The Nissan Micra
People often ask 'Why do you drive a Nissan Micra?' Good question really... I've always been into cars, I'm definitely a petrolhead and I don't like paying garages money for jobs I think I'm capable of doing myself. I don't have loads of spare money to buy a prestige car, I need my car to be fairly small because of where I park it, reliable because I do a lot of mileage and I like to mod my cars - the Nissan Micra fits the bill !
The Micra K10 (1982-1992): The original Micra, the K10, was introduced in 1982 by Nissan as a competitor to Honda's successful 'City' model. It arrived in Britain in 1983 and Canada in 1984. For the first two years it was badged as the Datsun Micra although this ceased at the end of 1994. The K10 was facelifted in 1985 getting slightly larger rear light clusters. In 1988, Nissan launched a limited 10,000 car run of its 1989 March Superturbo. This, and the 1988 March R, featured the same highly advanced sequential compound charged (supercharger plus turbocharger) engine in an aluminium straight four 930 cc 8-valve 4-cylinder Nissan MA MA09ERT unit that produced 108 hp at 6400 rpm. This car came with either a 3 speed automatic or 5 speed manual gearbox with viscous LSD, as well as options such as air con and electric mirrors. The March Superturbo still holds the crown for the fastest production March in Nissan's history, with a 0-62mph time of 7.7 seconds and 15.5 seconds for the quarter mile. It has a top speed of 112 mph. The Micra proved a popular and reliable small car and sold well until production stopped in December 1992.
The Micra K11 (1992-1997): The K10s successor, the K11 was launched in Japan in early 1992 and released in Europe later in the year. The Micra was the second model after the Primera built at Nissan's NMUK plant in Washington, Tyne and Wear. It was powered by brand new all-aluminium 1.0L (CG10DE) and 1.3L (CG13DE) DOHC 16 valve engines with 54 hp and 75 bhp respectively. Power steering was an option on some models and the equipment list included security features not usually available in this market segment: a toughened safety-cage and side-impact door beams were standard and pre-tensioning seat belts and a driver's air bag were optional. However, the MK2 Micra scored only a modest two stars in Euro NCAP testing in 1997. Airbags, antilock brakes, electric windows, central locking and air conditioning were available as options on some of the K11 range as it developed in its life cycle. The car soon won the European Car of the Year award for 1993 (the first Japanese car to do so) and the Good Design Award (a Trade and Industry Design award in Japan) along with the Car of the Year Japan award in 1993. After minor changes in 1996, in 1998, six years after its launch, the K11 was facelifted which saw the whole range get power steering as standard.
The Micra K11C (1997-2003): In late 1997, a facelift version of the K11 was introduced. This model was built from late 1997 to early 2003. The cumulative visual changes from the original model included a revised front grille and larger headlights, redesigned front and rear bumpers, oval side repeaters, minor changes to internal controls, slightly desaturated colours on the rear light lenses, a redesigned rear wiper which rests horizontally instead of vertically, the centre high level brake lamp being reduced in size and mounted at the top of the rear window instead of on the parcel shelf, and a radio aerial repositioned from the top of the right-hand A-pillar to the middle of the roof towards the back. In late 2000, the original facelift was replaced by a second facelift version, technically being quite similar. Changes on the second facelift included new lights added on the bumper, the lower-body of the car was changed, front side lights were coloured orange instead of clear and a major redesign of the interior. The K11C was fully replaced by the K12 in early 2003. Before I bought the K12 160SR I now drive, I had a 1.4 K11 'S' for 5 years that provided 107,000 miles of completely trouble-free motoring.
The Micra K12 (2003-2010): The next version of the Micra, the K12, was unveiled at the 2002 Paris Motor Show as the Nissan mm Concept. It was introduced to the Japanese market in late 2002 and to Europe in early 2003. The car was radically redesigned: it featured a new, 70 mm longer wheelbase (developed with Renault) and an even more curvy exterior that was taller and slightly wider. Its most distinctive feature was a pair of prominent headlamps that extended to the wing tops. Other additions included a sliding rear seat and the option of keyless ignition on higher spec models. The range of engines included improved 1.2 (CR12DE) and 1.4 (CR14DE) petrol models, and a Renault-sourced 1.5 diesel unit (K9K). The automatic CVT transmission of the previous model was replaced by a conventional automatic transmission. The K12 was well received by the motor industry and set a new standard for the superminis that followed it. In July 2004, Nissan announced that a Coral Blue K12 Micra had become NMUK's one millionth car for the UK market, and that its Washington plant had produced over 250,000 K12s since the model's launch, for sale in up to 45 markets. In 2005, Nissan Europe released a performance model of the K12. Dubbed the 160 SR, it was released as a direct competitor to the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta Zetec-S and the Citro├źn C2 GT, with a 1.6 L HR16DE engine, giving 111 hp and uprated sports suspension. In 2006, Nissan renamed the 160 SR to the Sport SR in line with name changes across the board for the K12. However, this rebranding was short-lived, the performance model reverted to the 160 SR name in late 2007. The launch of the 160 SR coincided with a revision of the K12. The radiator grilles were given a chrome strip through the centre and the original amber indicators were replaced with clear ones. The rear bumper was restyled and made more robust (apparently in response to French parking habits). The interior was also given a makeover, with more supportive seats, thicker glass and better soundproofing. There were originally six trim levels of the K12, but in 2006 they were simplified to just three: Initia, Spirita and Sport. In addition, the launch line-up of six engines was reduced to the most popular four.
The Micra K13 (2010-): The first sketches of the latest generation Nissan Micra were unveiled on 1 October 2009. It was initially referred to as the W02A, later referred to in Nissan press releases as the K13. Nissan has stated that the model will be built in five countries, but only four are confirmed so far; Thailand for the Japanese and South-East Asian market, India for the local and European markets and Mexico and China for their local markets. Nissan launched the new Nissan Micra globally on 2 March 2010 at the 80th Geneva Auto Show in Switzerland. It will be sold in more than 160 countries, including Thailand in March 2010, India in July 2010, and Europe in November 2010. The K13 March was Launched in Japan on 13 July 2010 with models designated 12S, 12X, 12G, 12X FOUR and 12G FOUR. Prices range from 999,600 yen to 1,644,300 yen OTR. Nissan announced that as of June 25, 2010, it received a total of 12,147 sales orders in Japan in less than two weeks after initial sales. It is based on the new Type-V platform with a new 1.2 litre HR12DE (XH5) (79 hp and 80 ft/lb), 3 cylinder engine. In the UK, the K13 will be available with a more powerful version of the 1.2 litre engine featuring a supercharger. This produces around 25% more power whilst actually reducing CO2 emissions. Future models are expected to also use the HR15DE, HR12DDR and HR10DDT. The car is expected to be fuel efficient, delivering 18 km/litre.