Fuel-saving and CO2-cutting weight reduction is one of the key engineering themes behind the next-generation Nissan Micra, which goes on sale here in summer 2010. The new supermini is significantly lighter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor as a result of a new platform, or core architecture - called 'V' for versatility - which Nissan has ruthlessly pared weight from.
An average of 50kg has been cut across the range, and some models are as much as 60-70kg lighter as a result of measures that include a redesigned exhaust system and a vastly reduced parts count in the seating.
Project leader Noritaka Tsuru described the new package as a "breakthrough car" due to the virtuous circle created by weight reduction, the reduced fuel consumption that follows allowing a smaller fuel tank, which in turn improves interior space.
Fuel consumption has also been reduced by using a new three-cylinder petrol engine with engine that generates less energy-wasting internal friction, and a better transmission. A diesel version is also planned. Over the next three years the V platform will spawn three different body styles - hatch, saloon and MPV - but only the hatchback and supermini MPV will make it to the UK.
Clean Green Cars was granted a 'no-photos' sneak preview of the final car at a private unveil at Nissan's new Yokohama HQ in Japan that also revealed two exterior design details that assist with the car's reduced diet. Two unusual 'U' shapes scored in the roof help alleviate vibration, allowing sound insulation to be shed, while an upward curve to the rear of the roofline significantly improves aerodynamics.
This new lighter Micra builds on a welcome trend towards lighter superminis begun by the Mazda2, and should see the consumption and emissions performance of small cars continuing to improve.