2011 NISSAN MICRA REVIEW
VEHICLE STYLE: Five door hatch
PRICE: ST 1.2L $12,990 (auto $14,990), ST-L 1.5L $14,990 (auto $16,990)
Engines: 1.2 litre, 1.5 litre
Outputs: 56kW and 100Nm (1.2), 75kW and 136Nm (1.5)
Transmissions: 5 speed manual, 4 speed auto
Official fuel efficiency: 5.9 l/100km (1.2); 6.5 l/100km (1.5)
On test fuel efficiency: (not recorded)
CO2 emissions: 138g/km (1.2 litre); 153g/km (1.5 litre)
Great little car, the new Micra. We drove both the 1.5 litre automatic and 1.2 litre three-cylinder with five-speed manual.
And what a revelation that eager little 1.2 litre is. Perky, fun, nicely styled, five doors, good interior room and very sharply priced from $13,990 drive-away, lightweight city cars don’t come much better.
- Quality: The dashboard is a bit hollow sounding and plastics and trims throughout are light, but the fit is first class. It’s also funky and cheerful and just right for this kind of car.
- Comfort: Seats are ok, not generously padded and lacking a little lumbar support, but with a softish squab and neat dark fabrics. Rear seat passengers get sliding headrests and generous head and knee-room.
- Equipment: Standard features include Bluetooth connectivity, drive computer (with anniversary and birthday reminder), air-con, power front windows, remote entry, AM/FM, CD (and MP3), aux-in, tilt steering and follow-me-home headlights.
- Storage: It’s a little car, but the five doors and high rear roofline give it good accessibility and interior space. The 250 litre boot too is ample for the weekly shop or the fun weekend away.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: A class-leading supple suspension (one that would put many larger cars to shame) and the tightest of turning circles – you can spin this thing effortlessly through narrow city lanes – make the Micra the perfect city car.
- Refinement: Again a surprise. The 1.5 litre is the more refined, but the motorcycle-type ‘thrum’ of the 1.2 three cylinder has its own appeal. Each is relatively quiet with little road noise evident at city speeds.
- Suspension: The ‘long-travel’ feel to the Micra’s suspension is quite simply class leading, isolating even the worst of surfaces. There are a few thumping noises over cobblestones and broken tarmac, but the ride remains comfortable.
- Braking: Disc brakes are fitted all-round. With VDC standard across the range (vehicle dynamic control including ABS and stability control), panic stops in the lightweight Micra have it pulling up in a heartbeat.
- On-road: Both 1.2 litre and 1.5 litre can be specified with manual or auto. The 1.2 manual offers an involving and lively feel. The auto takes some of the edge off the 1.2, but the 1.5 auto is very sprightly. The 4.5 metre turning circle is astonishingly tight, offering good vision all round and the overhangs are very short.
SAFETY | RATING: N/A
- ANCAP rating: Not Tested
- Safety features: Six airbags (front, side and full curtain), three-point seatbelts, ABS, EBD, stability and traction control.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: three year/100,000km, with three year 24 hour roadside assistance.
- Service costs: Costs to be confirmed.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Barina Spark: The Barina Spark has ignited interest in Holden’s smallest contender. It has youthful funky lines and a $12,490 (plus on roads) price. But it’s missing the option of the auto. For this, the advantage is with Micra. (Click for Barina Spark reviews)
- Hyundai i20: The i20 is similarly equipped to the Micra and with perhaps a more robust feel to the interior. But, from $14,490 (plus), it’s a good whack more expensive. (Click for i20 reviews)
- Suzuki Alto: Suzuki is building terrific cars and the $12,490 (plus) Alto is one of them. Head-to-head though, the Micra has the edge. It’s got more room inside, a better interior, a more supple suspension and refined feel. (Click for Alto reviews)
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Some cars get it right. Nissan’s new Micra is one of them.
Good style, five doors, a choice of two eager engines, and well featured at a killer $12,990 starting price ($13,990 driveaway), it’s going to sell itself.
If you’re in the market for a lightweight city car, Nissan’s hip new Micra is the best buy of the moment.