be in trouble.

  17. Jim 59

    Good

    Looks nice and the built in satnav, trip computer etc is good at that price. What a shame Britain gave up on the car industry becuase it was too hard.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper
      Facepalm

      Britain didn't actually give up on the car industry. There are still an awful lot of cars designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, but we did sell it all off to foreign ownership. Except for Morgan, of course, and Metrocab, but that needn't trouble us now.

      ('D'oh icon for the short-sightedness of the failure to invest in the UK car industry, rather than Jim LIX).

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge
        Happy

        And don't forget Ariel motor too.

        Still lusting after one, but the closest I got was a few laps around Prodrive in Kenilworth :D

        I'd include a link, but all you'd see is a crappy blank screen and the icon for present in nice wrapping paper with a bow.

        1. Grease Monkey

          Ariel* make toys for rich people. They're very nice but you can't build a large manufacturing industry on that. Furthermore many of the components are bought in from foreign plants. Where do Aeriel get their engines again? And how much do they charge for their impractical cars? Peronally I'd rather have a fleet of bikes than one of their 30 grand cars. And as for the one that costs five times as much. Eh?

          At least some of the foreign owned plants over here are manufacturing a lot more than just a chassis with a whole load of bought in parts bolted on.

          * Along with Caterham, Morgan, Ginetta, Noble, et al.

      2. Throatwobbler Mangrove
        Facepalm

        " but we did sell it all off to foreign ownership"

        And since the British government stopped trying to build cars, the cars that have been built in Britain have never been better and the industry is efficient and healthy.

    2. annodomini2

      The micra is built here

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The previous micra was, this one is built in India apparantly

    3. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Unions

      Unions and a general apathy towards quality didn't help.

  18. Lottie

    looks

    I like the concept, but for me the key to a super mini is its looks. The micra has always been iconic in the way it presented itself. The Mk1 was cool, the Mk2 looked like a bubble and was rather cheeky. Mk3 was less so, but still looked neat. This looks like a cross between a Tata and a reanult.

    Mind you, the same can be said for the whole segment I guess. Just look at how inoriginal the new Ka is.

  19. annodomini2
    FAIL

    No

    This thing is FUGLY!

    Hence why Top gear gave it 7/20

    Secondly, unless they've got the weight down by a couple of hundred kilos over the old model, it's still too heavy.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      LOL

      Top Gear would give it a low score as it's not a £200,000 supercar.

      We don't all have money to burn.

      1. annodomini2

        No, they specifically state, "because it's ugly!"

        However, I do agree with your point, that they don't factor in cost properly.

        When this car's main competitor is the Fiat 500 Twinair and all things being equal, you'd pick the fiat looks-wise over this any day.

        1. Grease Monkey

          However I forgot to mention that I have never, ever bought a car for it's looks. I've never even been slightly influenced by the looks of a car. Why would you care what a car looks like? I simply don't get what bearing that has on anything that's important.

        2. Grease Monkey

          The Micra isn't ugly, it's just bland. You could easilly lose it in a car park because it looks like so many other small cars on the market today.

          The Fiat OTOH does look crap. Just like the new Beetle and Mini the styling is a total mess because they tried to make it look like an original 500, but modern with it. As such it looks like a kit car.

  20. Ed
    Go

    I used to know someone who lived in Victoria Grove Mews (where the second and third picrtures were taken) :)

  21. Shaun Sheppard

    Built in india

    Isn't the new micra built in the india now?

  22. Alan Edwards
    Happy

    Micras

    Enduring memory of a Micra...

    A 1.0l, probably 2nd gen. Going up the long dual-carriageway hill after joining the A420 from the A34 at Oxford. Foot to the floor in 4th and it was actually slowing down. Underpowered piece of junk, hire company told me it was a 1.2.

    I agree about the 5 cylinder 2.0l FIAT engine too. I drove a Marea with the non-turbo version, great sounding engine, went like stink too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Doing it wrong.

      I've got a K11C (2002) Micra, and I can say with some authority that it pulls pretty nicely at 75mph in third. As quite a few dawdlers have found out as I've blown past them on A-roads. They don't tend to expect a granny-chariot to be going quicker than them, and don't tend to like it up 'em.

      You should have dropped another cog and let it breathe a bit. After all, if they wanted you to use fourth uphill at road speeds, they'd have made it more torquey, wouldn't they?

      That engine just loves to rev. I rarely end up using fourth and fifth unless I'm actually cruising in traffic or in town, any other time on the open road it's an excuse to tank it up to the rev limiter in third. Other than the reasonable build, it's about the only thing the car has going for it, mind.

      Must start looking at Pumas in anger...be nice to have a car with a chassis again.

      Anon, because I don't like admitting that I thrash a Micra for fun.

      1. Mark #255
        Happy

        Re: doing it wrong

        Absolutely agree.

        We had a 1999 Micra, 1L, and it would happily do 130 km/h (~80 mph) on the French autoroutes, even with a boot full of wine (40 bottles) and the back seat full of the rest of our luggage.

        I shudder to think of the economy, but hey - petrol was about half the price it is today.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Doing it wrong v3.0

          If you're climbing and the car is slowing down then you change down. Who taught you to drive? It never ceases to amaze me how many people climb big hills in too high a gear and just get slower and slower and slower until they are forced to drop two or three gears to keep going.

          Also the old K11 1.0L was a sight more powerful and had a lot more toque than a lot of other cars with 1 litre engines at the time. I've driven cars with a lot less oomph than a Micra and still managed to climb big hills (I live on the edge of the Peak District) at 60mph. Even my old 850 Mini could pull most big hills at 55mph or more and that had a rip snorting 34bhp when new and probably a whole lot less by the time I got my hands on it. And of course only four gears and a box that actively discourage you from changing gear by being so sloppy.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      20v love

      Sorry, just an addition to point out that a mate had a Fiat Coupe 20v Turbo LE - one of the last ones with the six speed box and overboooooost.

      That was an amazing engine, especially when you hit overboost in third, lit up the front tyres and held on for dear life as the car started scrabbling all over the place.

      It was a bloody nice engine when you weren't thrashing it, too, with the exception of the £600+ clutch changes and the quite staggering thirst.

      The K11C Anon...

  23. Lloyd
    Stop

    Does it come with

    a plastic body kit? Spoiler? Baked Bean tin exhaust? Racing Stripes? No, I thought they were pre-requisites for Micra's nowadays, at least most of the one's I see have them.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We have much different definition of 'hot hatch'

    Here in the states a car has to be at least a Foxbody Mustang with an LS1 swap or a K series Civic with forced induction to qualify as 'hot'

    Of course our idea of good economy is 20 mpg but hey gas is cheaper here

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Key point being missing, "Hatch"

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatchback

      1. Grease Monkey

        Missing the point. A hot hatch isn't necessarilly a blazingly fast car. It's just a breathed on version of the standard car. Some of the top end fast hatchbacks are so fast they don't really work as a hot hatch. A lot of traditional the traditional hot hatch driving always been about being quick around town. The sill 300bhp 30 grand hot hatches just can't be driven like that.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nissan have greatly improved their engine technology and mechanical build quality in recent years.

    Now all they have to do is figure out a way to spray every panel the same shade of colour and without their trademark orange-peel effect. Seriously, their paintwork is appalling, even on flagship models like the GTR.

  26. moonoi
    Meh

    I have one

    but without the supercharger and with a CVT "automatic" and it returns around 65mpg and the 0-60 is around 10secs.

    So what exactly is the supercharger needed for? I live in Thailand and the Micra (or March as it is known locally here) seems to be a better car than the European model. Its also manufactured here in Thailand too.

    It doesn't have a anti roll bar, which makes high speed cornering entertaining though, it's not only motorcyclists that can get their knee down....... :-)

  27. John 62
    Happy

    get the NISMO branding out!

    looks better than the previous gen Micra. But despite the name, isn't the Micra huge compared to the 500 and the Twingo? No wonder they'd be fun to drive.

    The latest 308 finally looks OK, but I think I'd rather have a 207, cos I think the 308 is bigger than a 405.

  28. Jemma Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The poor thing, what did they do to it?!

    Im not entirely a fan of the Micra, having driven one of the bug-eye variety with the manual (yes I really do have a clutch, even if you cant tell its there) variety - but at least it was something different, something with a little bit of appeal to it over and above the euroshoebox norm.

    This is just arrgh-some - it looks like a the result of a Fiat Punto doing something illegal to a Fiesta.

    I've no real complaints with a three-banger, bearing in mind that I am of an engineering bent and know these can be made to be both smooth and quick (witness the 890cc Suzuki turbo that with a little massaging can manage 200hp) but ack on the blandness of it.

    Nissan, please come up with something a little more special on the bodywork front. The last micra was something special and something different - this is worthy of the old TR7 styling comment "Oh my God, they did it on both sides..."

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