Car reviews - Nissan - Micra - range
Styling, cruise control standardised, rorty three-pot performance, sharp steering, benign handling, improved interior quality
Room for improvement
Notchy manual gearshift, iffy seat trim quality, hard rear cushion, no lane-change indicators, poor rear headroom for taller folk
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22 Apr 2015
By TUNG NGUYEN
BYRON MATHOUDAKIS24/04/2015NISSAN’S changeable Micra has seen both highs and lows in equal measure in Australia.
With the 1983 K10 original denied to us, the British-built second-gen K11 from 1995 wowed critics with its cutting edge efficiency and design, yet high prices killed it within three years.
A decade later, and the stylish K12 carved a niche out as a quality Japanese light car, but its 1.4L auto spec put us to sleep. Then, in late 2010, the larger and cheaper K13 set value standards, although Nissan let its Micro hatch languish as newer and better rivals stepped up.
Now, the facelifted version of the K13, with a more striking nose, better quality dash and higher standard spec, is available for the same price as before. Win.
In every sense, buyers have never had it so good even the latest base Micra includes cruise control, six airbags, five seats, four power windows, a cracking three-cylinder engine, two armrests for the driver, and Bluetooth audio/phone streaming. What could we possibly complain about?Frankly, very little, especially if you take into account the good things that continue to make Nissan’s current little runabout so likeable – such as its sporty and spunky performance (particularly at the top-end of the rev range), eager yet composed steering, a flat handling attitude and absorbent ride quality. The K13’s chassis has always been a good thing.
Additionally, the changes that have occurred are all for the good, from the better-looking front-end and much more appealing centre console that loses the hideous circular motifs for a more upmarket squared-off appearance, to an excellent multimedia upgrade with excellent sound quality and a stupendously simple user interface.
And, don’t forget, cruise control is now standard, bolstering the Nissan’s safety and convenience, while throwing down a value gauntlet to other cars in the baby segment.
However, while that hard-charging 56kW/100Nm 1.2-litre three-pot engine punches frenetically, it sounds a little noisy and unrefined compared to newer and sweeter units of similar specification such as the one in the new Suzuki Celerio. The Micra’s manual gearshift mechanism feels hesitant and notchy, too, and there is quite a lot of road noise entering into the cabin.
When it comes to the interior, the blobby dashboard architecture remains dreary and ugly the seat-trim fitment quality on our ST test car raised a few eyebrows, appearing bunched-up (the Ti’s “Premium” material escapes this malady) the rear seat packaging suffers from limited headroom and an uncomfortable cushion and there are no triple-blink lane-change indicators.
In a word, then, the current Micra is ageing, despite the facelift (which, in actuality, was released overseas during 2013!).
But Nissan Australia should be commended for focussing on value (the Ti is $2000 cheaper, yet scores GPS and a rear-view camera), because at the bottom end of the market, a keen price, low running costs, high features and total reliability count for plenty.
Keeping this in mind, the fun-to-punt Micra definitely should be on every Micro segment buyer’s shopping list. It represents the latest chapter in a saga that – in 2015 – is 20 years in the making.
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