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.

Geelong Advertiser - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE -

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.

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