The cost of owning a new car has certainly climbed in recent years, but for thrifty buyers, there’s still a model with a sticker price of under $10,500 – the Nissan Micra.
The Mexican-built Micra, which is not sold in the US, is small and light and offers excellent fuel economy and “better than expected” performance. Despite its low price, this Nissan was designed to handle Canadian winters and apart from various standard cold-weather features, has rear heating ducts to keep passengers back there warm in the harsh conditions many regions experience. The car has always been a strong seller in Quebec, an acknowledgement of these chilly weather attributes.
The Micra is offered in three trim and equipment levels, S, SV and SR. Even the top version is far from expensive and as you go up the grades, the equipment level climbs accordingly, right up to sport headlights and rear lighting, sport seats, a rear roof spoiler and alloy wheels.
One way in which Nissan has been promoting the Micra is with its Micra Cup race series. A season long competition, now in its fifth year, features highly competitive racing in identical Micras. Unfortunately, we don’t get the series at a western Canadian track, but you can catch it on one of the TV sports channels. The Micra Cup underlines one feature that all owners are impressed with – the car is great fun to drive.
Micra power is provided by a 1.6-litre twin cam 4-cylinder engine developing 109-horsepower. Five-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmissions are available but not right through the range. Only the base model is available with a manual gearbox. The little power unit provides responsive and even peppy performance and the suspension is nicely matched to the car’s capabilities. Expectedly, the engine provides very good fuel economy.
The interior is roomier than expected given the compact styling of the car. The cloth-covered seats are comfortable for this class of car and Nissan has done a great job with the instruments and controls with large, easy-to-scan dials and controls that don’t require any stretching on the part of the driver.
Apart from being entertaining to drive, the car is practical too with easy access to the rear load area and the ability to create more cargo space by folding the rear seatbacks down. Thanks to its diminutive size, the Micra is very easy to park around urban streets and this is aided by a standard rear view monitor. On the safety front, the little car seems to have all the attributes of a larger and costlier sedan with an impressive roster of technology.
Among car buyers, there seems to be an ongoing friendly argument as to whether an inexpensive internal combustion (IC) engined car is a better value (and environment) proposition than an electric vehicle. Cars like the Micra certainly make a case for IC power in a compact package, though if you do prefer the EV route, Nissan will be happy to sell you a Leaf dedicated electric hatchback.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Subcompact 4-door hatchback
ENGINE: 1.6-litre twin cam 4-cylinder 109 hp
TRANSMISSION: Manual and auto available
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in approx. 9-secs
FUEL ECONOMY:7.5/8-litres/100 km combined
PRICE: From $10,488 MSRP