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2009 Nissan Micra City Collection Review & Road Test
Perfect for those hip, single type, city dwelling, label-wearing females
- 2009 Nissan K12 Micra City Collection, 1.4 litre, automatic, five-door hatch - $17,990 (RRP)
- Metallic paint $495 (fitted - New York Blue);
- by Rose Harris
I don’t think I’m making too much of an over generalisation when I say the Nissan Micra is a chick’s car, and as it so happens that I am the only one on the CarAdvice team that fits such a criteria, it was my duty to put the Micra to the test.
I’m not one to tell lies, so I will admit that I did have my reservations about the Micra. While it is a car directly aimed at the female market, I didn’t feel I was quite the market they had in mind. I have never really been a huge fan of the Beetle-like looks and bug eye headlights.
Despite all that however, I made a concerted effort to put all my preconceived notions aside and as the advertising campaign suggests, I gathered up my girl’s day out companion (my nine-month-old daughter) and we hit the city.
“Cities Love Micra” and it’s true. The small car is well at home zipping through city traffic, swinging into carparks, taking corners and negotiating busy shopping centres. It is quite comfortable for the trips it is designed for and the boot can hold a decent load of shopping bags. The rear seat folds down, 60/40, to add even more space if a monster shopping trip is in order.
There are some ingenious storage solutions inside the Micra to utilise the small amount of space available to its full potential. Everywhere you look there is somewhere to stash things, be it change, a phone or a wallet, the lip gloss or all those other things that seem to fill out a handbag. There are several different sized compartments within arm’s reach built into the dash.
The glovebox is amazingly large, stretching back a full arms length. Underneath the front passenger seat there is a slide out bin which is a clever way to stash CDs and other items to keep out of sight, or as the website depicts, that spare pair of hot pink heels.
Great economy is expected when it comes to small cars and the Micra doesn’t disappoint in that regard at 6.8 litres per 100km. When I picked the Micra up, the gauge sat above the full line and I had clocked up more than 80km before the needle even pointed to the “F”. Thus meaning the 41 litre tank doesn’t need to be filled frequently when short trips here and there are in order, another plus for the females.
The instrument panel intrigues me. It is at first glance – simple - but for me a little too simple. The absence of an analogue temperature gauge had me a little nervous. Just two LED thermometer icons are present and I am guessing one either lights up ‘blue’ or ‘red’ when you are heading into trouble, I have grown used to old fashioned gauges where you can keep a constant eye on the temperature.
As it stands the instrument panel is straight forward in offering a large speedometer with trip meter and a smaller fuel gauge. No tachometer to create any confusion, if that’s where Nissan was heading with the simple design. The inactive 4WD icon did intrigue me, a 4WD Micra now I would like to see that!
The upgraded City Collection Micra I tested came with a few added extras, among those a six-stacker CD player. The warning sign that read “CAUTION: only insert one CD into slot at a time” had me further worried at Nissan’s clear effort to keep the car’s operation as simple as possible.
But, jokes aside, the easily-operated stereo put out a great sound for the small area and the changer never missed a trick. The Micra is also fitted with an auxiliary MP3 player input jack, which for something different is located in the glovebox, I can tell you that took some finding.
There were things at first I thought were awfully inconvenient, the placement of the aux jack for one, lack of steering wheel controls for another. However, the compact nature of the car means just about everything needed for convenience is at arm’s reach anyway.
Speaking of arms, getting into the Micra you can be forgiven for thinking you are in an armchair with a prominent armrest protruding from the driver’s seat. This is a comfortable addition but did have me wondering whether it was encouraging one-handed driving and it was a little inconvenient when going for the hand brake, but it does fold back easily. Nonetheless, a comfortable addition.
Overall I found the interior to be quite comfortable and I took no issue with the cloth trim. The headrests were a bit different, the curved theme continued there and they took a doughnut-like design, not so much uncomfortable as taking a bit of getting used to.
I am under no illusion this car was designed for family purposes but it is fitted with three child restraint anchor bolts and for the record it fitted two childseats and the boot held a pram - wheels off. The location of the anchors was hugely inconvenient, they were located just inside the boot lip which meant the straps cut directly across the load space and they had to be released to remove the pram. That’s all I’ll say about the family aspect as chances are most Micra owners won’t have full-time back seat passengers, unless it's a big girls' night out.
From the exterior, the Micra gave that knees-around-ears sort of compact warning, but I was surprised. The ‘bubble’ nature of the car is more than just an eye-catching look, it provides ample headroom, in fact more so than in an average sedan. The same with the legroom, it is obviously compact, but not as bad as some small cars.
While I didn’t have too many problems with the interior overall, the off-white trim was a bit much. The air-conditioning control knobs, gearshift button and instrument dials all screamed 1970s kitchen and would have been better toned down a little.
Now let me get all girly and attention-to-detail on you and dedicate an entire paragraph to the dashboard. I loved the dashboard.
Aside from it being quite large it is designed with a rubber grippy covering, it dips inwards and feature little ‘barriers’ that prevent items that may be placed on the dashboard sliding off onto the floor when you go around a corner. Just a little thing but an awfully clever one to further amplify the ‘comfortable drive’ feel of the Micra.
The car design is big on the curves and circles. Even the interior light is perfectly round, I half expected it to spontaneously turn into a mirror ball as the Micra gave me that zippy city feeling that I should be driving to a nightclub or a serious girls’ night out, or that could just be the advertising campaign doing doughnuts in my head.
In the driveability stakes, as I have already mentioned the engine is zippy enough for city driving. I did take it out on the freeway for a small country drive and at 110km I didn’t feel the car clinging to the road like I prefer my cars to feel, but at the same time I didn’t feel I was in danger of being blown away. There was increased engine noise and also some wind noise from somewhere in the back, the engine did seem a bit strained at the speed limit.
While there is no cruise control, I did my best to sit at the speed limit however somehow I was still being overtaken by every Tom, Dick and Harry on the road. I mean sedan towing caravans, old farming utes and even a ute towing a horse float as well as trucks. By the end of my drive I had the distinct feeling people were overtaking me on principal.
There are no visibility problems with the driver sitting high and the bubble design meaning pillars seem thinner than a traditional hatchback. The boot is easily opened and closed and the car is perfectly accessible when getting in or out or getting items out. The available colours make me wonder. I loved the ‘New York Blue’ I tested but I have to wonder about other choices such as ‘Rio Latte’ aka beige to put it nicely.
While the Micra doesn’t appeal directly to my taste, I can certainly see where the market lies and know of quite a few Micra owners who adore the styling and city loving nature of the vehicle. Myself though, I have to admit at times I felt like telling people it wasn’t mine and almost expected a clown to jump out of the boot as it somewhat reminded me of a circus car. But as all reviews are, that’s just my opinion. Maybe I’m just not trendy enough.
As the small car segment is a competitive one, the Micra does represent present good value for money, it comes with automatic transmission as standard and starts at $15,990. An extra $2000 will get the City Collection Micra which means 15-inch alloy wheels, extra airbags and the upgraded sound system.
The direct market for this car may be those young, hip, single, city dwelling label-wearing females, but I can also see the Micra appealing to the older generation looking to downsize. Out and about I have seen quite a few older female drivers of the Micra and my mum was certainly impressed when I took her for a spin. The small, easily manoeuvred and economical nature transcends generations.
I am under the belief that there is a car out there to suit all manner of personalities and requirements, otherwise we would all be driving the exact same make and model. The Nissan Micra adds that splash of outlandish personality that is no doubt a winner to the niche city-dwelling female market.
- Micra (base model) - $15,990
- Micra City Collection - $17,990
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
- Engine: 1386cc DOHC four cylinder (16-valve)
- Power: 72kW @ 5600rpm
- Torque: 137Nm @ 3200rpm
- Induction: Multipoint
- Transmission: Four-speed automatic
- Driven Wheels: Front
- Brakes: Disc/drum with ABS, EBA & EBD
- CO2 Emissions: 162 grams per kilometre
- Fuel Consumption: 6.8 litres per 100km (ADR)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 41 litres
- Fuel Type: 91RON petrol
- ANCAP Rating: Three stars
- Airbags: Dual front & side
- Safety: N/A
- Spare Wheel: Space saver
- Suspension: Strut(F)/torsion beam(R)
- Cargo Capacity: 251/584 litres
- Tow Capacity: N/A
- Turning Circle: 8.8 metres
- Warranty: Three Year/100,000km
- Weight: 965 kg (Tare)
- Wheels: Alloy, 15 x 5.5-inch