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The Nissan Micra is a cheap an affordable hatchback. I have a 1.0 model of which I found to be both fuel efficient and to a good build quality. On a good run 50MPG is achievable.
There are however to all cars demise, commons faults. These are plagues with the Mass air flow metre failure resulting in limp performance and a kangerooing sensation whilst driving. These parts are expensive new but are obtainable via scrap yards for approximately £30 and quite easy to change even for the novice mechanic. Also some have noisey rattley engines on start up this is nothing to worry abou as these cars are chain driven no belt, so until the engine getts the tension righ on start up the noise quickly fades.
Look out for examples with good service history as you would with any car.
Even with a small 1.0 engine it can keep up with modern traffic comfortably. Build quality again is good coming from the Japenese front so reliability is in its common nature.
sSo on summary look out for these common faults which are repairable, these are many Micra clubs and forums online to help you out with any issues. with this size engine I would recommend the 1.3 16valve but the 1.0 does hold it own in the market. Ideal for a cheap runabout and even a first car.