Archive for October 2019

2019 Nissan Rogue SL AWD

Aging gracefully. Launched in 2014, the Rouge still looks modern

Overview

Nissan Rogue, aka X-Trail in some other markets, is the best-selling Nissan model in North America. It was first launched in 2007. The second and current generation was introduced in 2014 and got a mid-cycle update in 2017. Although the Rouge is still a best-seller, it is harder to stand out from the competition as the vibrant and very competitive SUV market has seen updated models recently such as the brand-new Toyota RAV and the Ford Escape.

The unmistakeably front fascia for all modern Nissans

Exterior / Interior

Nissan changed the exterior design of the Rogue significantly in 2017. Now it looks like the rest of the Nissan lineup. Most of the Rogue models come with halogen headlights unless you go with the higher trims. Rogue is one of the biggest crossovers in the compact segment and has an above-average interior space. The Rouge once offered an optional and very tight third row, which is not available anymore. The exterior design has aged well and still has a modern and fresh look.

Interior design, like the exterior, is not very exciting but functionally good. The Rogue has one of the smartest combinations of legroom and cargo area in its class. The second-row seats can also slide forward and backward so you can set up both cargo area and rear seats according to your needs. The dashboard has leather, soft-touch plastic and some hard-plastic at the bottom. It shares lots of parts with its smaller sister, the Qashqai. (See our test review)

The interior and dashboard are ergonomically well designed
The legroom in the rear is above class average

With 40 cubic feet of cargo space, it offers an above-average size in this segment. Also, when it comes to cargo practicality, Rogue is a strong contender. It offers dividers in the cargo area which you can utilize and put those dividers in different positions to get the most space out of it. Our tester was the top trim, which is called the “SV” that has a panoramic sunroof that allows more daylight inside the Rogue, but you must sacrifice a little bit of headroom in the rear seat.

With 40 cubic feet of cargo space, the Rouge offers an above-average size in this segment.

Engine & Drivetrain

Nissan Rogue comes with 2.5L Naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine which produces 170 hp and 175 lb-ft of torque. This engine is mated to a continuously variable transmission as well as an all-wheel-drive unless you go with the base trim, which is a front-wheel drive. Overall powerband falls a little bit behind the competition as most of them switched to the forced induction and provides way more torque in the mid-range. However, the engine is extremely smooth and “communicates” well with the CVT transmission. For those who are not convinced with the CVT reliability, Nissan doubled the warranty period, it comes with a 10-year 200.000 km warranty.

The 2.5L naturally aspirated 4-cylinder engine produces 170 horsepower and 175 lb-ft of torque. A turbo-charging engine at least in the upcoming generation would be a good option

Although the Rouge is not the fastest in this segment, it has a good fuel economy. During our test, the fuel consumption was around 9.0L / 100 km with about 75 percent highway and 25 percent city driving.  Of course, it uses front wheels only to move forward most of the time, as it is an on-demand all-wheel-drive system, but rear wheels can get involved when the car loses traction in the front. Overall, it is a super comfortable and smooth platform that you can enjoy it if you are not looking for a fast crossover. Obviously, there are better options in the market with more horsepower and torque and usually with turbocharging. We hope Nissan would also add a turbocharged engine option in the upcoming generation to make the Rogue more competitive in this class.

Overall driving impressions & features

Our tester with the top trim level had every feature that Nissan offers with the Rogue. Nissan ProAssist works really well and it is super easy to activate adaptive cruise control, which also fully stops and can move the car forward by clicking “+” button. The 7” touch-screen display is responsive, but the infotainment system looks dated. The SL trim also comes with LED headlights, built-in Navigation system, 7.0” touch-screen display, Voice Recognition, SiriusXM, Push-button start along with Intelligent Key System, Remote Engine Start, Blind Spot Monitoring, 360-camera parking assist, auto brake hold, 6-way power driver’s seat with 2-way power lumbar support, optional Bose Premium Audio system, and so on. Although our tester had the ProAssist, not all the trims have this safety feature and we think Nissan could do better as the competitors have been pretty aggressive bringing their latest active safety features down to every trim. Currently, it is just on the top trim with the Rogue.

Pricing and conclusion

Nissan Rogue is a strong contender in the crossover segment. It has been doing pretty good in this class, as sales numbers are still high. Remember, this was first launched in 2014 and still can keep up with the competition. However, as it gets older, it has some disadvantages, but if those are not important for you, it is a decent option with great pricing. It is comfortable, it offers great interior space, and super smooth-quiet driving experience and we believe it is one of the best bangs for the buck in its segment. The Rogue starts at $26,898 with the S trim and it can go all the way up to $37.698 if you choose the top SL Platinum trim. We believe you should go with at least SV trim, preferably the top trim as it is the only trim that offers Adaptive Cruise Control.

It is a good alternative if you are looking for:

+ Comfortable well-tuned suspension

+ Smooth Drivetrain

+ Large interior & cargo space

What can be improved?

– Needs forced induction engine, more torque, more power

– Adaptive cruise control should be available in all trims

Article and Pictures by Dan Gunay and Varol McKars

For more detailed and most up-to-date information, please visit: www.nissan.ca

2019 Nissan Micra S

Affordable and Fun

Fourth generation Micra was first released in 2010, but still looks fresh

We have been test-driving some expensive cars since 2010, but we are also aware that not everybody has the same budget. If you are looking for a commuter, or just a reliable car can take you to work, there are still decent options in the market. Nissan is one of the few manufacturers that offers affordable options for almost $10.000 CAD, called Micra. It is a global success story and there is a reason why it is so successful all over the world. It is affordable, good on gas, small enough you can drive around narrow European and Asian streets. It is one of the cheapest cars we have ever driven as a press car, but surprisingly it is really fun to drive.

Nissan Micra was first released in 1982 and it has been on the market ever since all around the world, with different names, and engine options. For instance, our tester is not the latest generation globally, as fifth-generation Micra is released in Europe in 2017. In Canada, we still get the fourth generation, which has been on the market since 2010. It is available in Canada since 2014 and recently underwent a facelift and it still looks fresh. Our tester is the S model, which only has absolute basic features to keep the price low.

Interesting fact: It is the most affordable race vehicle in Canada, called Micra Cup car. Micra Cup is a race series located in Ontario and Quebec. The drivetrain is exactly the same compared to the street-legal Micra, but there are some crucial suspension upgrades. The race-ready version of Nissan Micra comes with Racing Suspension Kit, 5-point harness, modified (probably straight-piped) exhaust, roll-cage, racing seat, track-oriented brake pads, and wheel/tire combo suitable for track racing. You need to purchase the Micra Cup car to be able to race in the Micra Cup which is around $20.000 CAD.

For more details, please go to https://www.micracup.com/main

Micra Cup Car has important changes for track racing

Engine and Drivetrain

Let’s start with the heart of Micra, as this is the most surprising part for us. It comes with 1.6 Liter 4 cylinder naturally aspirated engine, which produces 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque. These numbers may sound low, but the car is so lightweight that we would even say this is a quick car within the speed limits. The engine is tuned to have maximum torque in the low and mid-range, and more than enough to move this tiny car. Our tester comes with a manual transmission, and gear ratios are short. As a small car designed for narrow city roads, this is not surprising. We wish it had 6th gear, it revving almost 4000 rpm on the highway while you are driving at 120 km/h, so that means more engine noise and more fuel consumption. Speaking of fuel consumption, our tests show 8.5L / 100 km city, 6.5L / 100 km highway driving. Overall, it is extremely easy to drive and park it around the city as steering, clutch is soft and low turning radius (4.6 meters) helps in tight corners. It is not a highway cruiser by any means, but short trips are doable and can handle speeds over 100 km/h.

Nissan’s 1.6L 4-cylinder engine produces 109 HP and 107 lb-ft of torque

Driving Impressions

One of the first things we realized when we started driving the Micra is, it feels they shared some parts with its French-European partner Renault. This Micra platform was jointly developed by Nissan and Renault. Steering, shifter, clutch feels exactly driving like Renault Clio. This is definitely not a bad thing, as Clio is also very popular and known as a reliable compact hatchback in Europe, this is how Nissan keeps the costs low when manufacturing the Micra.

The suspension is tuned softly, as expected for a commuter/small hatchback. It isolates big bumps successfully. Not only that, but it is not making weird noises when isolating road imperfections, which is quite surprising for this price range. When you are pushing the Micra to its limits in the corner, it wants to understeer a lot. You can disable the stability control but not the traction control. However, the traction control is not too intrusive. Once you disable the stability control, TCS gets involved a few times and leaves you on your own.

Tiny 15″ wheels and Firestone tires are not good for spirited driving

One of the reasons why it easily understeers is the inner tire loses the traction quickly. So definitely not a corner carver by any means. If you like to drive your car spiritedly, you should be more careful and patient when turning at high speeds, as there are tons of body roll and it has higher center of gravity. Base trim Micra comes with tiny 15” wheels and Firestone tires, which are not helping for handling, too. However, comfort-wise, it definitely feels more expensive than its actual price.

Interior space is one of the best in its class

Overall interior materials aren’t the greatest, as you would expect from a small hatchback that costs almost $10.000 brand new. There are only hard plastics all around the dashboard, and door panels. The only soft-touch plastic is available in this car the steering wheel. There are also not many features, as this is the base trim. It only has absolutely basic features and whatever is required legally to have in a car. Computer trip, ABS, Traction Control, Front-Side and Curtain Airbags, Electronic Stability Program, Rear-view Camera, and a colored 7” screen which also has Bluetooth connection feature. Yes, there is no air conditioning, no power locks, no remote keyless entry, no electric windows or mirrors. You need to step up to SV trim to have those features. You immediately feel the 1990s vibe when you get inside the Micra S, and we enjoyed the experience of driving it. If you don’t need these features, then you can save a lot of money by choosing the S trim and still be safe, as safety features are exactly the same as the top trim. The only thing needs to be improved about this interior is the seat cloth quality. It feels really cheap, even for a car worth $10.000.

The interior space, legroom, and headroom is one of the best parts about the Micra, regardless of the trim you choose. It offers a larger cabin than the competition. We were able to sit in the back keeping the driving position of the front seat, and our knees were not touching to the seat (6’1″ height), it was close though. It would not be the best option for 4 passengers especially for long trips, but more than enough for daily driving.

It has surprisingly good rear legroom space
Trunk is really tiny and not that deep

Price & Conclusion

Long story short, Nissan offers one of the most affordable cars in Canada. It costs $10.488 if you choose manual transmission as of October 2019. Last year it was cheaper than $10.000 but they added rearview camera and 7″ screen which bumped the price around $500. If you want to get the automatic, which increased the price up to $14,298. Actually, it is a big bump, to be honest, but it also comes with air conditioning, as well as cruise control with steering wheel-mounted controls. If you want everything that is available in a Micra, you need to choose the SR trim, but it costs $17.598 + tax.

When we check the competition, there are a few important differences:

Toyota Yaris: It is a strong contender with proven reliability and good resale value, but it has significantly higher MSRP. In fact, you can get the Micra with Automatic transmission for the same price Yaris with the manual.
Mitsubishi Mirage: It is $500 more expensive than the Micra, and it has worse resale value, fewer cylinders & horsepower, significantly less interior space. However, it comes with a better warranty.
Chevrolet Spark: It is the only option in this class cheaper than the Micra ($9995) in 2019. However, it has a smaller engine with less horsepower, significantly less overall cargo space, legroom, and headroom.
Fiat 500: This is an iconic Fiat model that starts at $22.495. So you can literally get two Micra S for the price of one 500. Although they are in the same segment, their target market is completely different and not comparable to each other.

For the price, Nissan Micra is a strong contender in its class

Our overall takeaway from our Micra test drive is, some people just need to get from A to B. Nissan Micra with the S trim is a great alternative if you are that kind of person. This car is a great example that an affordable car can also be fun at the same time. Of course, you won’t find many features inside, but it offers the most interior space in this price range, as well as a comfortable ride and peppy engine which can easily get you around the city and some short-trips on the highway.

Some of our takeaways are

+ Good fuel economy

+ Price

+ Peppy engine characteristics

+ Suspension is tuned really well for this price range

Things can be improved

-It needs 6th gear, as gear ratios are short for better acceleration

-Seat cloth material feels cheap

For the most up-to-date and more detailed information, please visit http://www.nissan.ca

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay