2011 NISSAN MICRA REVIEW
Nissan's new 2011 Micra is one of the cheapest ways to get into a new car. But with six airbags, ABS and stability control, it’s not lacking for safety features.
It is also inexpensive to own and run, thanks to a choice of frugal engines and transmissions - a 1.5 litre four and the 1.2 litre three cylinder tested here.
And it’s a bit of fun to drive.
- Quality: Although built ‘light’, it seems well put-together and is not bad inside, though there's plenty of hard plastic about.
- Comfort: The front seats give good support and cushioning, although the steering wheel only adjusts for rake, not reach. Driver’s seat height adjustment is also welcome.
Headroom is good both front and rear; rear legroom is also surprisingly good. The back bench, however, is too firm and flat.
- Equipment: The base Micra ST gets power front windows, power-adjustable mirrors, air-conditioning, a single-CD stereo system with good audio quality (but no USB input – only a 3.5mm audio jack), steering wheel audio controls, trip computer, Bluetooth phone integration and central locking.
- Storage: There are plenty of storage nooks up front, along with three cupholders. The boot measures 251 litres with the 60/40 split rear seats up, and the hatch aperture is nice and wide.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: The engine can take some coaxing to perform, but given plenty of revs the Micra can keep up with highway traffic. It lacks urge when loaded, but for general commuting there's adequate power.
- Refinement: Lightweight bodywork and minimal sound insulation means there's plenty of road and wind noise, as is usual within the budget light-car category.
Some drivetrain whine makes its way into the cabin though, and the gearshift action is notchy.
- Suspension: The Micra's suspension is soft and well-damped, and soaks up speedbumps and potholes. There's lots of body-roll when cornering, but ample grip.
The power steering is light and well-weighted. The Micra's nine-metre turning circle makes easy work of tight streets and crowded carparks.
- Braking: Front discs with rear drums, and with only 900-odd kilos to stop, the brakes work very well indeed, but the pedal is a little sensitive.
- ANCAP rating: (Not yet tested by ANCAP)
- 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 Nissan's Vehicle Stability Assist are standard across the range.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- 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
- Holden Barina Spark CD ($12,490) - The funky Spark comes with more standard equipment, but lacks the Micra’s space, the seats are thinly padded, the 1.2 litre engine is weak and the back seat difficult to get into. (see Barina Spark reviews)
- Suzuki Alto GLX ($12,490) - Its light weight and competent chassis make the Alto fun to drive, but back seats are tight. (see Alto reviews)
- Proton S16 GX ($12,990 drive away) - The S16 has a proper boot and more powerful 1.6 litre engine, but lacks crucial standard safety equipment like a passenger front airbag and ABS.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Nimble, easy to manoeuvre and well equipped with standard safety features, the Micra is sensible buying for a first car or city run-about.
It's compact, easy to park, spacious, economical and powerful enough for the daily grind.
We think it's a cut above any other light car at its price point and a proper bargain at $12,990.