The Nissan Micra is a car that has faded from memory since its Australian release in the mid ‘90s. The English-built hatch was well up to the standard of its contemporary competition but, for some reason, it never really took off.
And certainly not like Aaron X’s example takes off!
You’re looking at a turbocharged Nissan Micra that runs down the quarter mile in just 14 seconds. Betcha didn’t see that one coming!
Aaron got hooked on the little Nissan hatch after driving his mother’s four-door SLX model. He got plenty of fun out of this car and decided to invest in a set of aftermarket wheels and upgraded suspension. So when it came time to buy a car for himself, the decision was already made – he wanted the top-line Micra Super S. The three-door Super S features sports bumpers with fog lights, full colour-coding, sportier seats, alloy wheels and ABS-controlled four-wheel disc brakes (lesser models come with a drum brake rear). The 1.3 litre CG13DE engine remains the same as the rest of the Micra range.
Unfortunately, finding a Micra Super S is a bit of a challenge. The Micra never sold in big numbers – and the expensive Super S sold in very small numbers. Finally, Aaron found this example in a car yard with 140,000km on the odometer and in good overall condition.
After securing his Super S, Aaron swiped the aftermarket wheels and suspension from his mother’s Micra SLX. Aaron also took the opportunity to further develop the suspension by installing everything on offer in the Whiteline catalogue. You’ll find front and rear swaybars (adjustable at the rear), an anti-lift castor kit, adjustable rear trailing arms, front camber bolts, front tower brace, 40mm lowered springs with a shortened bump-stop kit and Koni adjustable dampers. In short, there’s everything that’s needed to make a little hatch fly around corners.
Aaron says the standard Micra brakes look like they’re designed for a shopping trolley so he made the switch to Pulsar N14 1.6 litre front brakes. These are a bolt-on conversion and, while he was at it, Aaron elected to upgrade to RDA slotted discs (which are designed for the Pulsar). Bendix pads are fitted front and rear.
But what about the engine?
By this time, Aaron had installed a 2 ½ inch stainless exhaust with a Magnaflow high-flow cat and 5Zigen rear muffler. Exhaust backpressure was virtually zero but, still, Aaron wanted a substantial amount more grunt.
Aaron was now well and truly accepted within the Micra web community and, after much online discussion, he hooked up with a mechanical engineer with experience in one-off turbo conversions. It didn’t take long for Aaron to decide a turbo was the way to go.
The trusted turbo installation guru fabricated a tubular turbo manifold from steam pipe and routed the necessary oil and water lines. Aaron says there’s a fitting on the front of the engine that was the perfect turbo oil pick-up – it’s like Nissan wanted a turbocharger to be mounted nearby...
With an ex-S13 Nissan T25G turbocharger mounted under the bonnet, an entirely new intake was constructed. The intake to the compressor comprises a K&N pod filter, while post-compressor induction air is chilled by an ex-MR2 4A-GZE air-to-air intercooler.
The conversion is polished off with mandrel bent intercooler plumbing, a GFB Atomic boost valve and thermo warp on the turbo manifold and dump pipe.
Aaron took an unconventional approach with the engine management and fuel delivery.
Interestingly, the standard Micra uses a hot-wire airflow meter which is integrated into the throttle body. Aaron carefully removed the airflow meter section and fitted it into a new aluminium housing that was introduced between the air filter and turbo. Next, he added a GReddy e-Manage piggy-back computer to take charge of fuel and ignition.
The fuel system has been upgraded with a custom fuel rail that feeds a set of ex-S13 SR20DET injectors. The fuel pressure regulator and fuel pump remain standard – and, yes, mixtures remain safe at all times.
But this set-up didn’t last very long. While tuning the e-Manage with 10 psi of boost, the standard engine spat the dummy and released a monster cloud of white smoke. Aaron says the mixtures were fine and there was no detonation at the time of the failure - but that didn’t change the fact that a new engine was required...
Aaron sourced a low kilometre Japanese import engine, swapped over the turbo system and decided to invest in a stand-alone programmable management system. An EMS Stinger ECU was wired in and, because it runs MAP load sensing, the airflow meter was removed from the pre-turbo intake and an untouched Micra throttle body/airflow meter was fitted to the intake manifold. The airflow meter section serves no purpose at present.
With proper control over fuel and ignition, the Micra really came alive. Its previous best 15.57 second ET tumbled to just 14.85 seconds. This was achieved on 7.5 psi boost - high boost pressure is out of the question given the engine’s stock internals.
This turbo-fed performance soon trashed the standard clutch so Aaron fitted a heavy-duty Exedy/Daikin job. There have since been no troubles and the standard 5-speed gearbox and axles are surviving without any sign of protest.
Visually, Aaron’s Micra Super S has a street smart look – but there’s nothing to suggest its level of performance. The ANZ Rio 15 inch rims with 195/50 rubber, crystal-look headlights, clear side indicators and lowered stance make an effective statement without being over the top.
Inside, there’s a similar theme. The sports-spec Super S trim is enhanced with a Momo Race steering wheel, an AutoMeter boost gauge and a ChipTorque shift light which triggers the airbag warning light (the warning light was previously unused as the car wasn’t fitted with an airbag). The lame factory sound system is also replaced with a Kenwood CD/tuner head unit, three-channel Blaupunkt amplifier, VDO 6 ½ inch splits, Pioneer rears and a Blaupunkt 10 inch sub. More than enough to blow out the Micra’s windows!
With a 14 second pass under his belt, Aaron is quite happy with the performance of his Micra. But there is a threat looming on the horizon – his girlfriend’s Japanese import Honda CRX SiR (VTEC) has run a 15.2 ET with only cold air induction. She’s keen to catch up but, then, Aaron says he can probably squeeze in a little bit more boost if needed!
Whatever happens, this is already by f-a-r the quickest Nissan Micra we’ve seen in Australia!