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Engines on test: Nissan Micra DCI90

Nissan's fifth-generation Micra shares a range of engines with its Alliance-partner Renault, which feel right at home in the rejuvenated Japanese supermini

 

Like all cars in its class, Nissan’s Micra is no longer the diminutive supermini it once was in terms of overall dimensions. Whilst the K14, fifth-generation, model introduces a plusher interior and sharper exterior design language for Nissan, it is powered by the same range of engines from Renault’s fourth-generation Clio.

Our test car was equipped with the K9K 608 engine, also known as the DCi 90. The 1,461cc capacity of the inline four is achieved through a 76.0mm bore and 80.5mm stroke, with a compression ratio of 15.2:1. Whilst the 90hp headline figure might not appear particularly high, it is typical of the class and only has to move 1061kg despite the Micra now measuring over 3,700mm long and 1,660mm wide.

In tipping the scales at just over a metric ton, the Micra makes the most of the K9K’s 200Nm torque figure with a linear delivery through the lower revs. Out on the road, progress in light and even heavy traffic isn’t tedious, whilst overtaking is relatively easy.

At higher revs, however, the power delivery subsides meaning the tachometer’s last 1500-1750rpm are relatively redundant. But whilst most small diesel cars can suffer from poor NVH at idle and at speed in comparison to their petrol equivalents, the Micra scores well with a refined feel across the board. The five-speed transmission is well matched in terms of ratios too, however the light clutch is a constant reminder of the, broader, target audience.

Even though it is a borrowed unit, the K9K feels at home in the Micra’s application. The pairing delivers a surprisingly accomplished car in a saturated marketplace; the extra weight the diesel carries over the front end (in comparison to the petrol equivalent) lends a surprisingly welcome additional weight to the steering and a firmer footing on the road. The offset is a slightly unsettled ride on rougher surfaces.

Over our time with the car, we didn’t see its claimed 61mpg other than when lifting and coasting. We did however manage respectable figures, on average, of 50mpg. The Micra, as a brand, went through something of a dull patch in its previous two generations, but the fifth interpretation is arguably the best yet.

 

2 November 2017

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