What’s Hot: Improved value-for-money, more equipment, still drives quite well.
What’s Not: No improvements to driving experience, antiquated 4-speed auto.
X-FACTOR: It may be getting on in years now, but the Micra has a lot to offer those looking for a capable light city-hatch.
Vehicle Style: 5-door micro hatchback
Price: $13,490 to $16,990 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 56kW/104Nm 1.2 petrol 3cyl | 5sp manual or 4sp automatic
Fuel Economy claimed:
5.9 l/100km (manual), 6.5 l/100km (auto) | tested: 6.8 l/100km (auto)
The Nissan Micra doesn’t get much love these days.
But it should be doing better and Nissan is keen to rectify the situation.
So, the upgraded model sports a fresher look thanks to new bumpers, wheels and headlamps, and the spec sheet has been fattened up with new levels of standard equipment.
Importantly for an entry-level model like the Micra, the base model pricing is unchanged at $13,490. The Micra Ti is now $2000 cheaper too, though some equipment has been stripped out to get it there.
Meanwhile the mid-grade ST-L has been axed, simplifying choice for consumers and giving the Ti room to move down in price.
From a value-for-money perspective, the Micra is greatly improved.
- Cloth upholstery, trip computer, cruise control, power windows front and rear, electric mirrors, height-adjustable driver’s seat, USB audio input, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, 14” steel wheels (ST), 15-inch alloys (Ti), sat nav (Ti), reversing camera (Ti)
- Luggage space: 251 litres seats-up.
Plastic quality is generally good and the interior of the Indian-built Micra is certainly more appealing than the Mitsubishi Mirage. That said, after more than five years on the market, the Micra’s cabin is starting to show its age.
The centre console has been rejigged to house a more conventional audio headunit in the ST and a 5.8-inch colour satnav unit in the Ti, but besides that and some new air-vents, this is largely the same interior as before.
However, there’s now more gear.
Power rear windows are standard on the ST, along with cruise control (at last!), a USB audio input and factory-fit Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity.
Step into the Ti and the satnav screen is the most obvious upgrade, along with the rear-view camera (which, it must be said, looks like an afterthought given its placing on the hatch).
Some spec has been stripped out though, with the Ti losing climate control, a handbag holder integrated into the passenger seat, electric folding mirrors and reverse parking sensors.
The seating position is quite high, even though the driver’s seat features height adjustment.
The steering column only adjusts for rake and not reach too - something not unusual for this segment, but an annoyance nonetheless.
The back seat is roomy enough for a couple of adults, and getting in and out through the large rear doors is easy.
Even with a tall bloke in the front seat, leg and knee-room in the back is still more than acceptable.
ON THE ROAD
- 56kW/104Nm 1.2 litre naturally-aspirated petrol inline three
- Five-speed manual or four-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive
- MacPherson strut front, torsion beam rear suspension
- Front disc brakes, rear drum brakes
Nissan’s familiar HR12DE 1.2 litre three-cylinder continues to power the Micra, with 56kW and 104Nm being sent to the front wheels via either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic.
There’s nothing wrong with the engine itself - its numbers are certainly class competitive - but the transmissions are antiquated and each could use an extra ratio to improve driveability.
Around town though, the Micra doesn’t really put a foot wrong. In automatic guise it’s easy to drive (if not quick) and the suspension is neither firm nor floaty.
A nine-metre turning circle is also a definite plus for the Micra, especially when squeezing into tight carparks or down confined laneways.
ANCAP rating: 4-Stars - this model scored 31.11 out of 37 possible points.
Safety features: Stability control, traction control, ABS, EBD brake assist, six airbags and three-point seatbelts are standard across the Micra range.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Micra may not have undergone radical change, but the pricing and spec adjustments made by Nissan give it a new lease on life and boost its competitiveness.
It’s certainly a nicer car to be in now, thanks to factory-fitted Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and cruise control - all now viewed as must-haves by car buyers, even in the light car segment.
If you’re looking for mod-cons at a budget price, the Micra Ti will more than suffice. It may be entering its twilight years, but the little Micra still has some life left in it yet.
PRICING (Nissan's estimated drive-away pricing in brackets)
- Micra ST 5spd manual - $13,490 ($15,735)
- Micra ST 4spd automatic - $15,290 ($17,593)
- Micra Ti 4spd automatic - $16,990 ($19,344)