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I have been the proud owner of a second hand used Micra 1.0 (five door) for the past six months. It was regularly serviced by a main Nissan dealership by the previous owner. The exterior was in marvellous condition for its age, and even with little upkeep it is still is in excellent condition. Most who know me are more than aware of how much I love my car, I like nothing better than to go for a zoom down country roads in this car. Unlike most Micras mine is most comfortable when purring along at motorway speeds. I will go into the pros and cons of the Micra later on, initially lets get the fairly technical bits out of the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ BACKGROUND ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In 1993 the second generation Micra arrived. The improvements on the older boxier models were plentiful and impressive back in the day. Main changes include more space, superior modification and additional functions. And significantly the post-1993 Micra was built to far higher standards than previously in the UK.
British-built Micra’s have 16-valve engines for fantastic performance with greater refinement than most small cars. The revolutionary 16 valve engines, improved things radically back in the day.
My Micra has a one litre (998cc) engine with a manual gear box. I have done well in excess of 5,000 miles in this car and now am familiar with the workings of this minute yet life-enhancing machine (LOL!).
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THE EXTERIOR ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Micra has had a fair amount of enhancements on the exterior including mouldings, revamped bumpers, and my favourite improvement has to be the restyled front grille and new front and rear headlights. I was lucky enough to get a colour coded bumper which does not come as standard apparently. The Micra is available in both metallic and matt finishes, I prefer the metallic colours and mine is a bright blue colour!
In my opinion my Micra is the best shape compared to the earlier boxier shape, and the new third generation Micra which looks okay from the front but I’m not keen on the shape of the rear.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ THE INTERIOR ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On the inside we have the standard instruments and controls such as the all-important speedometer/ odometer, fuel indicator and coolant temperature gauge. Perplexingly my Micra lacks a tachometer (rev-counter). Bizarre as it is often difficult to distinguish whether the car is idling, and annoying as my car has a tendency to quietly cutout on me now and then with no warning. It would help if I could keep an eye on the revs to see what is going on. My mechanic can find no fault with the car and tuned the engine to make sure everything is fine. Anyone with any advice on this- please leave a comment!
Other important controls include the windscreen wiper and washer switch (mine also has a rear one), headlight beam selector, power door lock, and a lever that can open the bonnet and petrol filler lid. As with most cars there is a useful glovebox on the passenger side. Other sources of storage are the shelves attached to the front inside doors. Perfect for cans/ glass wipes/ tissues etc. Boot space is sufficient for a single female like myself though families/ people going on holiday may find it a bit of a squeeze.
Its high body makes sensible use of interior space. As the car doesn’t have air conditioning, it also has an essential sunroof which is simple to use. The upholstery is nothing to write home about- is grey and matches the grey dashboard (urghhhh - who designed that?). Though on the bright side it camouflages the dust that has started to collect recently ;-)
The standard Nissan stereo that comes with the Micra isn’t really that wonderful though does the job and is better than NO stereo. Within a few months my passenger side speaker started crackling and I am going to replace it soon. Am waiting for an excuse to justify the expense. I do spend a fair bit of my time driving, and no music would send me to auto-pilot mode which is a highly dangerous situation to be in. (Tongue firmly in cheek)
Security-wise the Micra has an immobiliser and coded radio so that’s good as it’ll save money on insurance. The lack of safety features is worrying, no airbags at all in my car and that is a serious concern.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ROAD TEST ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As it is essential to adhere to the relevant speed limit at all times; my Micra is ideal for this purpose. I still remember the first time I test drove my Micra, I went in heavy handed like I did n my Dad’s big car. The car shot down the street even though I had applied the tiniest bit of pressure on the accelerator. I did have to change my driving habits, became smoother with the controls and began to fall in love with my car. The clutch is Even though it is a tiny car I do beat 90% of cars at the lights (agreeing that they may not be aware of the competition, but still!). Yes first and second gears are faultless. However getting to 60mph takes too long, I’m estimating 14/15 seconds and I guess that’s the downside to having a small engine.
The car has power steering which is good, though I have to admit it took a lot of getting used to. My bulging muscles (heehee- really) have disappeared after my time driving the Micra so that is a slight personal disadvantage I suppose!
With a small light body, this car is a boon to drive around busy cities, though you may find it annoyingly slow getting up to motorway speeds.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ADVANTAGES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I do around 180 miles a week and I’ve not forked out more than £20 on petrol for the week. It is amazingly economical. Also the insurance is cheap, mine was around £600 and seeing as its my first car that’s not bad at all. Road Tax is £110 for the year which is low-priced due to the small engine size.
Driving around congested traffic is easier when you are in a nippy little car, weaving in and out of small spaces makes journeys quicker. Parking is also a lot simpler, which I really appreciate!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ DISADVANTAGES ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ If you want your car to impress all your mates then maybe a Micra is not for you. A sports car it ain’t, and thankfully it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It is often associated with Learners and the elderly bless them. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest- in fact I enjoy the double take other drivers give me when I’m overtaking them/ beating them at the lights/ parking in 0.5 seconds…
I’ve found that getting into the car is a nightmare in below freezing conditions. The key should be heated and De-Icer should be sprayed around edges of doors to get the damn things open. Also I’m told the door handles can become brittle and fall off, though thankfully that’s not happened to me yet. The best precaution to guard against this is to get the handles sprayed the same colour as your pantwork.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CONCLUSION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Personally I have found performance to be better than most suggest. Regular servicing (every 9,000 miles) is a must with this car and will hopefully stop any major problems from occurring.
The plentiful number of Micras available has brought prices down, adding to the appeal of the humble Micra. However if you are buying a Micra take a close look at the previous owner history. If used by Driving Schools I would avoid like the plague. I remember my own Learner days, I am amazed the car lasted all the revving and stalling. It doesn’t do a car any good in the long run.
Overall I am more than happy with my Micra. Even if I won the Lottery tomorrow I’d probably just upgrade to a newer one with all the mod-cons like electric windows, air-conditioning, flash stereo etc.
Thanks for reading my FIRST (and possibly last) tech review!