2004 MICRA R
Meet the Nissan Micra R, a 150 mph hot hatch that proves the new Micra really is quite unlike anything else on the road.
From bonnet to boot the R is unlike any Nissan Micra ever produced. For a start you won’t be able to lift the lid on its remarkable performance by looking under the bonnet; all you’ll see is a radiator and fuel tank. And you won’t be able to carry anything on the back seats or in the boot because that’s where a 265 bhp fully race-prepared engine sits.
While maintaining the distinct shape and friendly persona of the standard Micra, the R has the squat stance and purposeful poise of a sporting thoroughbred along with performance that matches its looks. There’s a 0-60 mph time of under five seconds and a top speed in excess of 150 mph.
Inside, the stripped racing car-style cockpit features sculpted Sabelt racing seats, five-point safety harnesses and the kind of touches you’d expect in any competition car such as a visible engine Electronic Control Unit, prominent fire extinguisher and hi-tech digital dash display.
But this is no Sunday fun car. It might be strictly a one-off, designed and built with performance driving in mind, but it can be everyday transport too. Chief designer Christopher Reitz added: "It’s very easy to build a £500,000 car if you’re doing everything from scratch. We wanted to do something that was a dream car but that you didn’t have to win the lottery to able to afford. Take the example of the Mini Cooper S in the Sixties. It was a successful competition car but it wasn’t too expensive if you wanted to own one."
Affordable it might be but one thing’s certain: it won’t just be hot-hatch owners who will be drooling with envy; the Micra R will give supercar drivers something to think about too. And Reitz would like to see it in competition as well. "I think it would be great to have a one-make series," he said. "If you provide cars that are all equal as well as safe and fun to drive the skill of the driver starts to become more important than it is in many areas of motorsport."
With the engine now sitting where the rear seats and fuel tank are usually located, RML has used all its experience to make the Micra R into a reliable and viable every day machine. To cool the engine, a radiator from an Almera 2.2 dCi has been slotted beneath the bonnet and cleverly the engineers have used the now redundant exhaust tunnels beneath the body to fit cooling ducts. Integrated with a touring car style aerodynamic ‘splitter’ at the front these ducts ensure that the engine can be fed with more than enough cool air to keep it performing at its peak.