We just had the chance to test-drive the new Nissan Micra DIG-S in Germany, a car whose main objective is to be as green and affordable as possible. DIG-S stands for Direct Injection Gasoline Supercharged, which in this case is it’s a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre petrol engine, 98 hp, with CO2 emissions of 99 g/km. And thanks to these CO2 levels, this Micra was awarded a Pure Drive badge - which can be obtained only when a vehicle can prove to be eco-friendly by featuring emissions lower than 130 g/km (to be reduced to 120 g/km in 2013/14).
Talking about the interiors, the overhall quality is very good: comfortable seats, quality plastics, pleasant colors’ combination. Visibility is also extremely good and the panoramic sunroof helps a lot in reduced-light situations. Other features include an audio system with USB and AUX plug as well as an outstanding navigation system with an easy-to-use interface and an handy manual switch that enables the zoom.
The Downsizing Factor
Despite a reduction in its capacity, the DIG-S has managed to become a more powerful engine, improving its performance by minimising energy waste. Compared to a four-cylinder, this motor has in fact demonstrated better termic efficiency, which has caused a 20% reduction in friction levels.
Low friction techniques and technologies designed to maximise fuel efficiency include delayed reaction times for the suction valve’s shutting mechanism thanks to the Miller combustion cycle, honeycomb-configured springs and a nano-finish camshaft. The high tumble piston rings and the valve lifters are diamond-like carbon coated while a higher compression ratio has enabled an increased mechanic energy’s extraction.
Fuel consumption levels are set to 4.4 l/ 100 km, which translates into a remarkable 5% improvement. The start/stop system implemented on the whole range as well as the alternator’s ability to charge the battery only when necessary have helped keeping those numbers down. There also is an exhaust gas re-circulation system for improved combustion and according to Nissan, thanks to these new tricks, this is the first time a petrol engine has managed to be both cheaper and more efficient than a diesel one.
The Test Drive
Until few years ago, three-cylinder meant vibrations. With Micra DIG-S, on the other hand, we could hardly tell the difference with a four-cylinder and we can definitely say that the problem has been fully addressed and resolved. At traffic lights, the start/stop system workes promptly and didn’t let us down. Once on the road although we would have appreciated a little more attitude, this vehicle behaved very well in traffic.
Agile, zippy, responsive: the Micra DIG-S seems to be perfect for urban environments. It has good road-holding, adequate brakes and a reduced steering diameter which allows to take U turns in very restricted spaces. Visibility is outstanding on the road as well as when parking, and in this regard the Simple Parking Pack system helps to establish the space needed for manoeuvres.
When driving at higher speeds on the highway, the vehicle was not as silent as we expected, although we have to take into account that a strong wind was blowing at the time. We couldn’t go the full 180 km/h maximum speed but it seemed well within reach. We had to stick to the 130/140 km/h mark, which was easy to hit and easy to mantain, with the cruise control automatically setting the speed (but it can be easily switched off by braking a little).
Nissan Micra DIG-S Standard Key Features
Nissan Micra comes in three models: Visia, Acenta and Tekna.
Front, side and curtain airbags
Speed sensitive automatic door locking
Manual air conditioning
Remote central locking
- as Visia, plus:
Height adjustable driver’s seat
Leather covered steering wheel
CD Player with Aux-in
15 inch wheels
-as Acenta, plus:
Front fog lamps
15 inch alloy wheels
Nissan Connect with five inch colour screen and fully integrated satellite navigation
Trip computer with ‘CO2 saved’ feature
Automatic headlights and wipers
Parking Slot Measurement system