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Well since its coming up for a year since I bought my K reg Micra I needed to update my review on her. She has done me proud in the 11 months since I bought her but it is coming up to the time when she will be going off the roads for the very last time (since she is certain to fail the MOT and a mechanic friend has estimated the work will cost over £400 to get her through it). So below is the original review the ****sections are my updates to it****
I have finally taken the plunge and replaced the poor Fiesta i wrote off in May, with a K reg 1litre, 5 door, Micra LX. I know the sum total of naff all about cars so there'll be no technical stuff and I've only had the poor thing 2 days so while I've not driven it long I reckon the driving I have done is fairly representative of what you are likley to do (town driving and the trip from Stirling to Bolton on the motorways).
Ok the car is a basic model, no power assisted steering, no central locking, no air con (although how many of these are avaliable on 1993 cars anyway?), wind up/down windows and sunroof and obviously there is only a radio cassette player, the previous owners thought like me so with the car was a cassette adaptor to plug in to my CD player (not got around to an MP3 yet). Safety wise there are no airbags which is a concern but I don't plan to hit anything nor let anyone hit me so it WILL be ok, the radio has a code on it and I think the keys have a sort of immobiliser thing (only the key from Nissan and for the specific car will work).
The lack of air con doesnt bother me. Open the windows when you arent on a motorway, fresh air wont kill you, honestly, people used to live in it! As i said the windows arent electric but would you really expect them to be on a 13 year old car? Nor is the sunroof, so while its easy enough to open the drivers window and the roof but any other windows would be a little harder, as you really cant be leaning across to open them when you're driving, it's just not safe.
The radio is pretty good, not the loudest speakers I've ever come across but I don't really want deafening by music, I go to night clubs for that! The radio itself is good, on the journey down from Stirling the signal wasn't lost at any point (had Radio 1 on) even in the areas in my Fiesta and in my Dad's 307 I would have lost the signal completely and been forced to find another frequency for it, the Micra radio was fantastic, so i wont be in any hurry to replace it. I have however resorted to the purchase of a cheap mp3 player as my cd walkman spent pretty much all its time skipping (most likely due to my driving not the car itself or problem with the cd walkman). ***Roughly 3 months ago the speaker in the passenger side door stopped working, making the overall volume much lower but the driver side one still seems to work perfectly so I never bothered to replace the failed one****
The interiour of the car is ok, it shows its age and if I'm honest is in serious need of valeting, but the seat fabric is all intact and while is a dull grey colour doesnt bother me, if i want it brightening up I'm sure I can get the seats recovered or find covers to put over them. But given my likely uses of the car grey is probably the best colour for it anyway. ****The seats never were recovered or even properly valeted and after several diving trips with myself and a buddy they are looking more and more battered and grubby but none have developed holes so the fabric is very tough****
The dash is standard dark grey plastic, the glove compartment is big enough that I can put my handbag in out the way (Ok its one of my smaller bags but I'm trying not to use the big ones, I tend to fill them). The top of the dash is flat and has a lip around it giving even more storage space (although the right hand side has a special unique feature).
The radio sits as all radios do in the centre of the dash area in front of the gearstick. Above it are the usual fan units for air circulation and the heater, below is the cigarette lighter, the heater/cooler, fan controls and a relatively narrow, but deep well type area (in which I already keep my car charger for my mobile, and the cassette adaptor).
The steering wheel is the same colour but a softer plastic, being an older car the wheel has plenty of wear on it, although not in the places you get taught to hold the steering wheel, but in the areas I tend to hold it, so I'm not alone in having forgotten that part of my learning! In the centre is the ever so vital horn. The odometer, speedometer, fuel gauge and radiator gauge are in the usual places, the tripmeter however doesnt work (i set it to 0 as i left Stirling, when i got to Bolton it read .9 clearly the trip was more than 1 mile on length!) but this really doesnt matter, I'm not likely to need it and the effort involved in making a note of the mileage isnt so great that if I ever do need to make a note of my journey length I can't achieve it. And on subsequent journeys its seems to be working just fine (registered a journey length of 67miles from bolton to ATC Harrogate which is about what the route planner said).
The 'stalks' behind the steering wheel preform the usual functions, the one to the left controls the lights (the twisty collar) and up and down the indicators. The right stalk controls the windscreen wipers, up and down for the front, twisty collar for the rear. Finally to the right of the steering wheel is another deep well type storage space.
The door pockets are fairly deep and wide enough to fit many things, and i dare say will become my bins as they did in the Fiesta.
The mirrors are all manually adjusted as are the seats. The drivers seat is plenty comfy enough (and I should know been sat in it over 12 hours already), although it felt lower than the seat in the Fiesta, but the different shapes to the cars will probably account for that.
The back seat divides in to a double and single for purposes of flattening them and I'm informed have plenty of leg room for the medium height person (not had a tall one in there yet so cant comment on a tall persons opinion).
The boot space is perfectly adequate, although personally I am yet to utilize it I know that it will easily fit my diving gear and two cylinders, and I have seen it fit 2 full sets of kit under the cover thing (minds gone blank, whats it called again?) but that was with very careful arranging. In real world terms thats easily 2 standard size suitcases with smaller soft bags packed around the sides.
The actual driving of it is well driving, I really dont know how to describe it! Erm, It corners well and is surprisingly nippy for a 1 litre, with fairly good acceleration on the flat and is much better at retaining its speed uphill than the 1.3 litre Fiesta was, possibly the micra is lighter? Gearing up and down is easy, atlhough the gears are closer together than I was used to with the Fiesta so took abit of getting used to, and with going up hill its better to go down a gear just to keep the power (as I said, do this in the Fiesta and it'd still slow down), while its not the speediest of cars (thank god, less chance of getting tickets) it's quick enough, my motorway journey took just under 4 hours from Stirling to Bolton, doing between 60 and 75mph all the way, any faster than this there is a definate 'judder' to the steering so yet another clever way to stop me picking up tickets and fines. ****After several diving trips and moving house to Kent and back that when the car is heavily laden she is very sluggish but on motorways thats not so much of an issue (until that HGV overtakes you). But even on long journeys like Bolton to Lydd she didnt feel uncomfortable nor unsafe, also as on the days I was using her to move it was very hot and I was expecting to need to stop to allow the engine to cool down but it never got anywhere near the red zone which I was very impressed by.****
Annoyingly there is no rev counter but its not a huge problem, just listen for the noise (you really do have to listen its a quiet engine) to know when to change gears. Without power steering its alittle heavy to turn sharp corners or for tight parking spaces but I would think that with practise I'll get better at this (or stronger, should stave off the bingo wings at least).
The outside of the car is the matt white colour, so will be a nightmare to keep clean, as would be extpected for the age there are a few rust patches, most are around repairs (from other rust patches according to the service history), so looks it's age, but the shape is pretty much a classic now (although I adore the 'bubble' shape of the new ones) it's just curvy enough to avoid being a metal box. Its wheels look small to me, although the car itself is quite tall for a small car, so should give headroom for all but the tallest of people (which i shall test on my guinea pig, Chris when i get back to work, hes about 6'6 tall), but as I'm pretty much average height and the bf is... well a shorta** scotsman, head and legroom wont be a problem - just hope he's ok admitting the lunatic blonde NAAFI bird in the old Micra is with him!
Having now tested the car with the tall person his recommendation was to open the sunroof (ok i was driving quite fast over a bumpy road, could explain it) but for a small car the cabin height he said was higher than he'd expected when he looked at it and he had plenty of legroom in both the front and the back of the car. Oh yeah, the boyfriend wont admit to knowing me in my car, apparently his car is much nicer so we'll be using that when we go out together (sounds like an excuse for me to drink dontcha think?) Maintaince wise i have been informed by a mechanic friend (who I took with me when I bought the car) for its age the repairs are what would be expected, and the only things I need to do now are replace the tyres- all five, as the treds are getting almost to illegal depth and the rear windscreen wiper, as some little honey pulled mine off when i stopped at a service station earlier. The tyres cost me £150 to replace with new valves and balancing which was the best quote i got (for anyone that cares about these things i got Fulda tyres rather than any of the big name brands)
Tax wise its £110 for the year or £60.50 for the 6 month option, my insurance is £795 but that was the cost for the slightly bigger engined Fiesta with zero no claims bonus, which for a first years insurance was pretty low (given my history of accidents in my dads car) through Direct Line.
Fuel is pretty much sipped by the car, its not a big drinker and at current service station prices for the more expensive unleaded petrol (over £1 litre!!!!!!) which was all they had- no regular petrol, hmm anyone think they just want to rip you off?? £20 was about half a tank, so assuming 'normal' prices its a pretty cheap one to fill. And given the current dropping of prices at petrol stations its getting cheaper, but a full tank of regular petrol cost me £22.50.
Since I bought it I've now used a tank and a bit, the run down the motorway used 2/3 of a tank and the scooting around town getting used to her used the rest, with around 1/3 still left for tomorrow. Although I have found that the fuel gauge seems to drop in fits and starts, with a sudden drop every now and then, if it gets to the red zone it beeps at you and the orange 'thirsty' light comes on. Having driven around 400 miles now ive only used about £40 of fuel (working through the next £20 worth at the moment but having the bf back means it wont get used too often).
****At the moment the after 11 months use the mileage is at just over 95000 which for a car of its age is pretty good, and I know that almost 6000 of that has been since I owned her. A quick reckoning says that on normal town driving I can get about 200 miles to a tank.
Her exhaust succumbed to rust a couple of months back and is currently held together with gungum and exhaust bandage but is currently sounding like she needs it rebandaging but for the 6 weeks that are left on her MOT I may as well not bother but according to a different mechanic friend an exhaust should cost around £60 plus labour. She also has a leak at the oil sump, I had her serviced over Winter and the garage said it is fixable but not so bad that it would cause her to fail an MOT (that would be caused my everything else), but again in the time Ive had her I had the oil changed when she was serviced and keeping a close eye on the oil level Ive not needed to top it up it is still around the middle of the dipsticks min/max levels.
There has also been a slight trickle of water coming in to the passenger side foot well, but it isnt oil nor does it have a smell so I think it is just rain which has found a rust hole and exploited the opportunity to come in to the dry. But it really is barely even a trickle, I can dry the area and it takes 2 days before it is wet again.****
Oh yeah and the special dash feature, my Micra is the totally unique, Trevor Nelson model. The previous owner was involved with the student union and was the person to collect said DJ from the train station when he played the Union last year, so he signed his 'limo'. If you find another one out there with the same feature I'll be very upset (well i wont but you know what i mean).
great review, very detailed just thank you stars you dont have a punto that things broke down on me more times than i can remeber
trevorbrock 24.06.2007 03:10
That is actually a very good review, covering all the practical ownership issues of the Micra. Since my other half also owns one - 6years old - (car not her, silly ) - I agree with all you've said. At 6'2" I can get in OK - although I joke that I wouldn't be seen dead in one!! - and it does drive pretty nippily.! - T
sarahbarrow 21.06.2007 19:23
Great review, my babies getting on abit (mreg corsa), but my husband bought it as a birthday pressent so of course i love it!!!!! Sarahxxx