2013 Nissan Micra Road Test

Nissan Micra road testDoing a full road test on a car the size of the Nissan Micra ST-L is not a lot of fun for anyone here at AussieMotoring HQ.

You see … we’re all tall and we’re not located in a capital city … in fact we’re about three to four hours drive from the city … and cars this size are usually not built for tall drivers on long trips.

So road testing something the size of the Nissan Micra is not very high on the list of cars we want to road test and we try to avoid them.

However, when one just magically appears in your driveway and you have to actually drive it somewhere to get it back to the person who left it there … well you can always fit in a quick road test can’t you?

The Nissan Micra ST-L that I drove was the latest 4-door manual sedan and it had just over 4,o00 km on the clock.

Overall Finish
The 2013 Micra ST-L comes to us from India … previous models were built in Indonesia … but the overall finish of the car I drove was excellent and the finish was equal to anything I’ve seen on Nissan’s coming from Japan.

There were however, two issues that I did notice about the car I drove. It had been thoroughly cleaned inside and out in Brisbane and yet, by the time it drove up the Bruce Highway to our location, there were quite noticeable signs of dust across the dashboard and on the instruments.

The second issue was the inset rubber mat on the driver’s side. The stitching that holds the mat to the carpet is inset by perhaps 10 millimetres from the edge of the mat and that allowed the edges of the mat to start rolling up. It made the floor in front of the driver’s seat look a little shabby.

The engine
The Nissan Micra is powered by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that produces 56kW of power and 100Nm of torque. That was coupled to 5-speed manual transmission in the car I drove (a constant velocity auto transmission is available as an option).

I found the car surprisingly fun to drive with the manual transmission although the 1.2-litre engine quickly runs out of puff on any sort of hill when you’re in fifth gear. On the flat it’s fast … on the hill in any gear it becomes a little slower so expect to be busy with the gear lever in anything but flat terrain.

I can only guess at what it would be like to drive the automatic version of the Nissan Micra but I wouldn’t expect it to be a lot of high-adrenalin fun.

The clutch in the manual Nissan Micra caught me off guard too. It’s very … and I mean very … light and fortunately no one was around to watch as I backed out of the driveway and then tried to proceed in a forward direction.

If anyone had been around they would have seen the Micra I was driving trying to emulate a kangaroo and it’s been many a long year since I last managed to do that. By the first corner I had mastered the clutch … at least I thought so … but I did have a quite a few revs on and maybe I spun the wheels … just a bit.

I didn’t get to spend long enough in the car to get any useful fuel consumption figures but the economy gauge that’s part of the dashboard was telling me that I was running at about 8L/100k.

Nissan Micra ST-L

Handling
On good tar the ride was wonderful … smooth … comfortable … just what you would want on a town car. But city roads are a far cry from some of the main roads around here and I soon discovered that the ride of the Nissan Micra on the average bumpy road around here was somewhat choppy … and hard … and I didn’t like it.

Despite that the car handled well … you can point it into a curve or corner at a reasonable legal speed and know that it’s going to come out the other side still pointing in the right direction and your passenger won’t be looking for the escape hatch.

As you would expect in a vehicle this size, the turning circle is tight … just nine metres according to Nissan.

The body
I’m neutral about the body shape. It seems to me that the designers wanted to be just a little bit quirky with the look of the Nissan Micra but still have something that was conservative enough to appeal to older drivers … and let’s fact it … not every Nissan Micra is going to be sold to a trendy young thing.

Older city drivers are going to be interested in the Micra because of its price tag, it’s size and it’s fuel economy and Nissan wouldn’t want to scare them away with something that was too quirky.

Whether it’s quirky or not you do get good all-round vision from the driver’s seat and big rear-view mirrors let you see what’s behind you too.

nissan-micra-stl-dash

The interior
The Nissan Micra I drove was a 4-door so there’s not going to be a huge amount of legroom for the driver. When I jumped in the car I found that the seat was fairly upright and already set all the way back and even though I felt as though my knees were almost up around my ears I left it the way it was.

I wasn’t uncomfortable and the driver’s seat certainly supported me everywhere I needed it to but … for me … it’s definitely a city car. I would not take it on a long trip.

The dashboard layout is simple and easy to read. All the important gauges are right where you can see them and the fuel gauge is incorporated into the driving computer so it will even tell you when it’s time to fill up … and how many kilometres you’ve got left till you run out of fuel.

Don’t expect big things from the boot in the Nissan Micra … remember, this is a small car however it does hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff if you pack it correctly. The Micra I tested arrived with enough luggage for two adults for four nights … and it was all packed neatly in the boot.

If just two of you are travelling in the car you can always fold the back seats down for even more luggage space.

And tucked in a well under the boot is a full-size spare.

nissan-micra-boot

The bottom line
If I was getting on in years, didn’t do any driving outside of the city or town limits and I wanted a car that was both economical and cheap to buy then maybe I would look at the Nissan Micra … and if there was just a bit more legroom for the driver I might actually buy one.

By | December 1st, 2013|Featured, Nissan, Road Tests|0 Comments

Nissan Juke

Nissan Juke SUVThe Nissan Juke is coming to Australia. This is the small SUV that first saw the light of day back in 2008 as the Nissan  Qazana concept and you can see photos of that concept here in Aussie Motoring.

It’s actually quite interesting to compare those concept photos with the final production model.

In January 2010 Nissan announced that the Juke would go into production for sale in Europe and now … at last … it’s coming to Australia next year. (I guess when everyone else is offering a small SUV you just have to keep up with the competition.)

While Australian specs for the Nissan Juke SUV are still to be announced Nissan have told us that it will be available in all-wheel-drive and two-wheel-drive versions. Look through the photos and you’ll see that the Juke SUV is quite a smart looking vehicle and not too far removed from the original concept.

By | October 20th, 2012|Nissan|Comments Off on Nissan Juke

New Nissan Murano

nissan-muranoDespite its relatively hefty price tag the Nissan Murano is proving to be a rather popular vehicle for those who want something extra in the medium SUV market and we’re currently seeing the second generation Murano in the showrooms.

Come September the current model will make way for the new Nissan Murano and we can to see a few changes to the Murano model we’re currently seeing.

On the outside the new Nissan Murano has a new grille along with a new design for the front bumper and headlamps. The design of the taillights has also been changed, rear privacy glass has been added and there’s a new roof rail design as well.

The new Nissan Murano will continue to be available in two models. The base model ST will be available at around $47,990 and for that price you’ll get rain sensing wipers, a Bose audio system with 2 gig of storage and a 7 inch color display. The ST also comes with a reversing camera and heated front seats.

new-nissan-murano

The top of the range Ti is priced at $58,390 and features a new sat/nav system, 9 gig of storage and iPod connectivity.

Engine and transmission
Nissan will continue with their 191kW V6 petrol engine but in the new Murano it will be mated to Nissan’s Xtronic Continuously Variable Transmission and that combination will return 10.9L/100km.

nissan-murano-interior

So if the Nissan Murano is the SUV that does it for you then you only have to wait a few more months for it to hit showroom floors.

By | July 4th, 2011|Nissan|Comments Off on New Nissan Murano

2012 Nissan Tiida – or something else?

nissan-hatchbackThe Nissan Tiida first Australian showrooms back in 2006 and has undergone several facelifts since then. Through all those changes the hatch has remained a rather unusual looking car but now there may be a new and much better looking Nissan Tiida on the horizon … and then again it might arrive in Australia as something else.

One thing is for sure though … this is the new Nissan global hatchback and it’s just been unveiled at the Shanghai Motor Show. It will be marketed in China as the Tiida but just what it will be here in Australia is still to be decided.

The new Tiida has a longer wheelbase (100mm) than previous models to give rear seat passengers more legroom and the width has been increased too.

Inside there are better seats, a floating centre cluster and armrests. Nissan has also worked to reduce the amount of vibration inside the cabin.

In China the new Nissan hatchback will also come with the option of a turbo-charged engine but there are no details of what we can expect here in Australia when it arrives next year.

By | April 20th, 2011|Nissan|Comments Off on 2012 Nissan Tiida – or something else?

Nissan Leaf in Australia

niisan-leaf-in-australiaSo the Nissan Leaf has arrived in Australia in the form of two full production hatchbacks. It was revealed to some motoring journalists earlier this week and from what I hear the impressions were generally favourable

The first two Nissan Leaf vehicles are here for testing but they’ll soon be joined by 16 more that will be handed to the Victorian government for a five-year electric vehicle trial.

Nissan describes the Leaf as a family-sized five-door passenger vehicle and Nissan suggests that it will be Australia’s first five-seater, five-door electric vehicle to be offered for sale to the general public.

The Nissan Leaf vehicles that are here … and are coming … have all been built in Japan but within two years Nissan plans to be producing the Leaf in the United States – Tennessee – and in the United Kingdom as well.

Technical details
The Nissan Leaf is powered by an 80kW AC synchronous electric motor and inverter that sit under the front bonnet. The motor draws its power from a 24kWh lithium-ion battery that can be charged from either a standard charger or a fast charger.

nissan-leaf-electric-motor

The motor delivers 280Nm of torque and Nissan claims that’s a similar output to what V6 petrol engine would deliver. However, unlike petrol engines, the electric motor in the Nissan Leaf delivers maximum torque instantly and that gives the Leaf smooth and quick acceleration.

Power is transmitted to the wheels via a single-speed reduction gear and together with the electric motor that gives the Nissan Leaf a top speed of 140km/h.

Nissan is not just resting on its laurels by producing a zero-emission vehicle with the Leaf. They’ve also gone out of their way to incorporate a lot of recycled material into various parts of the Leaf including seat fabric, the materials used in the instrument panel and the front and rear bumper as well.

nissan-leaf-dash

The Leaf in Australia
We’re could see something of the same road show that Nissan put on to introduce the Leaf into Australia as we get closer to a public release date but nothing has been announced.

Australian pricing and equipment levels for the Leaf are still to be decided but you can be sure that this is a car that will come with lots of goodies.

By | March 18th, 2011|Nissan|Comments Off on Nissan Leaf in Australia

Nissan Recalls 7000 Vehicles

Nissan is set to recall around 7,000 vehicles in Australia to fix a possible ignition fault that may cause the vehicle to stall while you’re driving.

Vehicles affected by the Nissan recall are models in the Tiida, Navara and Pathfinder range. While the recall only affects a relatively small number of vehicles here in Australia Nissan is looking at recalling well over 1.5 million vehicles worldwide.

In America the number of vehicles affected by the recall is said to be around 751,000 while in Japan the number of vehicles is somewhere north of 830,000. The cost to Nissan just for the repairs … a job that’s said to take just 15 minutes … will be huge.

By | October 30th, 2010|Nissan|1 Comment

New Nissan Micra

nissan-micraFor quite some time now the Nissan Micra has been something different in a segment where just about every other car looks the same … rip off their badges and you would never be able to tell them apart.

While looking different may good maybe it is possible to look a little too different and the old Nissan Micra always reminded me of something that Noddy might have been seen driving around in if green credentials had been important when I was a kid. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the old Micra did seem to sell quite well.

However that’s all history now because the new Nissan Micra is about to make it’s Australian debut and you could be forgiven for mistaking it for several of it’s competitors … at least in looks.

Top of the range Nissan Micra Ti

Top of the range Nissan Micra Ti

In price it’s certainly going to challenge some of it’s competitors because there aren’t many small cars that deliver 5.9L/100km, come with safety features such as Vehicle Dynamic Control, anti-lock brakes and six airbags all for $12,990 RRP. Of course dealer delivery and government charges will kick that price up but it’s still a good starting point.

Equipment levels
The new Nissan Micra comes in three equipment levels …ST, ST-L and Ti … and with either manual or automatic transmission. The Micra is also the first to secure a five star rating in the Green Vehicles Guide. Of course a rating like that does come at a price … not in dollars but in performance. If you want to be green and own a Micra then you’ll need to buy the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol version.

Nissan Micra ST engine

Nissan Micra ST engine

The more powerful 1.5-litre four-cyclinder petrol version returns just 6.5L/100km for the manual version and 6.6L/100km for the automatic version and does put out a bit more greenhouse gas.Nissan claim that 98 percent of the new Micra will be recyclable

All models have Bluetooth connectivity, multifunction drive computer, airconditioning, remote entry, CD player with AUX MP3 input and tilt-adjustable steering column.

The top-of-the range model features the Nissan Intelligent Key, push-button engine start and stop, climate control, reversing sensors, 15-inch alloy wheels, front fog lights and handbag storage. If the front passenger seat is not being used the seat squab can be flicked forward to provide a storage area for loose items.

Nissan Micra Ti storage

Nissan Micra Ti storage

Safety equipment
The new Micra comes with all the good gear I mentioned above plus Electronic Brake Force Distribution and Brake Assist on all models. The full suite of airbags is standard on all models too.

Design basis
The new Nissan Micra has been built on Nissan’s new global V-platform … a basic model that will be used in 160 different markets. Our version of the Micra will be built in Thailand … alongside the model being built for the Japanese market. Other plants in India, China and Mexico will build versions for other markets.

Extra storage when there's no front seat passenger

Extra storage when there's no front seat passenger

Pricing
pricing for the entry-level ST 1.2-litre model ranges from $12,990 to $14,990 while prices for the 1.5-litre ST-L and Ti models start at $14,990 for the ST-L manual and peak at $18,990 for the Ti automatic. All prices are recommended retail only and do not include statutory and dealer charges.

By | October 20th, 2010|Nissan|1 Comment

The Nissan Global Sedan

nissan-global-carNissan is set to unveil it’s new global sedan at the China International Automoobile Exhibition to be held in Guangzhou in December. Until then Nissan will tease us with this artist’s impression.

The fact that a Japanese manufacturer is showing a new global car for the first time at a show in China underlines just how important the Chinese market has become for car makers around the world.

By | October 13th, 2010|Nissan|Comments Off on The Nissan Global Sedan

2010 Nissan X-Trail

nissan-x-trail3For some of us mid-life means a time of crisis but for Nissan X-Trail mid-life means more goods, some price reductions and even more value for money for one of the leaders in the compact SUV segment.

Styling
A new grille, new headlamp design that feature brighter, clearer Xenon lights on the Ti petrol and TL diesel models and a new tail light cluster on all models are the most obvious changes to the 2010 Nissan X-Trail. A new bumper and new wheel/tyre specifications means that the X-Trail is 10mm wider and 10mm longer.

Interior
The Ti and TL models now come with keyless engine start/stop, automatic lights, rain sensing wipers, a factory fitted rear cargo blind and wider tyres.

All models gain a telescopic adjustment for the steering column and a Bluetooth Hands free phone system upgrade, with steering wheel mounted phone controls (now on ST models).

nissan-x-trail3-headlight

A heated and cooled glove box is now standard across the entire range while the ST X-Trail gains a six-stacker CD changer. ST-L (petrol) and TS (diesel) also get a rear cargo cover and new wider double five-spoke design 17-inch alloy wheels.

nissan-x-trail3-dash

There is a new and easier-to-read instrument cluster on the dashboard, featuring larger dials for the Nissan Vehicle Information Display drive computer (as seen on DUALIS), providing readouts of current fuel consumption, distance to empty, distance to oil change and warning messages, when required.

nissan-x-trail3-dash2

Upgraded seat trims, with new patterns and thicker materials are joined by additional silver highlights inside. Redesigned front seat backs give an additional 10mm of knee room for rear seat passengers

nissan-x-trail3-interior

Engine
Fuel consumption has been reduced across the range.

The 125 kW / 226 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine now consumes 9.1L/100km in both manual and CVT variants (9.3/9.5 L/100km previously) and is Euro IV compliant.

The 127 kW / 360 Nm (110 kW / 320 Nm in auto) 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine now returns 7.2 L/100km in manual and 7.4 l/100km when fitted with the 6-speed automatic transmission. (7.5/8.1 l/100km previously).

x-trail3

For the six-speed automatic transmission fitted to the diesel TS and TL variants, a technology upgrade allows a reduction in fuel use at idle. This is achieved by the transmission, when stationary in drive mode, shifting into a near neutral setting, reducing engine load. A side-effect of this is a reduction in idle vibration.

More fuel savings have been achieved because the high efficiency drive train reduces transmission oil friction by optimizing flow through the gearbox.

Models equipped with either the updated automatic gearbox or Continuously Variable Transmission also gain a recalibrated Advanced Hill Descent Control system. This allows the driver to control the speed of descent, either by applying the brake or the throttle during descent, within a speed range of 4km/h to 15km/h.

nissan-x-trail3-rear

Improved aerodynamics (including underbody cladding) cuts the drag coefficient to 0.35 and, combined with weight-saving casting technology making the 18-inch alloy wheels lighter, help reduce fuel consumption and emissions still more.

The new 2010 Nissan X-Trail will hit the showrooms this month and Manufacturer’s List Pricing for ST, Ti and TS models in the range have been reduced by between $500 and $1750 while pricing for the TL models remains unchanged.

By | September 13th, 2010|Nissan|1 Comment

Nissan Dualis +2

nissan-dualisThe new Nissan Dualis is out and there have definitely been some changes made. In fact there’s even been something of a change in the name for it’s now the Nissan Dualis +2 in recognition of the two rear seats that are now a fixture across the range.

Some of the other changes in the new Nissan Dualis include a new length and height … sliding middle row … under floor storage … CVT automatic transmission as standard … and front while drive or all-mode four-wheel drive options.

The new Nissan Dualis was designed in London and they’re built in the UK. I think it’s been many years since a vehicle in this price range was imported into Australia from the UK.

So how much bang for your buck do you get for your buck in the new Nissan Dualis?

The engine and transmission
The engine is the same lightweight all-alloy MR20 2.0-litre engine from the previous model and there’s no diesel option.

nissan-dualis-engine

To keep fuel consumption down (in a vehicle that’s heavier than the previous model) to a level where the petrol engine is competitive the 2.0-litre engine is now coupled to a fuel-saving continuously variable transmission … a stepless automatic transmission that keeps the vehicle in the right ‘gear’ regardless of what the vehicle is doing.

With the CVT transmission the Dualis will return a combined cycle of 8.5L/100km.

For those who want something a little sportier for their driving pleasure the CVT transmission also includes 6 pre-set ratios that can be accessed by “nudging the lever forward or back”.

nissan-dualis-transmission

Seats
To give greater access to the third row of seats the middle seat now slides through a range of 240mm … the cushion now splits 6040 and the seat bock splits 4020/40.

Even Nissan admits that the rear seat is really designed for children but they do say that it may suit short adults too. The rear seat splits on a 5050 basis and to fold it away all you have to do is pull on a single trap … there’s no need to fiddle with the head restraints first.

nissan-dualis-boot

When the rear seat is folded away there’s 550 litres of luggage space when when the second row is folded away there’s a 1520 litres of space.

Comfort and Safety
A full safety package that includes six airbags, front-seat active headrests and seatbelt pretensioners are standard on the Dualis +2 and the range features power windows, air conditioning, drive computer, Bluetooth mounted on the steering wheel along with audio and cruise control. The audio system includes a four-speaker CD system and MP3 connectivity.

The Ti version includes a panoramic glass roof, leather trim seats and steering wheel, 18 inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, six-disc CD player and dual zone auto air conditioning.

nissan-dualis-rear

Models
The new Nissan Dualis +2 comes in three versions … the base model ST 2WD priced from $29,990 … the Ti 2WD priced from $34,690 … and the Ti AWD priced from $36,890

By | August 8th, 2010|Nissan|Comments Off on Nissan Dualis +2

The New Series 4 Nissan Navara ST-X Ute

nissan-navara-dual-cabThe new Series 4 Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab ute is out and it’s got plenty to offer anyone who is looking for power, comfort, carrying capacity and off-road capability. While there have been some changes to the body of the Navara ST-X ute most of the changes are under the hood and in the cabin and they certainly do make a difference.

Under the bonnet
The Series 4 Nissan Navara ST-X dual cab ute now comes a 2.5-litre turbo-diesel engine that puts out 140kW of power and 450Nm of torque and yet is more fuel efficient and has less exhaust emissions than it’s predecessor.

To achieve that Nissan has added a new direct injection system and a new cylinder head with parallel ports. The new injection system in the Nissan Navara increases the pressure at which the fuel is injected into the moter and that means that the fuel spray ius atomized to an even finder degree to ensure better combustion.

nissan-navara-dual-cab-engine

The new cylinder head and it’s parallel ports increases the swirl efficiency of the combustion process and that’s coupled with a new variable nozzle turbo that’s electrically controlled. That combination generates quicker responses and raises power while reducing fuel consumption.

Nissan says that tests have shown that the new Series 4 Navara ST-X will return 8.5L/100km for the six-speed manual and 9.0L/100km for the five-speed automatic.

The current 4.0-litre V6 petrol engine will still be available in the new Series 4 Navara.

nissan-navara-dual-cab-2

On the outside
The new Series 4 Navara ST-X comes with a re-designed bonet and grill and a new bumper. Together those features will add 80mm to the length of the vehicle and reduce the amount of drag so that not only does the new Nissan Navara look good but the refined body shape adds to the fuel efficiency.

The new Series 4 will ride on six-spoke, 17-inch alloys and two new colours have been added to the range … Electric Blue and Flame Red.

nissan-navara-dual-cab-rear

On the inside
The obvious changes on the inside include new switchgear, revised door trims, new seat fabric, chrome highlights, revised dials and a new centre-floor console. Even the size of the door pockets have been increased.

Bluetooth connectivity, auxiliary input for MP3, power folding rear-view mirrors and a drive computer have also been added.

Perhaps a little less obvious but certainly noticeable once you’re in the new Series 4 Nissan Navara is the addition of dual-zone climate control.

nissan-navara-dual-cab-interior

Safety
The Series 4 Nissan Navara ST-X comes with a full complement of airbags … including side and curtain airbags, active head restraints and Nissan’s Electronic Stability Program are now fitted as standard on the ST-X diesel models. The Navara also comes with Brake Assist and EBD as well as height-adjustable headlights.

Bluetooth and audio controls are now illuminated for added safety during night driving.

Pricing
The new Series 4 Nissan Navara ST-X is available in four variants: ST-X petrol manual and Auto, and ST-X diesel manual and auto.
Nissan Navara ST-X Petrol 6-speed Manual – $47,990
Nissan Navara ST-X Petrol 5-speed Auto – $50,240
Nissan Navara ST-X Diesel Manual – $50,990
Nissan Navara ST-X Diesel Auto – $53,240

While the announcement from Nissan didn’t specify whether those prices included on-road costs or not I think it’s likely that you should add on-road and dealer delivery charges to the figures you see here.

By | March 25th, 2010|Nissan|3 Comments

The Nissan Leaf – a first glance

nissan-leafNissan is beginning to gear up for the release of what it describes as “the first competitively-priced, mass-produced electric vehicle from a mainstream manufacturer”. And just in case you may be wondering … or perhaps as a call to rally Nissan’s own … the latest press release goes on to describe the Nissan Leaf as a “serious car, a real car, and the right car for the times”.

Well they’ve certainly got that one right … it is an electric car for these times but is it the first mainstream mass-produced electric car to hit the market … Mitsubishi might just dispute that one.

And even though the Nissan Leaf is going to hit the market it won’t be launched everywhere at the same time and it won’t quite hit the market here in Australia for some time after the initial release … like at least 18 months after the release of the Nissan Leaf into other markets. But did anyone seriously think that the Nissan Leaf wasn’t a real car?

Side view of the Nissan Leaf

Sales of the Nissan Leaf will begin in the United States, Japan and selected European markets later this year and we won’t see it till some time in 2012. I’m sure that Nissan could produce at least a few of their electric cars for the Australian market before then but the infrastructure that an electric vehicle needs is missing right now in Australia.

So we’ll have to sit back and watch the Nissan Leaf from afar. In the United States there has been a major push to develop a demand for the vehicle and it appears that the Leaf will go on sale to the general public.

Rear view of the Nissan Leaf

In Europe the Nissan Leaf will go on sale to stakeholders, fleet operators and private customers. The stakeholders that Nissan specifically mentions in its latest press release are two major rental companies … Europcar and Hertz … both of which have signed Memorandums of Understanding with Nissan.

Nissan has also signed Memorandums of Understanding with the New South Wales and Victorian governments but that doesn’t mean the vehicle will get here any quicker. I guess Nissan realizes that neither State government are capable of getting the infrastructure that the Leaf needs in place any quicker than 2012.

A different way of buying the car?
Nissan are still considering just how they will actually sell the car. They know that the battery is the biggest single point of failure … and also the most expensive. So if they sell the car … in the same way that conventional cars are sold … as a complete unit some consumer resistance may develop when owners have to replace the battery.

Sticker shock will have nothing on the shock that some Leaf owners will feel when they see the price of a replacement battery. So Nissan is still looking at the possibility of selling the car but not the battery … instead they would lease the battery to the car buyer and perhaps regularly replace it as the battery approaches its use-by date.

One of the 48 modules that go to make up the battery in the Nissan Leaf

Powering the Nissan Leaf
At the heart of the Nissan Leaf is that very expensive battery … actually its 48 batteries split into two groups that reside under the seats and floor of the Nissan Leaf. That’s a great spot to put them … just so long as the car doesn’t end up in any deep water … because it leaves the boot space free for more luggage.

Those 48 lithium-ion batteries … or modules as Nissan likes to call them … have been specially developed by Nissan and they have twice the energy capacity of normal batteries, they’re thinner and lighter, they hold their charge longer and they’re easier to recycle. All good points for a car that wants to wear the mantle of being exceedingly green.

Tests Nissan has conducted on their lithium-ion batteries have shown that these batteries will still hold 70 to 80 percent of their charge when they’re ten years old.

So the battery is very green and has a long life but what can it do to keep the car moving? Well for a start it’s got a range of 160km and it has a power output of 90kW so it’s not going to be a shrinking violet when it comes to acceleration.

The charge point for the Nissan Leaf is on the front bonnet under a conventional looking fuiel filler cap

The charge point for the Nissan Leaf is on the front bonnet under a conventional looking fuiel filler cap

Charging the battery
While the car is in motion the battery will be receiving some level of charging for Nissan have not wasted any opportunity to extend the range of the vehicle. When the driver has his foot on the brake or the vehicle is coasting some charge will be being fed back into the battery.

Of course that’s not going to keep the battery charged forever and Nissan have given Leaf owners two options to fully charge the battery. As everyone would expect the main way to charge the Nissan Leaf is by plugging it into the power grid when you get home or get to the office and a full charge using this system will take around eight hours.

If your battery is running a bit low and you don’t have eight hours to wait for a full charge you can find what Nissan calls “a quick charging post” and plug your vehicle in. In under 30 minutes your Nissan Leaf will be charged up to 80 percent of the capacity of the battery. Of course when the Nissan Leaf is first released quick charging posts are going to be fairly scarce but Nissan expects more to appear around towns and cities as the Leaf becomes popular.

The dashboard for the Nissan Leaf

The dashboard for the Nissan Leaf

The electric motor
While the battery may be at the heart of the Nissan Leaf it still needs a motor to turn that electrical energy into propulsion and so the Leaf is fitted with an 80kW electric motor that will propel the car up to a maximum speed of 140km/h. Nissan describes the performance of the Leaf as “startling” and that’s what you should expect from an electric vehicle.

The Nissan Leaf mechanicals
While Nissan is right into economies of scale and building a variety of vehicles on just one platform they haven’t tried to do that with the Nissan Leaf. Instead they’ve developed an entirely new platform for the Leaf that’s 4445mm long, 1770mm wide and has a wheelbase of 2700mm.

Nissan says that the Leaf will seat five people in comfort although we’re not told whether those five are all adults or an unspecified combination of adults and kids. However tall those adults and kids might be, there’s still some room for luggage in the boot and while it’s not a huge boot it does look as though it will at least hold the weekly grocery shopping.

Talking to the Nissan Leaf
Nissan are certainly not letting any modern technology go to waste with the Nissan Leaf and if the owner has a mobile phone they they’ll be able to communicate with the car even though they may not be all that close to it.

Nissan says that owners will be able to use their mobile phones to check on the battery level, preset the interior temperature or even get notification once the vehicle has been charged.

And how much will it cost?
Well Nissan isn’t talking in dollar terms just yet although they do say that it will be “competitively-priced”. However, that’s a relative term and the price when the Nissan Leaf arrives in Australia may not be as “competitive” as you might hope.

While much has been said about the Nissan Leaf being built in America that’s not going to be the case for the first two years. Nissan will start building the Leaf at its plant in Oppama Japan and then bring a Leaf production line on-stream at its US plant in 2012.

The Nissan Leaf is a stylish looking vehicle and it’s certainly going to be worth waiting for but for those of us who live well outside the city limits a vehicle with a range of just 160km certainly won’t be game-changing.

By | March 15th, 2010|Nissan|Comments Off on The Nissan Leaf – a first glance

New Nissan Micra

nissan-micraIf you’re into small city cars then the new Nissan Micra is going to be of some interest to you. This is the fourth generation Nissan Micra and Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn, unveiled it today at the International Geneva Motor Show.

The new Nissan Micra is a very important vehicle for Nissan for it was developed and built on Nissan’s all new V-Platform and while it was designed and tested in Japan the Nissan Micra will be built in at least four overseas locations … India, Thailand, Mexico and China … and be exported to 160 countries around the world.

Design
“The car has to charm a global audience,” comments Makoto Yamane, Associate Product Chief Designer. “Its face had to look stylish and have an air of sophistication to it. “ A unique design feature of this car — its double-layer integrated grille — meets these requirements. But the car’s classic shape was also crucial. That’s why it also employs a stylized version of the distinctive arched side window line, something that is central to the Micra’s heritage, identity and appeal in Europe and Japan.

Retaining its compact dimensions, the new car is slightly longer and marginally lower, while its longer wheelbase enables a ‘wheels-at-each-corner’ stance, the main reason behind the Micra’s roomier interior. The boomerang-shaped grooves on the roof have a clearly defined purpose too, continues Yamane. Aiming to create the same sense of exterior style inside the car, Nissan has employed a ‘connected cocoon’ design featuring a dashboard design which takes on a ‘twin bubble’ theme. This refers to the circular instrumentation binnacle and the similarly shaped glovebox compartment on the passenger side.

The interior of the new Nissan Micra was designed in Japan ... I guess it shows.

The interior of the new Nissan Micra was designed in Japan ... I guess it shows.

All-new Engine and CVT
In Europe, a simple engine line-up sees just two engines options – both are variations on Nissan’s all-new naturally aspirated HR12 1.2-litre, 3-cylinder petrol engine. Inheriting its DNA from the HR16 4-cylinder engine powering the Note and Qashqai, the new engine employs valve-timing control (VTC). Power is rated at 59kW (80ps, while torque output is 108Nm. At only 115g/km, CO2 emissions for this version are world-class.

In addition to the new normally aspirated engine, Nissan will also offer a supercharged 1.2-litre direct injection iteration with a start-stop system fitted as standard in Europe. These technological innovations – stop-start reduces CO2 by six per cent – combine to offer spirited performance, with outputs of 72kW (98PS) and 142Nm of torque. Emissions will be just 95g/km, an exceptional achievement for a petrol engine.

Both engine options in Europe are available with either a 5-speed manual gearbox or Nissan’s all-new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The wide gear coverage enables the 1.2-litre engine to achieve the economy of a 1.0-litre as well as brisk acceleration.

Not satisified merely improving performance levels, engineers excelled in developing ride and handling characteristics which combine agility, refinement and poise. Mounted onto Nissan’s new signature V-platform, the suspension has been designed to be both compact, minimizing intrusion at the rear for maximum trunk space, but not at the expense of the car’s on-road dynamics. Particular attention has been paid to bump absorption, meaning that the Micra will ride serenely over challenging road surfaces, not suffer from wallow or float, and cruise effortlessly at highway speeds.

Comfort, function and equipment
In contrast to its high speed capability, the car also has superb visibility and a class-topping turning radius of 4.5m and several new technologies that assist with minimizing CO2 emissions and mileage while at the same time making parking easier.

Globally, equipment levels differ by market, but the new Micra is available with some key technological innovations which are designed to simplify day-to-day life for its owners.

The new Micra is available with reversing sensors and a new ‘parking space measurement’ (PSM) device with three skill levels (amateur, normal and expert) to lessen the burden of parking in tight spaces – a unique feature in this segment, and likely to be a popular innovation in Europe where ‘touch parking’ is a way of life.

It also offers an Intelligent Key, Nissan Connect, Nissan’s accessible touch-screen combined audio and satellite navigation system, glass roof, automatic wipers, speed sensitive volume on the audio, a push button start-stop system in addition to a drive computer which supplies drivers with real time fuel economy information, cruising range and outside temperature. On the security side, the car is also fitted with a speed-sensitive automatic door locking system.

The Nissan Micra is a city car so don't expect a lot of boot space

The Nissan Micra is a city car so don't expect a lot of boot space

Safety
The incorporation of the V-platform is one major factor contributing to the car’s improved impact safety. The car is designed to absorb the forces of a frontal impact, thanks to the sophisticated crumple zones, while maintaining cabin integrity due to its highly reinforced body shell. In Europe, the Micra will be fitted with ABS, dual front airbags, curtain and side airbags, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) and pretensioner seatbelts as standard equipment.

Simon Thomas, Nissan’s European Senior Vice President for Sales and Marketing, said: “The new Micra will continue to be the benchmark city car in Europe. Its appeal will be enhanced by its unique combination of compact exterior dimensions, with roomy interior, small and efficient engines, and user-friendly technology. Its continued icon status is destined to be be reinforced in its fourth generation.”

Sales of the new Micra will start in Thailand this month and spread to Europe in November.

By | March 3rd, 2010|Nissan|Comments Off on New Nissan Micra

The Nissan Leaf – It’s Got the Competition Worried

nissan-leafIt’s exciting times for Nissan and their many fans as the Nissan Leaf tours the United States. It’s also an interesting time for automotive industry observers as we watch Nissan’s attempts to make their new electric car something that car buyers simply can’t resist while other car makers try their hardest to pick holes in it

Sadly for Nissan … and the proponents of electric vehicles … the general buying public has some resistance to full-time electric vehicles that the makers of hybrid cars don’t have to worry about. And preying on the concerns people have about buying an electric car is quite a simple matter.

Simply talk in terms of range and recharging and anyone who wants to divert attention away from electric cars is on a winner. While some people may think that the range of an electric car like the Nissan Leaf is not going to be an issue with the motoring public the marketing departments are only too aware of how much of a concern range really is.

Under the floor in the Nissan Leaf

No one wants to head out on the highway in their wonderfully environmentally friendly electric car only to have it come home on the back of a truck because they’d drained the battery and there was no where to recharge.

So the guys at Nissan are working hard to ensure that people understand that the range of the Nissan Leaf is a full 100 miles (160 km) while most people won’t drive more than 40 miles (64 km) in a day.

The guys at Nissan are also doing something about making charging a whole lot easier for people who buy the Nissan Leaf … at least at home. In a move to make people feel comfortable about the cost of fitting special chargers Nissan has announced that it will provide everything that a home-owner needs … including the electrician … to install a home charging unit.

Nissan is also making sure that the American motoring public feels comfortable in buying the Leaf by having them built in the United States. Obviously it might be a Nissan but it’s a US-built car and that’s an important selling point because people will see it as a local car.

The Nissan Leaf

So things are looking fairly rosy for Nissan and perhaps not so good for those American companies who don’t have an electric vehicle in their current line up. Whether or not those car makers have been caught on the wrong foot or not remains to be seen but you can tell that they are not entirely comfortable about the Nissan Leaf.

When the Leaf first appeared there was very little in the way of criticism from the other makers … perhaps they were entirely focused on survival and had no time to look beyond their own front fence but that’s starting to change.

Now we are beginning to see a few subtle suggestions that maybe the Nissan Leaf won’t be the best vehicle to buy and GM is going right for the jugular as it begins to cast doubts on the Leaf.

For any electric car the jugular is the battery. It’s expensive and if it dies when the car is out of the warranty period then you’re in trouble and some car makers are suggesting that the battery in the Nissan Leaf is not as well-engineered as people might think.

Already a former Tesla marketing executive has gone public and suggested that the battery in the Leaf won’t give owners a true 100 mile range. Of course he’s a little vague about what that true range might be but he’s cast some doubt by suggesting that it will be “significantly less” than the stated range.

Then there’s the life of the battery. GM suggest that the batteries they will use in the Volt … which is essentially a hybrid … will last up to 10 years or 150,000 miles but those who want to cast doubts on the Leaf say that Nissan’s batteries aren’t going to last anywhere near that length of time.

Even Nissan admits that they have opted for a simpler battery set up because to include a battery heating and cooling system, as GM has included in the Volt, would mean that valuable cabin space would be lost. As some analysts point out, perhaps that’s why Nissan seems likely to lease the battery rather than sell it as part of the car.

The Nissan Leaf

Whatever the true situation might be there’s no doubt that the Nissan Leaf is an electric vehicle that deserves a chance and at times like this … when electric vehicles could do so much for the environment … it’s sad to see car makers white-anting each other instead of working together to produce the long-range electric vehicles that we need so badly.

At least it’s reassuring to know that the Nissan Leaf is good enough to have the competition worried.

By | February 1st, 2010|Electric Vehicles, Nissan|1 Comment

Nissan Leaf to be Built in the US

Nissan has now received Government support to build their latest electric vehicle … the Nissan Leaf … in the United States.

The plant … to be located in Tennessee … will have a vehicle capacity of 150,000 units a year and a battery capacity of 200,000 units a year.

There’s recently been some criticism of the technology that Nissan is using in the battery that will be used in the Leaf … with the suggestion that battery life will be reduced … so the difference in the figures mentioned above could be interesting

By | January 29th, 2010|News, Nissan|Comments Off on Nissan Leaf to be Built in the US

Nissan GT-R to race in the FIA GT1 World Championship

Nissan-GT-RNissan Motorsports International Co., Ltd. (NISMO) has announced that it has signed the official partnership agreements for the FIA GT1 World Championship with Sumo Power GT (UK) and Swiss Racing Team (CH).

Both teams will run two NISSAN GT-Rs respectively in the inaugural World Championship. NISMO will provide technical support to its new racing partners.

By | January 19th, 2010|News, Nissan|Comments Off on Nissan GT-R to race in the FIA GT1 World Championship

Nissan Announces New Small Cars and an SUV

nissan-qazanaNissan has announced that there are two new small cars in the pipeline for the American market and both will be on sale for under $10,000.

Details of equipment levels and powertrains are yet to be released but it is known that both cars will be built on Nissan’s new worldwide V platform and they will be built in Mexico.

Nissan has also announced that it will reveal it’s new European SUV at the Geneva Motor Show in March. The new SUV will be known as the Juke and Nissan says that it’s based on their Qazana concept SUV that first appeared in 2008.

Possible source vehicle for the Nissan Juke

Possible rear view of the Nissan Juke

By | January 13th, 2010|News, Nissan|2 Comments

The Nissan Cube

cubeOver the years Nissan has produced some very mundane cars … who could remember the Nissan Bluebird? And over the years Nissan has produced some very memorable machines … even the Datsun 1600 was something to remember!

Then there have been some rather ‘different’ cars from Nissan and amongst those is the Nissan Cube. It may not be the best car that Nissan has ever produced but it certainly is one of the most iconic that they’ve produced.

Sadly Nissan didn’t think that Australians appreciated iconic cars so they’ve never been available direct from the manufacturer in this country.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a Nissan Cube of your very own because the International Motor Group who have their headquarters in Lidcombe in Sydney’s western suburbs brings in used Cubes from Japan.

You can see the Nissan Cube lineup that’s currently on the International Motor Group’s lot by following the link.

By | January 10th, 2010|Nissan|1 Comment

Upgrades for the Nissan X-Trail

x-trailIt’s that time of year when a number of manufacturers announce upgrades to their current models and today it was Nissan’s turn to announce some upgrades across the X-Trail range

The Ti and TL X-Trail
The top-oif-the range X-Trails now get satellite navigation; a reversing camera that feeds images to the new 7­inch LCD touch­screen colour display located in the centre console; iPod connectivity via a USB plug; Bluetooth connectivity; CD player, DVD compatibility and steering wheel controls on the Ti (currently standard on TL). Externally, stylish new 18­inch alloy wheels and privacy glass complete the upgrade.

These features add only $2,000 to the Manufacturer’s List Price of the Nissan X-TRAIL Ti – now priced from $42,490, while the Nissan X-TRAIL TL is now priced from $42,990 (plus dealer delivery and statutory charges)*.

The Nissan X-TRAIL Ti and TL already feature leather upholstery and heated electrically adjustable front seats, panoramic sunroof and climate control air conditioning.

Nissan X-Trail

ST-L
The new Nissan X-TRAIL ST­L specification comprises a full leather seat trim; electrically adjustable front seats with front seat heating; steering wheel audio controls; privacy glass; Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls and iPod jack. The Nissan X-TRAIL ST­L is now priced from only $37,740 for the six­-speed manual or from $40,240 for the CVT model (plus dealer delivery and statutory charges).

Nissan X-Trail dashboard

TS
The Nissan X-TRAIL TS Turbo Diesel model gains the iPod jack, Bluetooth connectivity with steering wheel controls and privacy glass with no increase in price, from $37,740 (plus dealer delivery and statutory charges)*. The ever popular petrol­powered ST model adds the iPod jack, also with no price change, from $32,990 (plus dealer delivery and statutory charges).

Nissan X-Trail

Announcing the upgrades the CEO of Nissan Australia had this to say about the X-Trail:

“The Nissan X-TRAIL is an outstanding all­rounder.

“It provides authentic SUV performance on any surface, has plenty of room to stow your sports adventure gear and its choice of petrol or diesel engines means there’s a model to suit all compact SUV customers.

“With this latest update we have added even more value. Our diesel models were a response to consumer demand and continue to represent outstanding value for money. They also strike the right note with buyers who are interested in reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

“The improved specification package will make the Nissan X-TRAIL the first choice for those who want a well­specified, comfortable and sporty compact SUV which has shown its pedigree over the years and continues to improve,” said Thompson.

“The ST­L model in particular gives us a lead over our rivals with its now standard leather seat trim and heated, electrically adjustable front seats.”

By | December 16th, 2009|News, Nissan|Comments Off on Upgrades for the Nissan X-Trail

The Nissan Leaf

leafScheduled for launch in late 2010 in Japan, the United States, and Europe, Nissan LEAF ushers in a new era of mobility – the zero-emission era. The Nissan Leaf is the embodiment of Nissan’s vision for the future and the culmination of years of investment and research.

Key characteristics of the LEAF include:
1) Zero-emission power train and platform
2) Affordable pricing – although ‘affordable is a relative term and recent reports suggest that it could hit the showrooms in Australia with a list price of anywhere between $33,000 and $39,000 at current exchange rates.
3) Distinctive design
4) Real-world range autonomy – 160km (100 miles)
5) Connected Mobility: Advanced intelligent transportation (IT) system

Pricing details will be announced closer to start of sales in the United States – expected to begin in late 2010; however, the company expects the car to be competitively priced in the range of a well-equipped C-segment vehicle. Additionally, Nissan LEAF is expected to qualify for an array of significant local, regional and national tax breaks and incentives in markets around the world.

ZERO-EMISSION MOBILITY
Nissan LEAF is powered by laminated compact lithium-ion batteries, which generate power output of over 90kW, while its electric motor delivers 80kW/280Nm. This ensures a highly responsive, driving experience that is in keeping with what consumers have come to expect from traditional, gasoline-powered automobiles.

Nissan Leaf - the electric vehicle of the future

Unlike internal-combustion engine (ICE) equipped vehicles, Nissan LEAF’s power train has no tail pipe, and thus no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases. A combination of Nissan LEAF’s regenerative braking system and innovative lithium-ion battery packs enables the car to deliver a driving range of more than 160km (100 miles) on one full charge*.
(*US LA4 mode)

Topping up the Nissan LeafExtensive consumer research demonstrates that this range satisfies the daily driving requirements of more than 70% of the world’s consumers who drive cars. And, Nissan has set out to make charging easy and convenient.

Nissan LEAF can be charged up to 80% of its full capacity in just under 30 minutes with a quick charger. Charging at home through a 200V outlet is estimated to take approximately eight hours – ample time to enable an overnight refresh for consumer and car alike.

REAL-WORLD CAR
The engineers and designers behind Nissan LEAF worked to create a competitively priced real-world car that would enable Nissan to lead mobility into the zero-emission era. To ensure comfort, spaciousness and cargo capacity, Nissan LEAF employs a completely new chassis and body layout.

“Our car had to be the world’s first, medium-size, practical EV that motorists could afford and would want to use every day. And that’s what we’ve created. The styling will identify not only Nissan LEAF but also the owner as a participant in the new era of zero-emission mobility,” said Masato INOUE, Product Chief Designer.

DISTINCTIVE DESIGN
Even the smallest details can yield tremendous effect.

Nissan LEAF’s frontal styling is characterized by a sharp, upright V-shaped design featuring long, up-slanting light-emitting diode (LED) headlights that employ a blue internal reflective design that distinguishes this car from any other But the headlights do more than make a statement; they are also designed to cleverly split and redirect airflow away from the door mirrors, thus reducing wind noise and drag.

The small boot area on the Nissan Leaf

The headlights provide yet one more benefit in that they consume about 50 percent of the electricity of conventional lamps, which reduces the drain on the battery.

Through bright trim colors inside, Nissan LEAF creates a pleasing and stylish cabin environment. The “blue earth” color theme that has been used on the prototype is carried into the interior through blue dashboard highlights and instrument illumination.

CONNECTED MOBILITY IT SYSTEM
Nissan LEAF employs an exclusive advanced IT system. Connected to a global data center, the system can provide support, information, and entertainment for drivers 24 hours a day.

The innovative Nissan Leaf dashboard

The dash-mounted monitor displays Nissan LEAF’s remaining power – or “reachable area” – in addition to showing a selection of nearby charging stations. This is important because Nissan believes that it will help overcome any range anxiety that may worry a driver Another state-of-the-art feature is the ability to use mobile phones to turn on air-conditioning and set charging functions – even when Nissan LEAF is powered down. An on-board remote-controlled timer can also be pre-programmed to recharge batteries.

“The IT system is a critical advantage,” says Tooru ABE, Chief Product Specialist. “We wanted this vehicle to be a partner for the driver and an enhancement for the passengers. We also wanted this vehicle to help create a zero-emission community, and these IT features will help make that possible.”

WORLDWIDE PARTNERS
Zero-emission mobility programs under the banner of the Renault-Nissan Alliance include partnerships with countries such as the UK and Portugal, local governments in Japan and the USA, and other sectors, for a total of nearly 30 partnerships worldwide.

In these partnerships major efforts focus on three areas:
1) Development of a comprehensive charging infrastructure through public and private investment,
2) Incentives and subsidies from local, regional, and national governments, and
3) Public education on the individual and societal benefits of zero-emissions mobility.

And just this week Renault-Nissan entered into one of these partnerships with the New South Wales state government.

ZERO-EMISSION VEHICLE PRODUCTION
Nissan LEAF is the first in the company’s forthcoming line of EVs and is a major milestone in the realization of the Renault-Nissan Alliance’s vision for zero-emission mobility.

The first of Nissan’s EV’s will be manufactured at Oppama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for Smyrna, Tennessee, USA. Meanwhile, lithium-ion batteries are being produced in Zama, Japan, with additional capacity planned for the USA, the UK and Portugal, and other sites for investment are under study around the world.

This post was compiled from an edited Nissan press release and the author’s notes

By | December 12th, 2009|Electric Vehicles, Nissan|Comments Off on The Nissan Leaf