2017 Nissan Micra Review: Small Cars Need Not Be Boring
The Micra has four doors – five if you count the hatch. It seats four in comfort – five if you’re in a pinch. There’s space in the hatch for a large piece of luggage and a couple smaller items. Surprisingly enough, it’s even peppy, chirping the front tires off the line if you get it just right. Nissan’s smallest car also has Canada’s lowest starting price, and delivers on more fronts than you’d expect.
The wee machine even has some impressive motorsport cred to its name thanks to the manufacturer-created spec-racing series, the Nissan Micra Cup. The series is in its third season this year, and serves as a testament to how tough the little car can be.
- Fun to drive. While the logical part of my brain wants to scoff at the notion that this budget hatch is anything but cheap motoring, my senses disagree. There’s no sport mode and no paddle shifters, but you don’t need them. Even in this four-speed automatic transmission-equipped tester, I’m all smiles. Nissan's tuned the transmission for power delivery as much as it has fuel economy. If you really want to have fun though, order it with the five speed stick shift, it'll also save you $1,000. The Micra's 109 horsepower is just enough to get you buzzing past slow moving traffic, but never enough to really get into a lot of trouble. The steering is quick and responsive enough – sure, it’s not a sports car, but it’s not priced like one either. The brakes bite hard, though the pedal is a touch on the soft side.
- Functionality. It’s a hatchback. Need I say more? The trunk’s just big enough for my medium-sized Labrador/Alaskan Malamute mix. Folding the rear seats will open up a lot more space, but the loading floor isn’t flat. On the outside, the Micra’s got a small footprint, making it ideal for squeezing into tiny parking spots and zipping through traffic; plus it looks so unintimidating – dare I say, cute – that other drivers don’t seem to get upset when you do.
- So much value. It’s not just about being the cheapest car in Canada. Sure, for $9,988 you get a great little car, but it lacks all the convenience of a modern car. The Micra I get excited about is the mid-tier model, the SV trim. Bluetooth connectivity for your phone, power windows and door locks, air conditioning, and a host of other small niceties make the $14,048 Micra SV the car worth having. For those who want more flair, the $16,188 Micra SR trim offers up 16-inch aluminum wheels, side sill and rear spoilers, fog lights, rear-view camera, and more.
- Three years. That’s how long you should own the new Micra for. For three years, the car’s covered by a bumper-to-bumper warranty, and includes roadside assistance. All you’ll pay for are wearables such as oil changes and brakes. As of this writing, you can lease a 2017 Micra SV with five-speed manual transmission at $242 per month for 36 months, taxes and fees included. In three years, get another new Micra. Easy.
- Feels the price. It’s inexpensive, and some bits of the car feel cheap. Hard plastics in the cabin are prone to scuffs. The exterior paint is the thinnest I’ve seen on a production car, as stone chips expose bare metal underneath. If you plan on owning a Micra for the long haul, get it rust-proofed annually.
- Not really cheap. The $9,988 Micra is a gimmick. Unless you want absolutely bare bones transport – no air conditioning even – this base trim is a little too basic. See the point above about the Micra SV, which equates to a 40 percent increase in price over the base model. That’s a hard pill to swallow if you came in looking at sub-$10k.
- Connectivity. SV and SR Micras have Bluetooth phone connectivity, but only for calling functions. Users who want to stream music from their phones will need an audio cable for S and SV cars, while the SR trim gets a USB input. Also, a small niggle, but important issue, but Nissan if you’re reading this: the microphone in the roof needs to be insulated better against outside noise. Callers on the other end reported it getting incredibly loud at highway speeds.
Photos: Kanishka Sonnadara / Motor1 Canada