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With styling that makes the new Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo look distinctly humdrum, the car seen here being readied for a Nissan photoshoot is set to take the Frankfurt Motor Show by storm in a fortnight’s time. However, Nissan is playing safe at first. Despite looking ready to roll, the car seen here will be used to gauge potential customers’ tastes before it is signed off for production.
More than 60 per cent of current Nissan Micra sales are to women; its soft shape is considered too ’girlie’ for many male buyers. The rounded bodywork is far bigger than on the outgoing car, especially the height and width, to dramatically improve interior space. A glass roof from the windscreen to the back window will add to the airy feel, while a five-door model will also be offered on production versions. Inside, the styling also borrows cues from the new Primera with a huge one-piece dash that houses a central computer console to control ventilation, stereo and optional sat-nav systems.
Underneath, the Micra will share its platform with the next-generation Renault Clio, due for launch in 2003. However none of the visible components ñ inside or out ñ will be shared, allowing the cars to create individual niches. The project is the first to be jointly developed by the two firms; the next Renault MÈgane and Nissan Almera will also use shared parts. Nissan has yet to reveal details of the new Micra’s powertrains, but it’s expected to use the current model’s petrol engines, with direct-injection units developed in conjunction with its French partner being added later. And for the first time, a diesel Micra will be offered here, using the current Clio’s acclaimed 1.5-litre dCi.