It's the four-generation Micra, which will continue as Nissan's price leader in Australia when it arrives just before the end of this year with an objective to triple sales.
The new Micra is built on an all-new mechanical platform codenamed V and Nissan's global chief, Carlos Ghosn, says it has been designed to be built in low-cost countries including India, Thailand, China and Mexico as he sets the million-a-year target for 2013. In Australia, Nissan believes the lighter, safer, cheaper new Micra — built in Thailand — will play a key role.
“It is the key driver for us as part of our five-year growth plan, which ends in 2012,” says Nissan Australia's CEO, Dan Thompson. “The first part of the plan was brand building. Now, with the launch of Micra, we move into the growth part of the plan.”
The next all-new model for Nissan Australia is the Tiida replacement — perhaps with a return to a Pulsar badge — by 2012, which Thompson says is ‘the second biggest car for us when it comes to volume’. In Australia the existing auto-only Micra has been a struggle for the brand, with sales only accelerating recently.
“With the current generation of the Micra we are only playing in a small sliver of the light car segment. Typically we’re doing 400 or 500 a month but we expect to triple the sales volume for the new car," Thompson says. He will not reveal new Micra pricing but says the car will be “extremely competitive” against other starting-price light cars from Japan and South Korea.
But Nissan has slashed the cost out of the car, which uses 18 per cent fewer components than that old car. Its dashboard assembly is made up of 28 parts instead of more than 50 found on the old model. Thompson says Nissan's all new V-platform can support other models, including a Micra sedan. “It offers us a lot of flexibility. But at this stage the number one priority is the hatch, which is 90 per cent of the segment," he says.
In Europe, the Micra launch car gets a 59kW/108Nm 1.2-litre three cylinder engine with a continuously variable transmission or five-speed manual. A 72kW/142Nm 1.2-litre supercharged and direct injection version with stop-start technology and CO2 emissions of just 95g/km will be added later this year. Thompson will not be drawn on engines for Australia. “There will multiple engine options, grades and trim levels,” he says.
The new Micra is a design evolution of the current car, with a rounded shape and accented waistline that mimic the car still in showrooms. But the body is stronger, there is more interior room and Nissan says quality has dramatically improved.
Boomerang-shaped grooves on the roof aren’t just for looks either. They are designed to reduce resonance in the cabin, making it quieter.