My son is not quite 15 months old and I’m already becoming nostalgic. I’ve caught myself watching videos of him when he was four, eight and even 12 months old almost tear-y eyed. He’s growing up so fast and I already miss the days when he was nothing more than a newborn.
I’m beginning to feel the same way about the Micra. Nissan’s subcompact car returned to Canadian soil three years ago and she and I’ve had wonderful times together. And as the days, weeks and months go by, I know and realize that it’s future is uncertain. How much longer will we get the 4th generation Micra while the latest 5th gen car has been on sale elsewhere in the world for nearly nine months already? Will we get the 5th gen car? Will it be as fun as the current Micra?
I don’t think I’ve ever missed out on an opportunity to drive it since it’s been available. In fact, I first drove one in California nearly five years ago where I immediately fell for the little thing. This past week has been bitter-sweet, remembering the good times, a scary moment or two (at the race track) and contemplating the future and how it’s likely I may not get the chance to drive a new Micra again…
The Micra’s demise is far from confirmed. However, Nissan’s current serious and chiseled design direction, as seen in the new Qashqai and LEAF is ways off from our Micra’s jovial, almost goofy stance.
I try not to use “cute” to describe the car’s styling but I just did… I can’t help it; the oversized headlights, short hood, kind of large wheels and it’s tall and bubbly to boot. The car’s outlook changes drastically once it dons its racing colours and grows a whole new attitude. Love the Micra Cup Series!
The cabin is sparse with lots of hard plastics but if it’s plain and simple ergonomics you’re looking for, you’ll be very pleased.
It’s no secret that the subcompact Micra is quite the opposite of its 3-row 7-passenger Pathfinder showroom-mate. Four adults will find space aboard, especially for legs and head. Elbow and shoulder room are tight especially in the rear. Speaking of such a place, the trunk’s volume is on the lower side of the average subcompact hatchback but remains decent.
The seats are soft, mainly up front. They are comfortable for short distances but might turn out to be short on support for the long haul. There are just enough storage spots for a few items. Essentially, the door bins save the day as the moment the cupholders are in use, there are no other options other than the glove compartment.
This is a $9,998 car. A $9,998 brand new, fully warranted automobile complete with that new-car smell, a heater, steering wheel, engine and transmission, radio and working wipers. What more do you really need?
To note, if you’re shopping for an automatic transmission, a 4-speeder in this case, the price shoots up to $13,698. The autobox includes A/C and cruise control with steering wheel mounted controls. The $14,048 5-speed manual SV includes power windows, door locks, two extra speakers, a driver’s seat armrest and air conditioning. All of this is unnecessary fluff as all they really do is add weight to our racecar. There’s also a fancy-schmancy SR with its flashy 16” wheels, fog lights and rear spoiler for $16,188.
The Nissan Micra S is “simplified with added lightness”, to slightly twist the words of one Colin Chapman.
Tipping the scale at seven stones over 1,000 kg, the Micra is a featherweight by today’s standards. This explains why the 4-cylinder 1.6-litre’s 109 horsepower and 107 lb.-ft. of torque are more than enough for fun times. The 5-speed manual is light but requires dexterity in first when coming off the clutch; the engine bogs under the weight of the flywheel and/or gearing if the amount of throttle is not exactly right. 2nd gear catches for the same reasons. Once this is mastered, you’ll be constantly rowing through just because.
Once under way, it’s nearly impossible when merging onto a highway to not keep the right foot off the floor. The mill makes maximum torque at 4,400 rpm and horsepower at 6,600 rpm. When engine revs are high, so is the pleasure quotient. And despite driving it like I stole (not all the time!), I still managed about 7.5L/100 km.
The car’s suspension is equally simple. Torsion beam at the rear, MacPherson struts up front. The Micra leans a fair amount even when not driven too hard. I enjoy this as it’s the car’s way to tell you that if things go wrong, that it’s on you. The ride is generally comfortable while steering and brakes are well dialed in.
Here is another car that I love. Small cars have a way of dancing their way close to my heart but of the sub- and compact cars, the Micra is one of the very few that knows the combination to my ticker. I can’t help being corny right now, I’m also thinking about my boy.