OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Nissan's brand new Micra C+C – the latest contender in chic Coupe/Convertible market- offers more than most. As well as providing fresh air motoring at the touch of a button and a hardtop for when things get cooler, Micra C+C is the only car in its class with the panoramic C-VIEW glass roof: enjoy the elements no matter what the weather's doing.
'Chic, elegant and modern, the Micra C+C adds a new dimension to the Micra family. Not only does it provide all the style of a convertible, it remains practical with seating in the rear and a sizeable boot. With Micra C+C, owning a convertible need no longer be a compromise.'
Carlos Tavares, Executive Vice President, Product Planning and Corporate Strategy, Nissan Motor LimitedAt a glance
- Coupe style, convertible panache
- Panoramic C-VIEW glass roof with sun blinds
- 2+2 seating
- 1.4- and new 1.6-litre engine options
- 22 seconds to lower roof
- Class leading luggage space
- Únique production process
- Built in the ÚK at Europe's most efficient plant
Nissan is ready to open the latest chapter in the Micra success story. Thanks to its clever folding hardtop, the Micra C+C allows owners the best of both worlds: fresh air when the weather allows and coupe protection when it's inclement.C-VIEW roof
But Micra C+C introduces another ingredient to the mix, one that's unique in its class - the C-VIEW roof is all glass, so the elements can be enjoyed 365 days of the year.
First shown as a styling exercise at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, the production Micra C+C remains remarkably faithful to that original concept. In the interim three years, an intensive development, engineering and production programme has been undertaken jointly with convertible specialists Karmann of Germany. The aim: to ensure none of the style of the show car has been lost nor none of the integrity of the Micra's structure has been compromised by the removal of the roof. (British Pounds)150 million investment
Representing an investment of (British Pounds)150 million, Micra C+C is built at Nissan's award-winning plant at Sunderland where the innovative folding glass roof is produced in an equally innovative fashion. For the first time at Nissan, an outside supplier – Karmann – has established a ‘factory-within-the-factory' to fabricate the roof on site.Lower and longer
Úndeniably elegant, the Micra C+C is lower and longer than the hatchback Micra. The roof line, dictated by the steeply raked windscreen, is 99mm lower than on the hatchback while Micra C+C is 72mm longer overall: the extra length is all to the rear of the car where it provides the extra room needed to stow the hardtop behind the rear seats.
The C-VIEW hardtop itself is a work of art. It takes just 22 seconds to fold clamshell-style beneath the double-hinged trunk lid: it opens rearwards when the roof is raised or lowered and conventionally to stow luggage. Auto-Open Roof
Development work has also focused on ensuring Micra C+C is as user-friendly as possible. As a result, raising or lowering the roof requires no more than a push on a single button – an automatic latching system does away with the need to lock or unlock manually the roof's leading edge to the windscreen header rail. The system has been named Auto-Open Roof. Furthermore, the roof can be raised or lowered with the vehicle on the move, at speeds of up to 5 km/h.Class-leading luggage space
But as well as having stunning looks, Micra C+C remains resolutely practical, enjoying class leading luggage space. With the roof lowered, the boot area provides 255 litres of stowage space, which rises to an impressive 457 litres when the roof is raised. To ensure that any luggage stowed in the boot doesn't interfere with the roof when folded, a retractable blind in the boot area must be latched into place before the roof can be lowered.
As well as having the largest boot in its class, Micra C+C's cabin has a myriad of clever storage areas, most of which are lockable allowing valuables to be left in an unattended car even when the roof is down.Engine choice
Micra C+C is available with either the recently enhanced 65kW (88hp) 1.4-litre petrol engine or the newly developed 81kW (110hp) 1.6-litre 16 valve twin cam petrol unit as found in the potent new Micra 160SR. Mechanically, the chassis follows the familiar MacPherson strut/torsion beam suspension layout of the Micra hatchback, fine-tuned to suit the special characteristics of the Micra C+C.
'The beauty of the Micra C+C lies in its elegant C-VIEW glass hardtop. Mica C+C is the only coupe/convertible in its class to have this feature, which allows the owner to enjoy the feeling of open air motoring at all times no matter how the weather is behaving,' said Makota Yamane, Studio Chief Designer, Nissan Design Europe.CREATING MICRA C+C
It might look virtually identical to the concept that appeared three years ago at the Paris Motor Show, but the production Micra C+C is a quite different machine. Its launch marks the end of an intensive development programme and represents a couple of firsts for Nissan in Europe: Micra C+C is the company's first convertible built in Europe and it is Nissan's first collaboration with Karmann.
'Turning an existing hatchback into a coupe/convertible is not a simple matter of cutting off the roof. Creating Micra C+C has involved teams of engineers from Nissan and Karmann working side-by-side for thousands of man hours to ensure the car not only met, but also exceeded our quality demands.'
Motoyoshi Hanaoka, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Nissan Technical Centre Europe.At a glance
- Project driven by reaction to C+C show car
- Visually similar but structurally different to concept
- Joint collaboration between Nissan and Karmann
- Extensive platform strengthening for rigidity
- Hardtop chosen over fabric roof
- New production techniques pioneered
According to Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, arguably the world's leading convertible specialists, cutting the roof off a car leads to a loss in structural stiffness of up to 80 per cent. This loss of strength not only affects the way a car handles, but it affects its long-term durability and greatly reduces its effectiveness in a crash.C+C concept shown at Paris
Such matters need not concern the designers of show cars, of course. The Micra C+C shown at the Paris Motor Show in 2002 was created by taking a three door Micra hatchback and removing everything above its waistline. The stylish two-piece retractable hardtop and opening rear deck could be raised and lowered, of course, but that was all that was needed for a car destined for a life as a motor show model. The original Micra C+C was never – and could never – be driven.Positive public reaction
Styled in-house at Nissan Design Europe, the purpose of that original C+C was to gauge public reaction and to see if there's was a potential market for such a car. So overwhelmingly positive was that reaction that even before the show closed, plans had begun to turn the concept into reality.
Realising that it was vital to get the car to market as quickly as possible if that initial public vote of confidence was not to be wasted, Nissan turned to German firm Karmann for development help. As a result, the production Micra C+C is an entirely European project.Karmann's expertise
At that time, Karmann was already deep into the development phase of the current Megane Coupe Cabriolet from Alliance partner Renault and it was felt lessons learned on that project might apply equally well to the Micra.
In a frontal impact more than 40 per cent of crash energy is dissipated via the roof, with almost 45 per cent via the sills and the remaining 15 per cent through the car's waistline. With no roof, a convertible has just two load paths: the sills and waistline, with the sills absorbing 66 per cent of the crash energy.Strengthened platform
Úsing advanced Finite Element Analysis and Modelling, Karmann strengthened the Micra's basic platform so that it could meet the required levels of crash resistance, handling integrity and levels of refinement. Principal changes include reprofiled and strengthened A-pillars, stiffened side sills and new cross members under the floor – essentially everything in front of the A-pillars is as found on every Micra… but everything behind is either new or has been extensively modified.Diagonal brace
In addition, a torsion wall running the width of the car was fitted behind the rear seats and a strengthening cross member added within the instrument panel. The structure was further bolstered by the addition of an elongated X-shaped diagonal brace under the floor towards the rear of the car.
Developed by Karmann and further refined by engineers at Nissan Technical Centre Europe (NTCE) at Cranfield in the ÚK, the brace provided not only extra stiffness for better crash performance and improved handling but also added to the ride comfort and general refinement of the car.Dynamic damper
To counter ‘header shake' – the vibration of the windscreen header rail found in so many convertibles and identified by shaking of the rear view mirror – a dynamic damper was added to the rear of the car. This simple addition reduced the lateral acceleration of the A-pillar by a remarkable 20 per cent.
At all critical points, in particular the sills and door pillars, thicker high strength steel was used while a steel pin was incorporated into the A-pillar which, in the event of a frontal impact, prevents the door from flying opening. Resin assembly
Construction of the car was also refined with sheet metal glued as well as spot welded: as well as providing extra strength to the assembly, the use of resin in the assembly process has a dampening effect reducing levels of noise, vibration and harshness.
At the same time as the structure of the Micra C+C was being developed, so Karmann was also refining the folding hardtop. There are two basic routes that can be taken to develop a convertible roof: a conventional folding fabric assembly or a steel retractable hardtop. Appreciating that the Micra's natural habit is the city where fabric roofs are vulnerable to vandals and opportunist thieves, Nissan chose the retractable hardtop route.Two-piece roof
And once that decision had been made, there were further choices to be made: two-piece or three-piece. The advantage of a three-piece roof is that it is more compact when folded which permits a similarly compact trunk, but there are considerable weight, complexity and sealing issues. By adopting a two-piece roof for Micra C+C, Nissan not only avoided such problems but also provided customers with the real bonus of a practical luggage area – the largest in its class.Glass panels
There was one further refinement to be added into the mix. Although the original show car had a metal roof, following the lead set by Karmann and Renault with the Megane, Micra C+C's roof has glass panels. As well as enhancing still further the visual appeal of the car, the C-VIEW glass roof eliminates any possibility of cockpit claustrophobia and allows the elements to be enjoyed even in the depths of winter. And in a heatwave, thermal insulation and retractable sunblinds prevent the interior over heating.
Although Karmann was able to speed development of C+C's roof thanks to past experience with similar roof packages, each project has its own unique set of problems to be overcome. In C+C's case, thanks to its large trunk cover, effective sealing of the luggage area became a top priority. Water leak tests
In the very early stages of development, a Micra C+C was put through a water leak test. An engineer stepped into the boot of the car armed with a torch to check for water ingress during the test.
He didn't need the torch, emerging from the deluge of tropical storm proportions looking as if he had been for a swim as the boot area filled with water. It was back to the drawing board… with the result that the production Micra C+C has absolutely no such problems
Despite losing the roof and rear hatchback, the additional strengthening work has added 110kg to the basic weight of the Micra's body-in-white – a figure typical for hardtop coupe/convertibles in its class.
Just as critical to the development of Micra C+C is the way it's built. From the outset it was determined that C+C would be built at Nissan Motor Manufacturing ÚK (NMÚK) along the same line as the conventional Micra. In such a case, industry convention sees the roof preassembled by a supplier and shipped to the factory. New production process
But fine build tolerances are so crucial to the integrity of a convertible that Nissan chose a new production method. Rather than building the roof in Germany and supplying it as a finished package to NMÚK, Karmann has established a production facility within Nissan's Sunderland plant. This allows the steel elements of the roof to be painted alongside the vehicle for which it is ultimately destined, thus ensuring a perfect paint match, while having the Karmann facility on site ensures those tolerances – and thus the C+C's inherent quality – can be easily met.
'Developing the Micra C+C has been a unique challenge for us. We have been delighted with our collaboration with Karmann and we feel both companies have gained from the experience,' says Colin Dodge, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing, Purchasing and SCM, Nissan Europe.STYLE AND PRACTICALITY
Roof up or down, Micra C+C remains resolutely stylish. But it's a Nissan and that means it is also user-friendly and practical at the same time: it's where chic meets sensible and where fun meets functional. Micra C+C is a car for everyday of the year, whether the sun is shining or not.
'By combining all the best loved features of the Nissan Micra – its distinctive style and especially its practicality – and adding a hardtop convertible, Micra C+C appeals to both the head to the heart.'
Saturo Tai, Vice President, Nissan Design EuropeAt a glance
- All European project
- Longer and lower than Micra hatchback
- Auto-Open Roof
- C-VIEW glass roof
- 2+2 seating
- Class leading boot space
When the stylish Nissan Micra C+C concept car appeared at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, its individual lines and neat folding hardtop found immediate favour with visitors to the Show.
Taking its chassis and power cues from the Micra has endowed C+C with one of the best combinations of sharp handling and refined comfort in its class. C+C sees the second appearance of Nissan's advanced low friction 1.6-litre twin cam – it was first seen in the 160SR.
'Micra C+C not only looks the part, but it drives the part, too. Excellent handling, good ride comfort and refinement plus the ease of driving for which Micra is renowned, mean C+C is equally at home in the city as it is on the open road.'
Motoyoshi Hanaoka, Senior Vice President, Research and Development, Nissan Technical Centre EuropeAt a glance
- Based on acclaimed Micra chassis
- 1.4- and 1.6-litre petrol engine options
- Strong levels of refinement
- Excellent handling and roadholding
- Full chassis safety package
Únder its skin, Micra C+C shares its chassis and drivetrain with other Micras. That means its sure-footed chassis features MacPherson strut front suspension and an effective torsion beam rear axle, while engine options embrace Nissan's familiar 1.4-litre and new 1.6-litre petrol engines.
The front suspension features a sub-frame mounted strut-type system with combined suspension upright/coil spring assemblies and a forward lower link. The front anti-roll bar is attached directly to the strut assembly for more effective control of body roll under cornering. The sub-frame uses compliant rubber mounts to isolate road noise and vibration from the platform, improving both general refinement and ride comfort.
At the rear, the torsion beam/trailing arm suspension system features separate coil springs and damper units to ensure minimal intrusion into the boot space.
The trailing arm bushes are tilted horizontally to optimise passive rear steer characteristics, while keeping the number of mounting points to a minimum reduces the potential for noise and vibration intrusion into the cabin. The beam design and the location of the damper units reduce friction in the rear suspension system to enhance ride comfort.
Changes to the basic suspension set-up needed to account for C+C's extra weight have been minor, and are restricted to revised spring and damper rates and thicker anti-roll bars front and rear.
High levels of refinement are matched by exemplary handling and roadholding, ensuring Micra C+C is fun to drive. Excellent straight line stability is thanks to the high castor angle at the front while 15-inch or 16-inch wheels shod with 175/60 or 185/50R profile tyres respectively enhance levels of grip.
Micra C+C's electrically assisted speed sensing power steering (EPS) is a state-of-the-art system that has many benefits in terms of driving pleasure, ease of driving and lowered running costs.
Offering greater assistance at lower speeds, EPS gradually reduces levels of assistance as speeds rise. Úsing the vehicle's CAN Bus communication network, the system checks speed inputs every 40 milliseconds and is speed sensitive to 0.01 km/h. The entire system is tuned specifically for European tastes to give a strong self-centring action at lower engine speeds for easier town driving and greater damping at higher speeds.
Micra C+C has an anti-lock brake system (ABS) as standard, complete with Brake Assist and Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD). Brake Assist maintains maximum deceleration during an emergency stop even if the driver has reduced pedal effort while EBD constantly alters the front to rear brake balance to achieve optimum brake performance, automatically compensating for differing load conditions.
Added security is available comes from the advanced Electronic Stability Programme (ESP). Úsing sensors linked to the brakes, steering, wheels and the body itself, ESP constantly monitors the way the car is being driven. A steering angle sensor and brake pressure sensor monitor the angle and attitude of the front wheels and the brakes, while yaw and lateral G sensor determine the car's slip angle.
Once set limits have been transgressed, ESP uses the brakes and the engine management system to slow the car and bring it back under control, greatly enhancing the car's stability and safety.
The 1.4-litre Micra C+C is powered by a 1,386 cc version of the CR engine, developing 65 kW (88PS) with a peak torque figure of 128 Nm at 3,200 rpm.
This gives it highly competitive performance and economy figures. Top speed is 176 km/h (109 mph) with 0-100 km/h (62 mph) acceleration taking 12.8 seconds. Combined cycle fuel economy is 6.6 l/100km (42.8 mpg) with 158 g/km of CO2 emissions.
An all-aluminium, Euro IV compliant, 16-valve twin cam unit, it features Nissan's Variable Valve Timing control system, and a 'Drive-by-Wire' electronic throttle, while extensive use of low friction moving parts and lightweight pistons improve not only the levels of noise, vibration and harshness but also fuel consumption.
Variable Valve Timing has two main gains. Torque is improved to boost in-gear acceleration and therefore driving pleasure, and emissions performance is boosted.
The use of a drive-by-wire throttle optimises throttle control giving better response, smoothness and flexibility. The system also permits full integration with electronic aids such as the Electronic Stability Programme (ESP).
Other significant features include the use of a single stage 'super-silent' timing chain system for improved NVH and greater reliability and longer inlet manifolds for improved torque.
Powering the top of the range C+C 1.6 is Nissan's new light-weight, low friction, 1.6-litre twin cam as first seen in the Micra 160SR. Developing 81kW (110hp) and 153Nm of torque, the all-aluminium design is notably lighter than similar capacity units from rival manufacturers and is some 25kg lighter than Nissan's existing QG 1.6 engine, as used in the Primera.
Motor racing techniques have been adopted to reduce by mechanical friction by as much as 30 per cent compared to the QG unit. Of the total reduction, one third is attributable to a new machining method that ensures truly circular bores: this procedure is common practice in the machining of bores of racing engines but is seldom used in volume production engines.
A ‘dummy head' jig, which is shaped to include a simulated head gasket, is affixed onto the block exerting ‘virtual as-assembled' axial torque on the through-bolts; bores are then machined in this rigid state.
The result allows halving of piston ring tension, greatly reducing sliding resistance which, in turn, translates into lower friction. Other features that lead to this reduction in mechanical friction include super-fine ‘mirror finished' crankshaft big ends.
In addition to low friction technology, the 1.6-litre unit has continuously variable valve timing, multi-point injection and efficient front intake/rear exhaust packaging, to provide best in class performance, impressive fuel economy and quiet running. Strong performance
Complementing its top speed potential of 191 km/h (119 mph) is a 0-100 km/h (62 mph) time of just 10.6 secs. The fuel economy story is just as strong, the C+C 1.6 returning 6.7 l/100km (42.1 mpg) on the combined cycle while oil change services are needed only every 30,000 kms (approximately 18,500 miles).
'Micra has earned itself a strong reputation as a fine handling car with good performance.' says Brian Carolin, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Nissan Europe. 'Micra C+C, therefore, has no better starting point when it comes to the driving experience.'FÚLL TO OVERFLOWING
From its one-touch Auto-Open Roof to its sophisticated Intelligent Key, Micra C+C is crammed with clever features… but these are far from gimmicks. Before it appears in C+C, a standard feature or optional extra has to satisfy one criterion: does it make life easier for the driver. If it does, then it's included.
'Micra C+C is one of the most highly equipped cars regardless of class. It has standard features found only as extras on cars costing far more… if they are available at all.'
Brian Carolin, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Nissan EuropeAt a glance
- One touch Auto-Open roof
- Intelligent Key
- Adaptive Audio System
- Full safety features
One of the stand-out elements of the Micra hatchback was the availability of clever, state-of-the-art technology more usually found in larger, more expensive cars. Items such as Intelligent Key and Friendly Lighting introduced innovative, user-friendly features designed to be both purposeful and easy to use.
Micra C+C makes use of these features and adds some of its own, not least the Auto-Open roof. Its fully automatic operation raises and lowers the C-VIEW roof simply by pressing and holding a button on the centre console. Taking just 22 seconds to lower - and a few seconds more to raise - it couldn't be easier. There's no latch or handle on the windscreen head rail to be manhandled, nor does the car have to be fully stopped first.
Listening to music on the move is often compromised in a convertible with the roof lowered. Not in Micra C+C. A bespoke premium audio system is available. This incorporates an adaptive speed dependent volume control that can differentiate between the roof being open or closed. With the roof closed, there's a potential rise in overall volume of 8 dB, but with the roof lowered the system compensates for the extra external noise with a possible increase in volume of 12 dB.
The sound system, which is linked to a dashboard-mounted six disc CD autochanger, also incorporates a Dynamic Sound Processor (DSP) which can alter the sound quality of the system to suit the music being played. The six speaker set-up includes two bass speakers designed to provide sub-woofer effects. As with other Micras, controls for the hi-fi are duplicated on the steering wheel.
And, naturally, Micra C+C features the Intelligent Key system. Developed specifically for the Micra, Intelligent Key replaces a conventional key with a small wireless transmitter in the shape of a key fob. This can be kept permanently in a pocket, briefcase or handbag.
When it is within 80 cm of the car, its presence is detected and the door or tailgate can be opened simply by pushing a button on the handle. To ease the opening of the tailgate still further, the rear door has an electric opener. Once the button is pressed, the tailgate automatically unlatches and can be lifted to open.
So long as the key is somewhere in the cabin, starting the engine is simply a matter of turning a switch on the steering column with the brake pedal pressed – at no time does the driver need to find the key to press a button on the key fob, or insert a key into a lock.
The transmitter can be programmed in one of two modes: convenience and security. When in convenience mode, the proximity of the Intelligent Key allows any door to be opened by pushing the button on the handle.
In security mode, however, only the driver's door can be opened to prevent unauthorised entry to the car via one of the other doors. If the driver is satisfied that there is no threat of hijack, pressing the button twice unlocks all the doors.
To turn the engine off, the ignition switch on the steering column is turned anti clockwise and the steering security lock is set by pressing a button. Once the doors are all closed, they are locked by pushing the button on the handle: confirmation that the car is secure comes with a flash of the hazard warning lights.
Should the transmitter battery fail, the key fob itself houses an emergency metal key which can be inserted in the locks to open and close the doors and start the engine.
Another feature is Battery Save. If the interior lights are left on by mistake once the car is parked and the engine switched off, Battery Save will monitor the situation. If no passenger action is detected, the lights will be switched off after a set time.
As well as the type of air conditioning supplied when the roof is lowered, Micra C+C has a fully automatic climate control system. Two easy-to-use push button controls are housed in the middle of the dashboard below the audio system offering full automatic control with manual over-ride.
As on revised Micras, C+C's trip computer sits between the dials in the new look instrument panel. Operation is possible via the steering wheel controls. The computer's functions encompass clock, outside air temperature, A and B trip meters, journey time, average speed, fuel consumption and range. It also houses a service interval indicator and, a new feature, an oil level indicator.
All models are equipped with twin driver and passenger airbags plus thorax side airbags mounted in the front seats, offering extra protection for the front passengers in a side impact. The front passenger airbag can be deactivated to enable a rear facing child seat to be used. An audible driver's seatbelt reminder on all models is a further useful safety measure.
The Micra's passive safety story is completed with pre-tensioner equipped seatbelts to eliminate any slack in the seat belt at the moment of impact. The pre-tensioner uses a sensor to determine the speed of deceleration – and therefore the severity of the crash – to trigger a pyrotechnic gas generator, which rewinds the seat belt retractor to tighten the belt. Both rear seats have three point harnesses.
As well as standard anti-lock brakes with brake assist and electronic brake force distribution, Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) is also available.
Environmental concerns go beyond exhaust emissions and Micra C+C was developed with the EÚ's End of Vehicle Life directive in mind. As a result some
95 per cent of the car is recyclable and dismantling of the vehicle has been made easier and quicker by, for example, reducing the number of fixing screws used in trim assembly.
There are three versions of the Micra C+C available, Tekna 1.4, Tekna 1.6 and Tekna Plus 1.6. All have the C-VIEW roof, trip computer, white-faced instruments, leather wrapped steering wheel and side airbags as standard as well as new sports seats. The Tekna 1.6 adds 15-inch alloy wheels and fog lamps to the mix. ESP is standard on certain markets.
The range topping Tekna Plus features leather seats aluminum pedals and. Intelligent Key is also standard as are 11-spoke dark 16' alloy wheels, while ESP is, once again, standard on certain markets.
'Our research has shown that while some features on rival products score highly in the showroom, they are seldom used once the car is taken home. All the standard or optional features on Micra C+C will be used, simply because they are user friendly and have genuine practical benefits,' Pierre Loing, General Manager, Product Planning and Strategy, Nissan Europe.
While the overall European car market remains largely static, niche markets are growing. With the arrival of the Micra C+C, Nissan is perfectly placed to take advantage of one of the most dynamic markets of all: the compact convertible.
'Micra C+C will compete in a very competitive sector of the market, but it has many advantages over its rivals, not least in having a retractable glass hardtop rather than fabric roof and in having two occasional seats in the rear. The fact that it has the largest luggage capacity in its class is another bonus.'
Brian Carolin, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Nissan EuropeAt a glance
- Convertible sales rising in an otherwise static market
- Retractable hardtops set to dominate market
- Hardtop answers typical convertible complaints
- Micra C+C set to gain conquest sales
The compact convertible is a fairly recent phenomenon, but in a short time has come to account for a significant market share. And sales are expected to grow each year until well into the next decade. Rising market
At the turn of the millennium, sales in Europe were around the 40,000 mark, but just three years later this figure had grown to 100,000. By 2006, it is expected to reach 150,000 units a year, with as much as 70 per cent of that total being accounted for by retractable hardtops rather than the conventional fabric roof.
And that gives a genuine fillip to the new Nissan Micra C+C. Únlike all but one of its direct rivals, the Micra C+C combines the practicality of 2+2 seats and a retractable hardtop: rivals have either a vandal-attracting soft-top or just two seats… or both.Conquest sales
As a new model in the Nissan range, it is expected that the stylish Micra C+C will appeal strongly to buyers who have never contemplated a Nissan before. Market research indicates that half of all C+C owners will be aged between 26-45 and the Micra will not be the only car in the household.
Nissan also spoke at length to existing owners of small convertibles, and found that the most often heard complaint related to the quality of the roof, most notably in terms of water ingress and wind noise, with squeaks and rattles following close behind.No compromises
One of the inherent qualities of a retractable hard top is that structure is more solid than a fabric-roofed convertible, thus reducing squeaks and rattles at the same time as ensuring wind noise and leaks are eliminated.
'Micra C+C is a style statement and will undoubtedly appeal on an emotional level. But it is also an immensely practical car and can be considered on a rational level. It's not often a convertible can satisfy the needs of both the head and heart, but the Micra C+C is the exception that proves the rule,' says Satoru Tai, Vice President, Nissan Design Europe.BÚILDING MICRA C+C
The innovative C-VIEW folding glass roof of Micra C+C is being produced in an equally innovative fashion – at a factory within a factory at Nissan's highly productive plant in the North East of England.
'To ensure Micra C+C attains the highest possible quality standards we are working closely with our supplier Karmann… so close, in fact, that we can literally rub shoulders with them at the plant.'
Colin Dodge, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing, Purchasing and SCM, Nissan Europe At a glance
- Micra C+C built on same lines as Micra
- Karmann's ‘factory-within-a-factory'
- Roofs painted and assembled on site
- Sunderland: 21 years of achievement
- Europe's most productive plant
- Future guaranteed with two new models
Micra C+C is built at Nissan Motor Manufacturing ÚK (NMÚK), the company's highly productive plant in Sunderland in England's North East, on the same lines that produce the conventional Micra three and five door hatchbacks. Major change
But the Micra C+C project marks a major change in the way NMÚK operates. For the first time at Nissan, an outside supplier has established a ‘factory-within-the-factory' to fabricate the car's central feature – the C-VIEW roof – on site.
German convertible specialist, Karmann, has not only developed the clever folding glass roof for Micra C+C, but also assembles the roof module in Sunderland prior to its fitment on the production line.Quality control
Dr Christian Rennert, Key Account Manager, International Markets for Wilhelm Karmann GmbH, explains: 'Although the complex roof assembly was developed by Karmann in Germany, production of the production module will be undertaken in Sunderland for reasons of quality control and speed of manufacture.'
'We have established a small production facility within the Nissan plant where we are running two shifts a day and employing up to 50 local men and woman.'
'This is the first time Karmann has established such a facility within a manufacturer's plant and we will be monitoring its success with a view to establishing similar facilities elsewhere.'Painted on site
All the metal elements of Micra C+C's roof frame are painted with the car by NMÚK before being separated and sent to the Karmann facility. Here the roof's glass panels are bonded into the frame and assembled as a complete module before being reunited with the original car.
This process is similar to the way in which car doors are produced: in virtually every car plant, the bare door frames are painted with the car before being removed to a separate facility where trim, glass, electrical features, wiring and locks are added. The completed doors are then returned to the production line where they are attached to the relevant car.Production synchronicity
'By assembling the roof modules in this way, we can ensure synchronicity with Micra assembly as well as ensuring colour matching is perfect and quality remains as high as possible,' says Dr Rennert.
Trevor Mann, Deputy Managing Director at NMÚK, adds: 'We welcome Karmann to Sunderland for two main reasons. The first, obviously, is down to the vital contribution they are making towards the production of Micra C+C.'NIMS
'The second is that their integration on site marks the first of such collaborations at Sunderland, but it won't be the last. As part of the Nissan Integrated Management System (NIMS) we are actively talking to other suppliers within NMÚK with a view to integrating production and to ensure we maintain the highest quality levels into the future.'
NMÚK celebrates its 21st birthday in 2005. However, it all started from a proposal by Nissan to build a new car plant in the North East of England which was agreed with the British Government in 1984.
Just two years later the first car for commercial sale – a Nissan Bluebird – rolled off the production line to mark the start of a remarkable success story. Half million milestone
In 1990, the Bluebird was replaced by the original Primera and in 1992 the milestone half-millionth car was built. At the same time the plant in Sunderland opened a second production line, for the then current Micra.
Over the next decade NMÚK really hit its stride, producing record numbers of cars and winning award after award for export achievements. By 1995, it had built one million cars and one million engines while five years later a third production line – this time for the Almera – was opened.Most productive plant
In 2003, the year in which Sunderland built a record 331,924 vehicles, NMÚK was identified as the most productive plant in Europe… for the seventh successive year.
Last year, 2004, a total of 319,652 vehicles were built comprising more than 53,500 Primeras, more than 93,350 Almeras and almost 172,800 Micras. Some 75 per cent of that production was built for export by a force of approximately 4,450 workers.ÚK's biggest car exporter
Representing a total investment to date of more than (British Pounds)3 billion, NMÚK has been the ÚK's biggest car exporter for five years and accounts for 20 per cent of the country's total car production.Busy future
Alongside existing models, Nissan has announced that the facility will build the Note and the production version of Qashqai show car, which was shown at Geneva Motor Show in 2004. Production of the former is due to start in January 2006 and of the latter in December 2006.Source - Nissan