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Nissan puts new Micra on a diet

Date: 22 October 2009   |   Author: Guy Bird

The all-new Nissan Micra - on sale in October 2010 - will be significantly lighter and more fuel-efficient than its outgoing model due to a groundbreaking new platform.

The impetus behind the platform - internally named 'V' for versatility - was to create a virtuous circle started by a ruthless pursuit of weight reduction which leads to better fuel economy, so the car can sport a smaller fuel tank and thus create more compact packaging possibilities.

On average 50kg has been slashed from the new car range's weight - some models are 60-70kg lighter - through a series of engineering measures, from a redesigned exhaust system to a vastly reduced parts count in the seating systems. Overall the component count has been halved.

Fuel economy has been boosted through the use of a new three-cylinder petrol engine with engine friction reductions, a better transmission and a more aerodynamic exterior. A diesel version is also planned.

The platform will accommodate two wheelbases and initially three different body styles - hatch, saloon and MPV - that will launch over the next three years. Of those, only the hatchback and supermini-MPV will make it to UK shores.

BusinessCar was granted a 'no-photos' sneak preview of the final car in the metal - although without interior - at an early private unveil at Nissan's new Yokohama HQ in Japan this week. The new car is more conventional than the opinion-splitting old version, but with distinctively sporty-looking bonnet creases and friendly face oval headlamps to add some character. Two unusual 'U' shapes scored in the roof and an upward curve to the rear of the roofline are not further design flourishes though. The former helps alleviate vibration and the latter significantly improves aerodynamics - two further visual indications that show how seriously Nissan is taking its new quality and lightweight obsession.