Alfa Romeo
Land Rover
Nissan Micra City Collection
Mighty Micra
June 2008

AT FIRST glance, the little Nissan looked like it was going to be a tighter squeeze than a Jetstar flight.

The light hatch’s name _ Micra _ also was cause for apprehension.

Being a far from flexible 190cm, or six-foot-three in the old money, this road tester lives in constant fear of developing deep vein thrombosis.

Fortunately, the baby Nissan proved big on interior space. Despite its modest dimensions _ 3725mm long and 1530mm high _ the hatch is surprisingly roomy.

A wide opening driver’s door makes access a breeze.

Cleverly designed, the Micra accommodates four adults in comfort, with only the person stuck in the centre of the back seat having cause to whine.

There’s not much boot space though, but if you have more luggage than passengers the 60/40 split-fold rear bench can be flipped down to create an impressive 584-litres of space.

Micra is priced from $14,990, arriving with a range of standard features such as air conditioning, anti-lock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and brake assist, active front headrests, dual airbags, keyless entry and central locking, power adjustable mirrors and an MP3 compatible single slot in-dash CD player. There’s also an auxiliary MP3 input jack for easy access to Micra owners’ preferred play lists.

For an extra $1700, the Micra City Collection option package, as tested, adds dual side airbags and curtain airbags as well as 15-inch alloy wheels and 6-stacker CD sound system.

The Nissan comes up against some stylish contenders in the light class, including the Mazda2 Genki, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Getz.

In the looks department, it is probably the most unusual. Our family thought it was cute as a button with the kids dubbing it the “frog car’’ because of its distinctive bug-eyed lights.

Micra is also great fun to drive. A small but willing 1.4-litre engine pushes the Nissan along with the minimum of fuss and it cruises nicely at the highway speed limit.

The four-cylinder is mated to an electronically controlled 4-speed automatic transmission, which is smooth and responsive.

Micra is in its element in the city, cutting a swathe through the commuter traffic.

Speed sensitive electric power steering gives maximum assistance while parking and a tight 8.8m turning circle is a dream.

At higher speeds, the level of assistance declines in favour of increased feel. The result is a highly responsive car that is nippy around town and secure on the open road.

Ride is good, but because of its light 965kg frame, the hatch has a tendency to bounce around a bit when you hit bumpy sections of road.

Next to price, one of the Nissan’s great strengths is fuel economy. Our week-long test produced bowser-busting average consumption figures of 6.8 litres for every 100km covered.

Micra’s fashionable colour palette ranges from Roma Red to Tokyo Silver and London Rose.

Backed by its cheeky appearance, fun-to-drive nature, nimble handling and impressive levels of comfort, the baby hatch is sure to give its better-known rivals a run for their money.

The Micra may be little, but it’s big on appeal.


SEATS: 5 (four comfortably)

ENGINE: 1.4-litre, DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder

POWER: 72kW at 5600rpm

TORQUE: 137Nm at 3200rpm

TRANSMISSION: 4-speed automatic

WEIGHT: 965kg

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 6.8 litres/100km average, as tested

PROS: Price, room, economy

CONS: Noisy when pushed along, small boot

BOTTOM LINE: $16,990. Base model is $14,990