Nissan Micra is a small hatchback with the sort of cheeky styling that appeals to many. Aimed chiefly at being a city car, it nevertheless works fine on motorways, as well as country roads that are in decent condition.
Micra was sold in Australia in the mid 1990s but was too expensive, didn’t sell well and was later withdrawn. Nissan Micra reappeared downunder in December 2007 when an all-new model was introduced. More realistic prices and the aforementioned cheeky looks made it a success this time around.
Micra has very good interior space for a small car. Rear seat legroom is acceptable to most adults, although the sloping roof can cause hassles for taller passengers. It’s sold as a five-door hatch, in a market segment where many lower priced hatches only have three doors, so can be used as a family car if need be.
Usefulness is further improved by a rear seat that can slide back and forward to let you juggle passenger / luggage room. The rear seat backrests have a 60/40 split. This really is a remarkably usable small car and we can see many inner city dwellers never needing anything larger.
Nissan Micra is simple to drive thanks to excellent all-round visibility and a tight turning circle. The steering is light and responsive as the little Nissan is engineered to suit European drivers. The suspension is firm in a semi-sporting manner, but is comfortable enough for most tastes.
The 2007 Micra is powered by a 1.4-litre petrol engine that drives through a four-speed automatic so you don’t really get sparking performance. Top gear can be locked out if you are travelling on hilly and/or winding roads. There is no option of a manual gearbox in this Micra model.
October 2010 saw the introduction of an all-new Micra, styling took a similar theme, though some regard it as less conservative than in the 2007 iteration. This time around there was a choice of a 1.2-litre three-cylinder engine, or a 1.5-litre four-cylinder. A manual gearbox was offered for the first time, it has five forward ratios. The automatic transmission still only had four speeds.
Nissan Micra with the1.2 engine works fine around town, but you’re probably better off with the 1.5 if you plan touring in the country.
Nissan has been established in Australia since the 1960s, indeed it built cars in Melbourne for quite a while. There are plenty of dealers, including good representation in country areas due to Nissan’s strength in 4WDs. You may not find less-common spare parts for the little Micra in the bush, but these can generally be shipped out within a couple of working days.
Parts prices and servicing costs are reasonably low.
A good home mechanic can do quite a bit of their own work on the Micra and the underbonnet area isn’t overly crowded. As always, it makes sense to have a workshop manual. Leave all safety related items to professional mechanics.
Insurance costs for the Nissan Micra are about average for this class of car and we haven’t found much difference in premiums between any of the major insurance companies. Still, it might be worth shopping around for your individual quotes.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Look for damage to the wheels caused by clumsy parking, the front-left is usually the first to suffer.
Check for crash repairs by looking for paint colours that don’t quite match and small droplets of paint on non-painted surfaces or panels that aren’t as smooth as they should be.
Be sure that the engine starts easily and settles into a steady idle within seconds of firing up.
Manual gearboxes with noisy changes and/or that baulk on fast downshifts may be in need of an overhaul.
Make sure the timing belt has been replaced according to the maintenance schedule as a slipping belt can cause major damage within the engine.
Listen for a clicking sound from the front wheel hubs when the Micra is driven on full steering lock in either direction. This indicates worn universal joints. It’s best to do the test at very low speeds, quiet carparks are ideal.
CAR BUYING TIP
Holding a magnet against a meta panel will tell you if the material underneath is metal or plastic body filler.