The Nissan Micra was awarded two stars for protection in the frontal- and the side-impact tests. However, with just a little improvement in performance, the car would have been moved up into the three-star category. In the frontal-impact crash test, the Micra failed to meet the new criteria for the left knee impact and for protection of the right lower leg. Under side-impact conditions, it failed to meet the abdomen requirements. On the other hand, the car did meet the requirements that relate to the degree of steering wheel displacement. In the frontal-impact crash test, the Nissan Micra's major problems related to intrusion, particularly at knee and footwell level, although the passenger compartment did remain stable. Improvements in safety performance are also needed in the knee-impact area. For the side impact, improved protection is required for the abdomen while care is taken not to transmit too much loading to the chest or pelvis.
In the frontal impact, the Micra suffered moderate structural deformation, and the passenger compartment maintained its stability. There was good control of steering wheel intrusion – the wheel moved back into the cabin by 60mm – but the test results showed there to be an excessive intrusion of the footwell. The driver's door failed to transmit loads effectively, allowing a moderate collapse of the door aperture and also intrusion of the facia. After the test, the driver's door could not be opened – even with extreme hand force – and tools had to be used. The passenger door opened normally.
The driver's head protection was good and the head's contact on the airbag was stable. Neck protection was also found to be good. Seat belt loading of the chest was measured as adequate but this was downrated to a score of marginal because of the intrusion of the facia. The left knee impacted on the steering column cover, bent the column adjuster and then hit the rigid steering column and its mounting bracket. The dummy's right knee hit the car's facia and pushed it on to a tube supporting the steering column, distorting a bracket which was mounted to it. For both knees, there were stiff structures which could concentrate loads on part of the knee and further penetration into the facia would have resulted in sharply increased loads. The right knee would also have received greater loading if it had impacted the facia in a slightly different position horizontally. The left knee protection was poor on the basis of dummy instrumentation and could not be downrated, but the right knee was downrated to weak to account for these points. The excessive footwell intrusion led to poor protection ratings for the right lower leg and for feet and ankles. Protection of the left lower leg was rated as marginal.
On the front passenger side of the car, the Micra's protection of the head, neck, upper and lower legs and feet was good. Seat belt loading resulted in the chest protection being adequate.
Protection from injury in the abdomen area was poor under side-impact conditions because of excessive loads which were put on the body. The degree of head protection afforded by the Nissan Micra was found to be good, while the protection offered to the chest and pelvis areas was rated as adequate.
There was a warning label on the Micra which advised against the use of a rearward-facing child restraint in the front seat, even though the car was not fitted with a passenger airbag. A forward-facing Romer King child seat was fitted, as recommended by Nissan for use in the rear seat of the car. The forward movement of the child seat during the frontal impact test was poorly controlled and there was found to be insufficient restraint of the child's upper body, allowing a large forward movement of the head. During the side-impact tests, the lateral movement of the child restraint was found to be poor, with the upper part of the restraint moving nearly to the mid line of the car. Under these conditions he child's head then moved well beyond the sides of the child restraint.
Child head impact
Three of the six test points gave better-than-average protection. Poorer areas on the bonnet were above the battery, a metal bracket on the air intake and a suspension turret.
Upper leg impact
Two test points gave better-than-average protection. Poorer protection was provided at the location of the bonnet latch.
Adult head impact
One out of three test points gave better-than-average protection. The two poorer areas were on the scuttle panel ahead of the windscreen and on the bonnet above the hinge.
Two of the test points provided protection better than that required for proposed legislation. These were at the centre of the bumper and in line with the inside edge of the headlight. The third test point which gave worse-than-average protection was on the bumper in line with the towing eye.