The main point I want to get across about the Nissan Micra Acenta Plus Tech – is that there is something uber special about this car: both peculiar and distinct. Perhaps the proverbial Clark Kent incognito Superman; that there is more to this car than meets the eye; never judge a book by its cover -or- dynamite comes in small packages – stereotypes quintessential of the new Nissan Micra Acenta Plus Tech. However, this is not Nissan’s first attempt at an audacious supermini-hatchback – there was another before it. In Japan it was called the March Super Turbo which was regarded as the original moniker to that of the European Micra Super Turbo albeit a slight difference in aesthetics.
Nissan introduced the Micra/March Super Turbo Limited Edition in 1988 – not sold in South Africa. The March was a fine-tuned homologation and an engineering marvel, powered by a Twincharged, (a Supercharged/Turbocharged combination set-up), 81kW, 930cc, i4, engine, that featured either a 3-speed automatic or 5-speed manual gearbox. Much like the current Micra Acenta Plus Tech: the March was a giant slayer of its day and remains the fastest production Micra in Nissan’s history.
But not the fastest selling…and neither is the Micra Acenta Plus Tech…compared to its cousin the Renault Clio Dynamique, whom it shares the same platform and drivetrain – the Clio is bigger, cheaper and it comes standard with Sat-nav. With the Acenta Plus Tech’s price tag of R305 990 – how can Nissan not include Satellite Navigation? Perhaps, next to the 360° aerial camera view system with front-end-view/reverse-camera, moving object detection, front-and-rear PDC, blind-spot monitoring and forward emergency braking – the absence of Sat-nav is forgivable. In reference to its GT-R aesthetics, according to Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s C.C.O and Senior V.P of Design, the intention of the fifth generation Micra Acenta is to become the centre of Nissan’s design language. Mr Nakamura also said, “use to be GTR and Micra, is people think, oh completely different! The one is like a brutal design and the Micra is rather feminine and cute design, but now, we put the two cars side-by-side, you can see there’s some connection of D.N.A.” Likewise, when I drove it at Gerotek, around both the dynamic handling track and the high-speed oval – I kept thinking to myself – “this little car is going to be a GT-R when it grows up” except without the GT-R’s addiction for high-octane fuel. At 5.4l/100km – my personal best – the Micra Acenta is remarkably light on petrol. But there is more great news, the Micra Acenta is not limited to 170km/h, “I’m sure that’s a typo on the brochure,” it is much faster. Of which I have a theory. You see, I suspect Nissan have used a form of Japanese shape-shifting ritual mysticism: that the 66kW, 898cc, i3, turbocharged engine, is actually a V6 engine in disguise. Okay, we all know that’s impossible, but with only a 5-speed manual gearbox and 140nm of torque – the Micra Acenta Plus Tech punches way above its 1530GVW weight class. The handling track at Gerotek only revealed the Micra Acenta’s hidden talents, along with impressive levels of lateral grip and cornering stability. Dead-centre steering vagueness is noticeable, but off-set by supple car controls, (clutch, brake, accelerator-pedal), and a delectable throttle-response – it’s just a matter of point and shoot for the corner exit. Balancing the car’s load-transfer to attain neutral steer attitude through a turn is another astonishing dynamic of the Micra Acenta while any front-end push is curtailed by Intelligent Chassis-control: a vehicle dynamic stability system comprised of Active Ride-control, Active Engine-control and Active Trace-control. Both Intelligent Chassis and Trace-control can be deactivated/reactivated via the steering-wheel controls, and viewed in high-definition on the 5” TFT Advanced Driver-Assist Display. Excluding the Visia, all Acenta models boast a 7” media infotainment touchscreen, with voice-command and Bluetooth hands-free cellphone connectivity.
Cabin architecture is impressive, adroit with versatile ergonomics, and zero-gravity inspired cars seats: technology developed by NASA adopted by Nissan. Better known as Neutral Body Posture, or NBP for short, eliminates driver fatigue, provides maximum comfort, safety and control. Being a supermini hatchback, the rear-seats are better suited for small children – but with six airbags and a 5Star EuroNCAP safety rating – the new Nissan Micra Acenta Plus Tech is one of the safest cars in the world for children. H.S.A, VDC, ABS/EBD with Brake-assist and Cruise-control are standard across the Micra range.
We have to break-out of our perceptual prison and stop being manipulated into thinking that a car is a car based on its price: judge the Micra Acenta Plus Tech purely on that notion and you will miss the essence of what makes this car so unique.
Written by Dean Joseph