Nissan’s new Micra is a key model for dealers. JAMES BAGGOTT takes it for a spin
WHAT IS IT?
It’s one of the most important cars for Nissan dealers, that’s what. The Micra will account for 18,000 Nissan sales this year, behind only the crossovers Juke and Qashqai. The manufacturer believes some 70 per cent of buyers will be existing owners and hopes by sticking to a tried and tested formula – excellent value, easy to drive, and attractive specification – customers will be flowing through dealers’ doors.
WHAT’S UNDER THE BONNET?
Nissan is keen to keep the Micra range simple, so there’s just one engine available – a 1.2-litre petrol unit, with manual and auto gearbox options, starting at £9,250. In the summer this will be joined by a supercharged petrol engine that will emit just 95g/km, but there won’t ever be a diesel. The 1.2-litre produces 80bhp, 110Nm of torque and returns 56.5mpg while pumping out 115g/km.
WHAT’S THE SPEC LIKE?
In line with the simplicity philosophy, there are three options available to buyers: Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Nissan believes the best-seller will be the middle-spec Acenta which comes with climate control, trip computer, electric mirrors and radio/CD with Bluetooth. Top-of-the-range Tekna gets a parking system that can tell if a space is ‘easy’ to stop in, as well as panoramic glass roof, auto headlights and lots more.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE?
In a word: Easy. And when you consider the target market is 55-year- old, retired women that’s a major bonus. Steering is light, the gearbox soft, and the handling floaty – all ideal for the intended buyer. We did find the 1.2-litre sprightly for its size, but those three cylinders are noisy and unrefined in the higher rev ranges. Materials are a little cheap feeling, but the dash looks upmarket and it’s relatively comfortable.
WHAT DO THE PRESS THINK OF IT?
The Micra has had mixed reviews from the big consumer mags. What Car? said the Micra’s ride, handling, refinement and cabin quality weren’t ‘up to muster, even at this price’. Autocar, which tested the model in Thailand where some of them are built, liked the fact it was ‘light, nippy, refined and easy to manoeuvre’ while Auto Express reckons it’s ‘good value for money’.
WHAT DO WE THINK OF IT?
Well, it’s not our cup of tea, but then we’re not 55-year-old women. This car is aimed at our mums and if you put one of them in the driving seat they’d love it. The controls are light and easy to use, it’s great to drive around town and comfortable too. We found the cabin layout a bit fussy, but the fact it’s cheaper than all its main rivals to buy and the cost of ownership has been dramatically cut will do it a lot of favours. Another sales winner.
Model: Nissan Micra
Price: £9,250 (Visia), £12,350 (Tekna)
Engine: 1.2-litre, 3cyl petrol
Power: 80bhp, 110nm
Max speed: 106mph 0-60mph: 13.7s
MPG (comb’d): 56.5 emissions: 115g/km
Residual values (three years): 39 per cent
55-year-old women, retired, not well off, likes gardening, reading, travel. savvy when it comes to cash.
Toyota Yaris, Suzuki S
wift, Hyundai i20
KEY SELLING POINTS:
1. Better economy and lower Co2 have cut cost of ownership
2. Parking system has addressed buyers’ key concern – parking it!
3. Lower insurance group will save average buyer £300
It’s cheaper and, in most cases, better equipped than all its main rivals.