Nissan Micra: The Made To Measure Supermini
By Kyle Lindsay
Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 10:53
Europeans are getting taller, with the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries now officially among the biggest in the world. The average Dutch man today is 182.5 cm – exactly six feet tall. But not everyone is so ‘elevated’, as an average woman from Greece is only 160cm.
Such diversity presented a fascinating challenge to Nissan engineers developing the new Micra. Not only did they have to create a vehicle interior that would provide outstanding comfort for drivers and passengers of all heights, but do it in a supermini with an exterior length of only 3,999 mm.
The team at Nissan’s European Technical Centre (NTCE) – at Cranfield, UK – was clearly up to the challenge. The new Micra has class-leading interior space for front seat occupants, due in part to an innovative ‘made to measure’ approach.
Lee Griggs, Senior Engineer for Human Engineering, NTCE, explained: “It’s a very simple idea. We select NTCE colleagues of various sizes and take 40 different measurements from each of them, recording everything from height and sitting eye position to arm and leg length.”
Lee added: “It means we always have at least 200 real people we can call on at short notice to validate our latest ideas or changes. Of course, we have internal standards to work to, but real-world human feedback is every bit as vital.”
With the tallest NTCE employee being 200 cm (6 ft 7 ins) and the smallest being 152 cm (4 ft 11 ins), it’s a wide-ranging line-up that proved useful in creating the Micra’s spacious interior.
Lee continued: “Micra has best-in-class forward / rearward seat travel and a rake / reach-adjustable steering wheel as standard, so everyone can get comfortable.”
Early in the car’s development process, best-in-class comfort and adjustment for both tall and small drivers was identified as one of the key factors in ensuring the new Micra’s cabin would appeal to consumers down-sizing from bigger models.
Those drivers would also be looking for excellent design and use of quality materials in the cabin. So while Lee’s team was carefully considering different spinal shapes and limb lengths, Nissan designers were working to create a genuinely uplifting interior.
The result is a stunning ‘gliding wing’ dashboard shape with a touch-screen infotainment system standard on all but the entry level grade. Two-tone soft-touch dashboard materials are standard across the range, while striking cabin personalisation options are also available.
The Micra’s ergonomic interior has also boosted its safety credentials. For example, by using the latest High Definition cameras and eye-tracking technology during development, NTCE engineers were able to understand exactly which areas of the dashboard and instruments drivers were looking at, and for how long.
During the vehicle’s development this data helped to finalise the vehicle’s overall interior design. Benchmarking against rival vehicles means Nissan believes the new Micra has the lowest ‘eyes off the road’ time in the B-segment.
Coupled with the latest advanced safety technologies, the new Micra is one of the safest small cars on the road. Systems available on the car include Intelligent Lane Intervention, which subtly guides the car back to the centre of a lane, and Intelligent Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Detection.