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The new and improved Nissan Micra


It might be getting a bit long in the tooth overseas, but Nissan Australia reckons it can put a new spin on the mini Micra.

The wee hatch has been on sale in Europe for five years, but Nissan hopes its bug-eyed looks, cheeky rear end and compact dimensions will generate keen interest in the hotly contested light car segment.

But it will need to be good. It must square up against the Honda Jazz, Hyundai Getz, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta and popular Suzuki Swift when it arrives in November.

For Australia, Nissan plans to keep the Micra line-up simple, with a 1.4-litre, five-door, four-speed auto-only hatch.

Though European Micras are available with a 1.2-litre petrol or 1.5-litre dCi diesel, Nissan Australia general manager of marketing Ross Booth says he plans to stick to one engine, the petrol 1.4-litre.

It delivers 65kW at 5200rpm and 128Nm at 3200rpm. Though it does require premium unleaded, the auto Micra delivers 5.6litres/100km in the combined European cycle.

Final pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed, but Mr Booth is confident it will hit local showrooms for about $16,000.

Nissan briefly flirted with the mini-Micra from 1995-1997, but exchange rates forced it from the market. The new one is just as funky and good-looking, and Nissan hopes will bring a quality feel to the entry segment.

The five-door weighs 985kg, making it a perky city runabout. Despite its relatively light weight, it got a commendable four-star European crash test result in 2003.

Inside, the cabin has a European flair, with high-quality trim.