Under the Micra-scope
The little Nissan does its chores and stands up to any scrutiny
The car industry’s mantra of recent times of squeezing more from less was certainly Nissan’s aim when it developed the three-cylinder K13 Micra. Such engines have always been looked on as unworthy, bought by those who couldn’t afford a proper one.
But in this age of massive change, three-cylinders are pulling their
weight by doing the work once done by fours, and Nissan was hoping to boost its business substantially here on that basis.
The Thai-made K13 was longer, wider, lower and lighter than the outgoing model. It also brought with it two engines, two transmissions and three trim levels to choose from. Gone was the love-it-orloathe-it look of the older model. The new car was softer and more pleasing to the eye.
The base ST came with the three-cylinder engine while the ST-L and Ti had the fourcylinder. The transmission options for all were a five-speed manual or a four-speed auto (a regular auto rather than a trendy but occasionally troublesome CVT or twin-clutch).
For its size, the cabin was reasonably spacious for the time, but squeezing three into the back was a taxing trick.
The Micra sat nicely on the road, its firmish suspension handling speed bumps, corrugations and potholes competently.
The three-cylinder engine did the job around town and was quite smooth and quiet. Out of town, it had to work a little harder and got noisier, with a little coarseness intruding.
It’s a different story with the four, which was willing across the rev range and had enough zest to handle overtaking comfortably.
Common to all three models were electronic stability control, ABS, emergency brake assistance and electronic brakeforce distribution, and front and side airbags.
Micra owners are generally a happy lot, content with their cars, and the trade echoes their sentiments.
Some older drivers express concern about a lack of outward vision so drivers who fall into that category should check the sight angles when test-driving a potential purchase.
Mechanics say the little Nissan is solidly built and the only regular work needed on them to date is the regular servicing recommended by Nissan. Nothing of consequence has so far gone wrong with them and the mechanics generally give them the tick of approval.
Anyone buying a Micra second hand should focus on the general condition of the car— look at the state of the bodywork and the alloy wheels if fitted.
They should certainly look at the logbook to verify that the factory-recommended servicing has been done.
It’s not outstanding in any way but does everything quite well.