BUYING cheap doesn’t have to mean buying nasty this year. Nissan proves it with the all-new Micra, which starts at $ 12,990. That’s the basic 1.2-litre threecylinder ST, while the 1.5-litre ST-L starts from $ 14,990; and the `` luxury’’ 1.5 Ti, with such tricks as automatic airconditioning and push-button start to reversing radar and alloys, is from $ 16,990. Adding a fourspeed automatic puts $ 2000 on the bill. The 1.2 is the real mover because it will be the starter car for a lot of young people in Australia, but it could also become popular as a city runabout for older folk. right stuff, including engines for 91-octane Even the ST comes with airconditioning, electric front windows, Bluetooth connection, CD/ iPod audio and — most electronic stability control and ABS with brake assist. There is enough space in the back seat and boot, but it is nothing special for the class, unless you measure it against the even-cheaper $ 11,700 starting price. The black cabin plastic is very cheap- Unfortunately, one of the fun features — a lift-up based in the front-passenger seat that is great for storage — is only on the Ti. Then again, Nissan does call it `` the handbag carrier’’. like the door handles — and it’s not what we would expect in a Nissan. The Micra is a fairly basic package and typical for the class, except for the baby engine. But even that’s not so strange. Three-cylinder engines have been on the Charade in the 1980s, and more are on the way with Fiat having a two-cylinder car engine in production and even BMW
is looking to three-cylinder units. The 1.2 has a different sound and feel, with a syncopated beat. Audi quattro engine, it’s a good feeling. It can get a little buzzy, but its prime role as a commuter means people won’t be likely to push to the limit. Six airbags as standard make the right statement about safety. The Micra also gets electronic stability control and ABS with brake assist, so it’s the maximum package for this size and safety rating from NCAP and that’s one short of the top rung. The new Micra is not as funky-looking as balance in corners, stops well and has a slight manual gearbox. that means it will be a great starter car. It goes well enough with two people, but struggles a little if you load the back seat, which is a little cramped for adult leg room. Considering the price and class, though, all-round package.