Pint-sized and no pretence
It gains little respect from other road users, but the new Micra is still a winner in the city, PETER BARNWELL finds.
THE treatment you get from other road users in a tiddler-size car is at times atrocious. They run you off the road, don’t give way, tailgate and generally ignore your presence.
That’s what happened to us in the new Nissan Micra, recently upgraded with styling tweaks and equipment changes.
It’s a reason we would probably not buy one.
Then we went into the big city where parking is a major issue, room on the road is tight and speeds are snail’s pace. This is the natural environment of Micra — as a city runabout.
And guess what? When put to such applications, the little India-built Nissan is not half bad.
It will carry four adults in relative comfort, has five doors and a load space that will take a couple of medium suitcases and with the four-speed auto — the only transmission option on the Ti drive car — is easy as pie to handle in the city.
Couple to this a reasonably tight turning circle and decent fuel economy and you have the makings of a replacement for travelling on public transport.
The Micra costs $16,990 and faces some good competition in the new Mazda2, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio, Honda City and Skoda Fabia.
But its real competitors sizewise are the Mitsubishi Mirage, possibly the Fiat 500 and the Suzuki Celerio.
Which one would we pick? Hmm, too hard a question.
The Micra is relatively cheap on fuel, rated at 6.5 litres/100km. That came as quite a shock after our week in the new Camry Hybrid which recorded 5.1 and is twice the size and three times the power. But you won’t be clocking up big kays in your Micra if you stay in the city.
Power comes from a 1.2-litre three-pot petrol engine rated at 56kW/104Nm. The rationale behind this is that the low power output means low fuel consumption. But in the real world, you flog the Micra harder to get the performance you want and that consumes more (at times a lot more) fuel.
The engine is rather noisy and not that smooth but gets the job done. The way it rides and handles is pretty much irrelevant because it’s basically a moving inner city transport box. Reliability and low running costs are the most important issues here as well as safety, which rates five stars in the Micra.
Some handy kit finds its way into the Ti, including cruise control, power windows, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, 5.8-inch touch screen controller, aircon, reverse camera, LED lights and auto headlights.
The interior is a sea of hard plastic. It looks OK and is functional enough.
We reckon people who buy this sort of car deserve some slack, particularly at rego time. A Micra has negligible impact on a city driving environment because it occupies minimal space, makes minimal noise, uses minimal fuel and costs minimal to run.