New Micra has been priced in the territory of premium hatchbacks while for slightly stripped Active variant of Micra,company has drastically reduced the prices so much so that trade of the lowest trim of Active model starts from as low as Rs 3.50 lakh. This two-pronged assault of Nissan has indeed got all the potential to bring back cheers to company’s showroom as both premium and economy hatchback segment has been effectively covered by this new drawn up pricing strategy of Nissan. Now Nissan has a competent contender in form of refreshed Micra to compete head-on with likes of Swift, Polo, Liva etc. whileActive variant is all set to furl the company’s flag right into the territory of category benchmark; Stingray that usually tops the sales chart with average trade of 12000-14000 units per month. With overlapping price territory and coincided target customer-segment, the competition for this pie of hatchback is going to fierce and freewheeling with no holds barred as both Stingray and Micra Active looks all set to lock horns with single-minded aim of slugging it out in open. Will Nissan Active be able to better the Maruti’s Stingray on account of its bubbly design and hugely practical cabin or Stingray owning to upmarket avatar will continuous to rule the hatchback roost by running its compatriot Micra Active challenge to ground? This week, at eacrdlr, we settle the supremacy debate between these two Japanese giants who stake their claims for India’s best hatchback crown.
Design philosophy of both the cars is at stark contrast to each other though the manufacturers of bot the propositions have zeroed in on the same customer segment. Maruti has utilized the upper-space to its merit in stingray while Micra has bet on the retro and bubbly look to entice the buyers. Both cars in their flesh looks modern and contemporary though Stingray with its upgraded nose and headlamp cluster have a slight edge over the Micra active that looks more adorable and pleasant.
Front face of the Stingray comes with all new slimmer grill flanked by the all new projector headlamps on either side. The reflector theme of grill along with mild wraparound design of lamps makes upmarket and solid first impression. In Profile prominence has been given to new multi-spoke design of alloy wheels and blacked out pillars that successfully carry the responsibility of zinging up the side view of this new upgraded Wagon R variant.
Rear of the Stingray comes with new clear lens tail lamps with liberal chrome garnish though the overall design pattern is reminiscent with current Wagon R. Boot lid has again get accented chrome on with in place prominence given to Stingray badging. Addition of spoiler has indeed made a difference as it blends seamlessly with the tall-boy posture of car.
Cute is the right adjective to describe the overall shape of the Micra which is quite distinctive in terms of its perceptible appearance and though the Active variant comes with some style tweaking both on exterior and interior, most of the panel works has been carried over from the earlier Micra.
Frog eye headlamps, slender grill and large air-intake characterize the frontal of Micra Active. Side profile of car has remained unchanged as the domination of the curvy window line and boomerang roof has been unchanged. Slightly bulging out rear bumper and smart tail lamp cluster dominates the rear design theme while large windscreen enhances the practicality as well as roominess aspect of this cute and bubbly design.
On dimensional front, Active dwarfs Stingray as it is lengthier, wider and comes with longer wheelbase though the effective use of up-ward profile has equipped Stingray with taller and high ground clearance stance than the Micra Active. Overall the choice on looks is subjective though we find both the cars quite practical though the balance of modern-flair design tilts in favour of Stingray thanks to its high-profile frontal face fuss that has indeed helped the car to look and feel more upmarket. Micra Active though has borne the brunt of its economy looks that although rouse the pleasant feeling, fails to break the economical tag imbibed in every bit of it.
Stingray: *****Micra Active: *****
On both space and comfort, Micra Active triumphs over Stingray as the cabin feels wider, airy and spacious. The colour combination of grey although has lowered the perceived quality quotient in Micra Active still it has been instrumental in equipping the Active with airy and comfort feel; something that you miss in the Stingray. With more wheelbase of about 50 mm over Stingray, Micra Active offers slightly better legroom and knee room though the biggest ace that Activde has up its sleeve is the wider footprints. With around 200 mm more width than Stingray, Micra Active feels far more comfortable even with three persons at the back. Comparing this three-person seating capacity with Stingray which is quite terrible, Active version feels at home and a short spin in city with 5-persons on board is quite cool for this Nissan.
Even on the boot space, Nissan leads the competition with its 251 litres of trunk room while Stingray struggles with measly 180 litres of luggage capacity. But once you take your mind off the inside space, Micra starts losing the advantage as the cabin wears the look of basic living room devoid of having any flair and quality bits. And exactly here Maruti jumps in and start reclaiming its lost ground courtesy of its black-cabin and chrome dazzling.
Dabs of classy piano finish along with chrome accents dispersed here and there inside the Stingray cabin look classy and the efforts of Maruti to upmarket the Stingray really paid off. Though the black colour does little to augment the space feeling, still the ambience quality has really been uplifted and by far there is no doubt about it. Instrument cluster with MID and twin-glove boxes augment the practicality of the Stingray while intuitive AC and stereo controls makes the life simple for city-driving.
Overall this round of the living room match ends with a deuce as both the players have outperformed each other in respective sets of space and quality. With score levelled at 40 each, next two points are going to be crucial as these could decide the final fate of this road test comparison which, till now, seems to be heading towards the draw.
Stingray: *****Micra Active: *****
Although the power output of both the cars are rated at 68 PS, torque generation in case of Micra Active leads the chart by a margin of 14 Nm with total rotating force of 104 Nm. Besides rated power, the 3-cylinder configuration is shared by both the players however Micra displaces 200 cc more than 1.0-litre K-series engine of Stingray. Both the cars uses 4-valves per cylinder configuration mounted on the double overhead cam arrangement though power of peaks much earlier in Nissan i.e. @ 5000 rpm than compared @ 6200 rpm corresponding to Maruti.
Although both the engines feature 3-cylinder configuration, still these are not obtrusive units as efforts to reduce the NVH levels by both manufacturers paid off. Further the throttle responses in both the cars produce eager results though Maruti’s K-series feels slightly more perky and lively in the bottom range. I mid-range too, K-series leaps ahead as its max torque comes slightly early @3500 rpm than @4000 rpm of Micra Active. Still Micra has sufficient gas to compete head and shoulders with Stingray in mid-range and on the open stretch it even beats this Maruti. However as the motor revs even higher, Micra starts running out of its breath while K-series eve becoming more eager for high end. This makes the K-series quote addictive in nature especially for petrol-heads and though Micra tries hard to keep up with the high-end pace of Stingray, it finally concedes its defeat.
Both the engines are mated with 5-speed transmission that channelizes the power to the front wheels of the vehicles. Clutch of the both cars are light though Maruti has gone extra step to make Stingray feels even more lighter though in the process, company has lost on the progressive feel of the gear shifting that sometimes feels quite annoying, especially on highways. However for city practicality the mover is sure to get extra appreciation from the owners.
Gear lever of both the cars is long and lacks heavily on the slickness part. Cable-type linkages have transpired into better shifting in Maruti though it is still far from the best. On other hand, Micra too suffers from the shifting vagueness and the whole grey-colour level and tunnel looks cheap too.
Stingray: *****Micra Active: *****
Both the cars come with standard MacPherson strut up front though rear suspension hardware ideologies of Stingray and Micra active differ considerable. While Maruti has put rear onus on isolated trailing link, Nissan has selected torsion beam for Micra’s back wheel suspension duty. Ride quality of both the cars is very much similar as both the vehicles suffer from the good cushioning ability as the pimples on the road get directly transferred into the cabin. The springs are damped quite hard and this leads the cars to often crash with a solid thump that is clearly audible and perceptible inside the cabin. Both cars lacks the progressiveness of the suspension though slow speed ride experience is slightly better in the Micra Active than in Stingray.
Moving on to handling, though we suspected Maruti to be a rather poor handler owing to its tall-boy design, it manages just fine. Stiffened suspension helps the vehicle to toe the line even in case of hard chucking as Stingray quickly gets back its composure. Micra Active, in comparison, feels quite lazy in getting back to rhythm as wider footprints trends to over-steer after a hard cornering move. Still both cars need the handling improvement to get anywhere closer to the segment benchmark that is still retained by the Maruti’s Swift.
Stingray: *****Micra Active: *****
Stingray price range stretches between Rs 4.10 lakh to Rs 4.67 lakh while Active version of Micra retails at between Rs 3.50 lakh to Rs4.79 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). This revised price has made the Micra Active ridiculously good value for money; a reason big enough to headlong and buy this large, spacious and city-friendly car. Nissan has played its price trump card exceptionally well with literally denouncing the competitors’ prices. Even we can’t deny the appeal of this value for money offers but then a more thorough scrutiny of the offer surfaces the glaring gaps in the whole proposition of Micra. For one, the heavy lack of quality and flair, unanimated engine and bland interiors makes this active version quite basic in nature that is only capable of transporting you from point A to Point B. Stingray on the other hand feels quite upmarket and the new cabin with lots of quality bits makes the whole car a more engaging and wholesome driving experience. In fact the feel-good factor that Stingray comes with is heavily lacked by Micra Active still the starting price point of Rs 3.5 lakh for a big car like Micra is too tempting to resist in totality.