Nissan's UK car assembly plant in Sunderland has started exporting its second model to Japan in the space of just 10 weeks.

In March, the Qashqai became the first Sunderland-built model in over a decade to be exported back to Nissan's home market and it has now been followed by the Micra C+C coupe-convertible.

Although Japanese motorists have been driving the hatchback version of the latest Micra since 2002 (launched in Japan under the long-standing March nameplate) this is their first opportunity to buy the car in coupe/convertible form.

The C+C's has a folding glass roof Nissan calls C-View, which raises and lowers automatically in 22 seconds.

Designed, engineered and manufactured in Britain, the C+C was first made in November 2005 following a GBP95m total project investment. Since then, around 23,000 have been exported to 45 markets world-wide.

The car marked the first on-site collaboration between Nissan and a supplier in the UK, with German specialists Karmann manufacturing the roof module next to the main production line.

The C+Cs bound for Japan will all be top specification models with 15" alloy wheels, in-dash 6 CD autochanger, keyless entry and leather upholstery. All will have the 1.6-litre petrol engine, and manual or automatic transmission.

Initially, around 1,500 cars will be shipped, with customer demand monitored once the car reaches Japanese showrooms in July.

Nissan's senior vice president, manufacturing Europe, Trevor Mann, said: "Coming so soon after Qashqai, this is great news for our plant.

"In March I was explaining how demanding the Japanese market is in relation to Qashqai export, so to have two of our products competing over there speaks volumes both about the quality of our employees, and the cars they produce.

"I think Japanese motorists will really appreciate the C+C. It's a very individual car with bags of character, it's highly manoeuvrable, fun to drive and the automatic glass roof is unique in its class."