With the recent rumors about brand new Micra for 2017, it’s no wonder the current generation gets so little love. It’s remained practically the same for the last two years or so, and it’s been slowly dying. It’s not that it’s a bad car, but it just got thrown into the shadows by its rivals. More importantly, the fact is that Nissan was busy with other stuff and neglected their Micra.
The current 2016 Nissan Micra is sold only as a five-door version. This might be a drawback for some people, but it’s not an issue for the majority. The fact that it’s got four doors means it’s very practical, much more than its tiny body and small size might lead you to believe. It’s got a lot of space on the inside; it is well equipped and is relatively affordable. Why is it not that popular then? Well, it’s a case of good planning bad execution. The finish is not that great, and the exterior is awkward at best. It’s just a car, nothing more. It’s the ideal rental car, but we honestly don’t know why anyone would own one.
First, let’s start with the driving dynamics. The supermini segment is very competitive at the moment, and it has no place for weak, small cars. Unfortunately, that’s what the Micra is, simply not offering a lot. It’s great around town at low speeds but takes it up to a highway or an open road with even a medium speed, and you see why it’s not that popular. The suspension can’t deal with the rougher roads, especially at speed, and the entire car feels shaky, you don’t want that feel in your vehicle. It’s unsettling even over smaller bumps, and it wallows in a manner that is borderline nerve racking. It’s not unsafe by any means, but you do get the feeling that all it takes is one left to right wheel motion to tip it over on its side.
The engine can be heard in the cabin. By heard we mean it’s very intrusive, especially at higher revs when it’s asked to work hard. There’s a lot of road noise and wind noise protruding inside the cabin as well. Long journeys can be tiring and even annoying, and that’s if you have a relatively smooth road surface only to hear the noises. If it’s particularly poor, prepare yourself mentally for the punishment you’ll have to endure.
The corners don’t bring much as well. It feels out of its depth. You might expect it to be great in the corners as it’s very small and you might suspect, even nimble. But we can say that’s not the case. The steering is light but not in a good way. It’s vague, lacking precision and any feedback. It’s great for town driving, particularly because it’s light, but it’s so unresponsive you can’t feel anything from it at higher speeds. You can guide the car through a corner; everything will be done quickly and safely. Have no worries. But it’s not enjoyable, not even in the slightest bit, it simply does not give you that feeling we have from many small cars in the segment.
Again, we come back to the same question. Does a city car, especially a cheap one have to be fun or that precise? After all, the Micra is safe and predictable, both things a supermini must have in addition to fun. At the price point, it offers. However, it’s difficult to argue. The high driving position is great for city runs, the excellent visibility, and small size means you can park it anywhere, and the light steering and easy and responsive controls mean you can drive it through traffic all day long without getting tired. The tight turning circle is a plus as are the short overhangs on both ends. It’s a box on wheels, but in a good way. The wheels are almost on the corners which make parking the easiest task.
2016 Nissan Micra Engine
The 1.2-liter three-cylinder engines won’t amaze you at all. You have two options: a 79 hp engine or a 97 hp one (supercharged). This may sound counter-intuitive but bear with us: we suggest you go for the less powerful one, the 79 hp. Yes, that’s right, our recommendation is the least powerful engine. The reasoning behind it is this: it’s much cheaper to buy, cheaper to register and insure in some countries (where hp is important), and because even the more powerful engine is below 100 hp, we’d be lying if we said you could feel a massive difference in them.
City driving is identical, with the small difference that perhaps you can feel the power from the 97 hp engine on open roads or the highway. Honestly, we wouldn’t even drive it that fast or take it on those kinds of roads where you can feel the difference, so it’s ridiculous to spend more money on the 18 hp more powerful version. The basic engine can reach 60 mph in 13.7 seconds and will go on to 106 mph while the DiG-S (supercharged) one will complete the same sprint in 11.3 seconds and go on to 112 miles per hour.
The interior is okay as a whole, but nothing stands out. The old Micra’s unique styling is gone and in its place are now dull plastics with no styling or visual appearance. In many ways, it’s a downgrade. Not regarding materials and of its quality, but in terms of originality. It may appeal to a wider audience now, but it has lost its character, something we feel was vital in the appeal of the Micra. The fit and finish is nothing to brag about but it gets the job done, have in mind that you are buying one ultra-cheap vehicle. We have to say, however, certain finishes (door handles, glovebox lid) have such a poor finish job that you can see or even cut yourself on the sharp edges which were left over from the molding process. There are many segments where this car could be improved, and this certainly is one of those.
The price for the base 2016 Nissan Micra is around 7,000 Euros, and if we’re honest, that’s about as high as we’d go. Don’t get the most powerful version or go for any sort of gadgets. It’s great as it is the perfect cheap city car, nothing sporty, nothing to brag about. It’s the best worst car we’ve ever driven.