NISSAN MICRA REVIEW
VEHICLE STYLE: Five-door hatch
PRICE: $16,990 (plus on-road-costs)
Engine: 1.5 litre petrol, naturally aspirated in-line four cylinder
Outputs: 75kW @ 6000rpm / 136Nm @ 4000rpm
Transmission: Four-speed automatic
Official fuel efficiency: 6.6 l/100km
On test fuel efficiency: 7.6 l/100km
CO2 emissions: 156g/km
In its basic three-cylinder form, the 2011 Micra comes as a well-equipped price leader offering best-in-class dynamics.
But step up to the mid-spec Micra ST-L and you get an engine that belongs in a larger car. Team that with a four-speed automatic transmission and the Micra ST-L becomes an appealing fuss-free commuter solution.
- Quality: The Micra feels solid inside, and the curvy dash looks sharp. Plastic abounds, it's a light 'city' car after all, but it looks alright and tactile surfaces are fine.
- Comfort: A height-adjustable seat is a welcome addition and help makes up for a steering column that adjusts for rake but not reach. Seating front and rear is mostly comfortable although the front seats are a little short in the cushion, headroom is plentiful all-round.
- Equipment: Power windows front and rear, power mirrors, air-conditioning, single-CD stereo, 3.5mm aux-in, steering wheel audio controls, trip computer, Bluetooth and remote central locking are all standard fare for the Micra ST-L.
- Storage: Dual glove boxes with extra pockets in the dash and doors take care of small items. Boot space measures 251 litres with the rear seats up, and provides a deep, wide space.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: Where the smaller 1.2 litre engine can sometimes struggle, the larger 1.5 has plenty of urge right through the rev range. Even with the automatic, the Micra ST-L is a willing performer.
With a super-tight turning circle and light manoeuvrability, the Micra is a doddle to poke into city car-parks and through tight narrow streets.
- Refinement: There is a little road and wind noise evident, but no more than other cars in the Micra’s class. Because its never working too hard the engine remains hushed unless being pushed.
- Suspension: The Micra's suspension is quite soft though well damped, and takes the edge off potholes and speed humps well. It can be a little rolly through bends but handles choppy surfaces well.
- Braking: Initial bite is sensitive but the front dics brakes and rear drums work well having no trouble with the Micra’s low weight .
- ANCAP rating: Not tested by ANCAP (Euro NCAP 4 stars)
- Safety features: Six airbags are standard (front, front side and full-length curtain, while all seats are fitted with three-point seatbelts. ABS, EBD, brake assist, and Vehicle Stability Assist are standard across the range.
- Warranty: The 2011 Nissan Micra is sold with a three year/100,000km new car warranty.
- Service costs: Servicing costs are capped for the first 120,000km or six years. Before purchase contact your local Nissan dealer, as capped prices may vary.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Kia Rio 1.4 LX auto ($16,990) - Marginally more room to move, but ultimately lacking refinement from both engine and interior. Getting long in the tooth now too.
- Hyundai Getz S 5-door auto ($16.990) - Offers the same pros and cons as the Rio. Has proven reliable over time but there are better cars (the i20 is a very good drive). (see Getz reviews)
- Mitsubishi Colt ES auto ($17,740) - A little more expensive and also from the next vehicle class. The Micra 1.5 lines up well against the Colt for equipment and dynamics, but cannot match it for space.
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price, excluding dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Small and light, with a bigger engine than most, the Micra ST-L is a fun drive, and, most importantly, a cinch to wheel around the city.
Perhaps not the ultimate bargain – there are cheaper buys – but, on road, the Micra is at the head of the pack in the light car class.