Nissan wants to re-establish the Micra as one of the 10 top-sellers in Europe's biggest and most competitive segment after its predecessor slipped to a disappointing No. 18. Nissan also wants the new Micra to account for 4 percent of European subcompact sales, which last year were a Europe-best 2.8 million, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics.
Nissan is confident it can achieve both targets because the car's slow-selling predecessor was aimed at global markets, while the fifth-generation Micra was conceived, designed and engineered with European car buyers' requirements in mind.
"If you compromise too much you lose customers," Laurent Lamotte, Nissan Europe's marketing product manager for the Micra, said when comparing the old car with the new one. "We cover more of the customers' needs in the segment with this car."
One key was giving the Micra a diesel, which comes from alliance partner Renault, something the fourth-generation car lacked. Nissan estimates that 20 percent of subcompacts sold in Europe have a diesel, but without the powertrain Lamotte said Nissan would be at a disadvantage against rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo. He said that while Nissan is not in the same league as those two cars when it comes to unit sales, that didn't stop the automaker from benchmarking the Micra against the Fiesta for driving dynamics and against the Polo for providing a safe and secure ride.
Nissan believe the Micra can match its rivals in both areas, but to stand out in the segment -- and to lure more male buyers -- Lamotte said Nissan gave the Micra an athletic, modern exterior design. The carmaker's aim is to have a 50-50 ratio of male and female buyers for the new Micra -- a level Lamotte said the automaker has achieved in clinics for the car -- instead of the 70-30 ratio of female customers for the previous model.
Nissan also reduced the Micra's drag coefficient to 0.29 Cd compared with 0.32 Cd for the previous model, which helps improve efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. For instance, the addition of a roof spoiler and rear side spoiler to the Micra helps to save 1 gram of CO2 per km because of the better airflow, said Irina Lizunova, who is Nissan Europe's deputy manager of strategy and product planning. She said Nissan also improved the car's underbody airflow by adding or upgrading the air deflectors for the front and rear tires and fuel tank.