Along with the test drive of the Honda Amaze automatic (which would also mean Brio AT), I also got a chance to take a test drive of the Nissan Micra CVT. After a rather long 2-3 hours at the Honda showroom, we just stopped by the Surya Nissan showroom for a test drive for Micra CVT. Since we were very tired we told the dealer guys that if it was possible they could give us a test drive at our home itself and quite courteously enough they agreed.
And as I drove to my home in my Sunny, I did find that the test drive vehicle was always keeping pace with us no matter how fast I drove. Upon reaching our home, each of us took a test drive of the CVT Micra which I will elaborate more upon just below.
For those who know about the Nissan Sunny, barring the exorbitant amount of space, the Micra's interiors are pretty much a xerox copy of the Sunny. True that it's not so great to compare the hatchback with the sedan, but in most cases, the two siblings are modelled identically and so is the case with Nissan as well. The dashboard is the dull brown or grey as you may call it. The stereo system thankfully is in piano black. The climate control system panel is similar to Sunny as well and the steering and front seating also gets the same treatment. For those who do not already know I wish to state here that until now in the entire B-segment sedan market, the Nissan cars have the most optimal seating ergonomics.
Honda has screwed it up a bit on the City, the Vento is a bit tight, Fiat Linea is better but deep and down, and it's becoming a trend where pretty much every manufacturer creates a bucket seating design which in turn makes the road lesser and lesser visible leading to driving confusion. Somehow I found that the Amaze was close to Nissan in retaining a taller seating position naturally. The seating is very car specific and its all about the final design that has a say in which model of which manufacturer cuts it and which not.
I'm not a big fan of bucket seating as it leads to backache, leg ache and a general feeling of tiredness upon constant amount of driving. Another problem that I personally face in most cars is the clutch. Either its position or its play or its tightness. Sometimes the position was absurd as in the case of Polo (higher than other pedals which was a big bummer), or deep as in the case of FIAT (their logic being that Indians always place leg on clutch) or some other cars where pressing the clutch by itself was a great effort. Since we are dealing with automatic transmission here, that was on headache lesser.
The Nissan micra also carried forward lots of chrome on door knob handles, the dashboard and other areas from its elder siblings. The steering is an absolute beauty and its so much of a driver oriented design that I cannot stop raving about it enough. The gearshift is an automatic stick that has Neutral, Parking, Reverse, Drive and Low Range mode (for steeper inclines). The shift also has a overtake mode button for sudden overtakes which takes the car to sporty modes.
Switch the car on, and have no idea whether the engine is on or not. This is one of the most silent petrol engines I've seen so far. Being the racing engine preference kind of guy (read fiat, ford) this was a complete surprise to me honestly. And being a diesel head since almost 6-7 years now, I was suddenly thrown into an absolutely silent environment which for a moment was ultimately comforting for me.
Step on the gas and the car is ready to lunge forward immediately unlike the useless response of the Amaze/Brio siblings. This is an engine that really wants to keep up with you. The car handled some bad potholes pretty well and for the driver it was not so much of an issue. The people (3) at the rear were also overhead commenting that the space inside was sufficient enough (this was after what they felt the caaaaaaar to be) which was good to hear. I did find the car to be throwing about the rear occupants quite a bit on bad stretches so this could be one of the letdowns though one is expected to drive this car in an executive manner though the advertisement states otherwise.
There was a situation where I was approaching (merging with) a main road from a residential area and the road started to incline upwards to about 10-20 degrees at the merge. When I was about to merge left I had to come to an abrupt stop due to another larger vehicle which passed me by. To my surprise I found that the Micra was holding up well and stayed put on that incline as is without a single bit of dodge from that position. I stepped on the pedal once more and it willingly took me forward as though nothing had happened. The character of the CVT is so composed at all times and you never feel the car is going to let you down ever, though it might be a tad slow on overtaking manoeuvres as compared to the manual geared versions.
The air con is a mature piece of electronics and does its job to keep you cool if you are fretting within the car. Play some music and you will be lost into your own world immediately. This car has a reasonable amount of space at the rear and the boot and you will have no reason to complain about these. The front fascia looks gorgeous with the new revisions and the rear has LED tail lamps. The car is priced at about 8 lac on the road and with a bit of negotiations we were able to get a price of about 7.6 on the road (without any accessories). This car also has push button start and two airbags for safety, and already comes with everything fitted. The only thing I would have liked is if it had paddle shift gears on the steering and I believe this would be a fair ask since I am comparing this car with Honda, both Japanese cousins.
If you are looking for a car that will really love you and never leave you, and is willing to work with you to keep you calm and composed while you enjoy sitting inside it and driving it, the Micra CVT is my choice for you. With an apparent mileage of about 14-15 for an auto tranny, its really got nothing to complain about as compared to other cars which either skimp on safety or some other feature here and there to make you always visit the accessory showroom. Nissan Micra CVT is a bold step by the company to introduce the only CVT in India in this segment and by the time the others make it to the market, Nissan would have already had a good lead in the CVT game to the extent that this car could get subsidised further due to the profits already made.
The service centres are nothing to write home about and currently this still remains a concern with both Shahwar and Surya in Bangalore. I found Shahwar to be maturing into servicing cars properly but Surya has a lot to learn with respect to having the right skill sets and attitude. Further considering that this car is a CVT, only regular oil and filter changes may be required to keep this baby in good shape other than the usual clean ups, tire pressures and other such stuff. The CVT engine will surely have a longevity much higher than manual engines around the same price brackets and I feel one could easily drive this engine all the way to the 200,000km mark without any issues. Nissan's engine quality (both petrol CVT and the Renault diesel engine in Sunny) seem legendary with the way they perform and its highly unlikely to run into an engine issue when you purchase this car. Be wary of the dealers and specific to say what you want attended to in the service and you must get what you need. And just because there are only 1 or 2 dealerships, don't fret much since that's the case with most car brands.
Of all the brands that I know in the market, I feel only Toyota and Ford have a quick service option which is really quick. They have bays dedicated to handling some quickly solvable problems and keep these aside from regular service areas.
Overall the Nissan Micra CVT is an excellent car with few known quirks and perhaps unpredictable service. On the drive it is surely a car that will keep you extremely happy and create more time and mood for good conversations. If I had the money today and decided on an automatic, this would be it - the Nissan Micra CVT.