Nissan Micra 2007 Review
The current exchange rate allows Nissan to bring the little car in at a starting price of $14,990, saying that leaves them “a small profit margin.”
That margin and the price; will probably be reviewed if the dollar drops in the near future.
But for now a key factor to help keep the price low is the strategy of bringing in only a single version; a five-door hatch with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and four-speed automatic transmission.
Overseas markets also get the choice of a 1.5-litre turbo diesel, 1.2 and 1.6-litre petrol engines, with the options of manual and continuously variable auto boxes.
Sourced from Japan, the car that has arrived here is already three years old, but Nissan says it has another three years of life.
Design-wise there’s no reason to doubt that, because the styling looks fresh among our traffic. It’s still a tall-proportioned little bubble, but the nose is less bulbous than we remember on the one we waved goodbye to a decade ago, and the rear’s rounded haunches give it a cheeky appeal.
The patterned chocolate fabric on the seats and doors is probably very groovy; or whatever the 'hot’ word is this week; but we would have happily traded it for a more conventional grey or black. And the cream coloured controls on the centre stack needed another cream accent in the line of vision to make them blend more into the cabin design.
There’s a reasonable amount of equipment for the price, including airconditioning, driver’s armrest, central locking and 14” steel wheels.
But there’s no light on the vanity mirror, and oddly no tacho; perhaps they think their mainly young female target market doesn’t care what the revs are, and perhaps they’re mainly right.
Storage solutions include a clever drawer under the seat and a second compartment in the glove box.
Safety and security fit-out incorporates an immobiliser, childproof rear door locks, side intrusion beams and a collapsible steering column, and includes anti-lock brakes (disc front, drum rear) with braking enhancement systems, speed-sensitive power steering and twin front airbags, but the middle of the back seat gets only a lap belt.
The four-star crash rated European model (Euro NCAP) gets a middle lap-sash, but otherwise the safety fit-out is identical.
A $1700 option pack gives you 15” alloy wheels, MP3 compatible six-stack CD player and twin side and curtain airbags.
At this stage we are not able to get the stability program on some of the overseas models, but it will be brought in as soon as it is available. However Nissan is not overly concerned about getting the diesel variant; as in such a small car the fuel saving would be marginal; although they may look to one of the other petrol drivetrains if the car is a success.
Sales are hoped to hit about 400-500 a month “and maybe even more.”
On the road
With its high roofline, the cabin offers plenty of headroom and doesn’t feel cramped for shoulder space in the front. However, the rear seat is not where you’d want to put a couple of adults for a long trip; or three even if it’s a short one.
Tilt but no reach adjustment on the steering wheel can make it a bit tricky to find the best driving position
The engine develops 72kW at 5600rpm and 137Nm and 3200rpm, which takes about 14 seconds to get the light car to100km/h, with the overtaking zone of 90-110km/h taking about 9 seconds. Basically, you emboss your shoe tread into the carpet; and wait.
And this is where the little engine really needs a simulated manual mode to help it through, as well as on hills where the four-speed auto dithers about which gear it wants to be in.
It’s certainly nimble enough to dart in and out of traffic gaps, but there’s not enough mumbo there to fight off a bigger rival if they decide to force the issue.
A best-in-class turning circle of 8.8 metres makes it easy to get around in tight spots and corners, with the parking dimples on the front headlights helping to judge where the car’s corners are.
To test that out we headed into a couple of backstreet laneways with an obstacle course of wheelie bins and the little Micra came through undefeated; and unscratched.
And with the wheels pushed out towards the car’s corners, it handled surprisingly well on the highway and through some speedier cornering, while the McPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension coped very well with rough and patched bitumen.
A bonus for those on a budget will be the car’s claimed fuel economy of 6.8L/100km, although with a better-sorted transmission it could go a bit lower.
But even with the standard four-speed auto; older technology as it is; the Micra will offer a lot of fun, particularly to the targeted first-time buyer looking for a friendmobile to do the beach and café rounds.
Engine: 1.4-litre four cylinder
Transmission: four-speed automatic
Range and Specs
|(base)||1.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$3,980 – 5,500||2007 Nissan Micra 2007 (base) Pricing and Specs|
|City Collection||1.4L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO||$2,420 – 3,740||2007 Nissan Micra 2007 City Collection Pricing and Specs|
Lowest price, based on 4 car listings in the last 6 months