2014 Nissan Micra. Click image to enlarge
Originally published January 3rd, 2014
Preview and photos by Lesley Wimbush
MONTREAL, Quebec – Many automakers have tried, with limited success, to capture the interest of youthful buyers. It’s a segment that is currently proving to be elusive despite their best efforts, but Nissan is banking on its re-introduction of a familiar nameplate to woo first-time Canadian buyers.
Introduced in Montreal just prior to the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the Micra was joined on-stage for a champagne toast by Nissan Canada President, Christian Meunier, who said, “Micra will provide Canadians with the unbeatable value, Japanese quality and European bold styling and fun driving experience that they deserve in a small car”.
Previously sold here from 1984-1991, the Micra returns to Canada this spring after a 21-year hiatus. It slots in beneath the Versa Note, and size-wise, will compete with the Mitsubishi Mirage, Hyundai Accent and Chevrolet Spark.
It may have been absent from our market for the last two decades, but the Micra has continued to sell in Europe and is available in 160 (161 including Canada) countries worldwide.
Nissan’s pretty confident that the subcompact Micra will resonate with Canadians, since they’ve made the unusual decision to exclude the U.S. from its North American launch. Generally, the much larger U.S. market plays a big part in determining which models are released on this continent, but Americans have never really warmed to small hatchbacks the way we have.
Meunier hinted that the Micra would have a “significantly lower MSRP than the Versa Note’s $13,348″ – but it remains to be seen whether it will beat out the Versa sedan’s base $11,898 to become the company’s least expensive car.
Nissan may not be ready to release exact pricing details, but Meunier said the Micra’s ace-in-the-hole will be its attractive payment options through Nissan Finance – placing it within reach of first-time buyers and those who otherwise would never be able to afford a car.
Nissan currently has a twenty-percent share of the small-car market thanks to the Versa, and they’re hoping to reach thirty percent with the addition of the Micra.
Will the Micra will receive the Nismo treatment to compete with Ford’s Fiesta ST hot hatch? Meunier’s response is an enigmatic smile” Never say never”.
There is a Japanese market Nismo version, but it’s an appearance package only – all show and no go.
Although the Micra rides on the same V platform as the Versa Note, its shorter wheelbase suggests it will perform well as a city car. It’s propelled by the same 109-horsepower 1.6L found in the Versa Note, with either a five-speed manual, or four-speed automatic transmission. There will be three trim levels: S, SV and the range-topping SR which boasts 16-inch machined alloy wheels, side skirts and a jaunty rear spoiler. There are no details available for content features, although the interior is very similar to the Versa, with split folding rear seats.
Tim Franklin, Nissan Canada’s senior manager of product planning, is quick to point out the differences between this Micra and the European-spec vehicles.
“The Canadian model is the only Micra in the world that receives front and rear sway bars, rear heater ducts and heated side mirrors” he said. Canadian cars will also be tuned to have quicker steering ratios. Over 20,000 km of cold weather testing has been logged on pre-production cars on our Canadian roads.
The Micra will be built in Aguascalientes, Mexico and has a projected release date of this April.