The Nissan Micra is a rare member of a shrinking segment. When it goes away, soon enough, it won’t be because this was not a good car
Many would think I’m wasting my time driving and reviewing the same car for the last five years but only those who have not driven this car in that period of time, or those who do not enjoy driving, would think this. The Nissan Micra is the true definition of the automobile. And it is nothing short of a week of joy every time.
Fancy and powerful cars are thrilling but every time I drive a McLaren, Porsche or Dodge Challenger drenched in SRT sauce, I feel as though the entire South Shore of Montreal constabulary is looking out for me. Within the confines of the Nissan Micra, or a Toyota Camry or a Chevy Bolt, I never get the sense that a weekend in jail awaits me. In many ways, the Nissan Micra is freedom.
Priced to sell, but don’t bet on incentives
The 2019 Micra S’ starting price remains one of the lowest in the country at $10,488. For this modest sum, you get a 109-horsepower 1.6-litre 4-cylinder engine, an honest 5-speed manual transmission, seats, a 7-inch display, a USB port, brakes, a heater and a steering wheel. In reality, one needs little more than this. Sadly, Nissan’s incentives and interest rates for the Micra are, in a word, terrible.
The optional 4-speed automatic brings with it air conditioning and cruise control which explains the considerable price increase to $14,298. If you plan to opt for the automatic, select the SV trim as it includes power windows and door locks along with remote keyless entry. It goes for $15,598 and it is the best value. That is unless you want the manual gearbox as it is now only offered with the S trim.
Said manual transmission, the currently most effective millennials anti-theft device, is right out of the 80s. Throws are hollow, short and generally precise. The clutch is light but requires a steady left foot to keep shifts smooth. Properly driving the manual Micra requires more dexterity and skill than a Honda Civic Type R or VW Golf GTI and I love it for that.
The Nissan Micra S is a car for people passionate about driving. There are very few of us still out there and likewise, there are fewer and fewer available for purchase. Furthermore, the Micra’s aging structure still remains relevant today as the ride is very good. The dampers are perfectly suited to the car’s 2,300 lb. weigh, soaking up the worst of the road’s surface. At the same time, they are permissive enough to allow some shenanigans even though there’s a healthy dose of body roll. Steering and brakes are equally ideally tuned for the car.
The weight, or near lack-thereof, enables the 1.6-litre and accompanying 107 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,400 rpm to bring up the Micra up to speed with sufficient vigour. The car is not fast but it is absolutely entertaining.
Not the newest kid on the block
Physically, the 2019 Nissan Micra is the odd duck in Nissan’s lineup. Its age is obvious but this takes nothing away from its qualities. The $17,598 SR trim adds 16-inch alloy wheels, fog lights and a hatch-mounted spoiler for an extra dose of visual jazz. This does not change the fact that the car’s face is from a past generation.
The cabin is also from another era. It is entirely functional and logically laid out however the Chevy Spark does better design-wise. As for interior space, this is a four-seater with a decent-sized boot. All seats are soft, mainly up front, and are comfortable enough for short distances. As for storage, there are just enough spots for a few items such as phones and wallets, but that’s it.
One more year?
From what I can tell, the 4th generation Nissan Micra has another year left in its lifecycle in Canada. The 5th generation Micra launched more than three years ago in most world markets. As the subcompact car segment continues to struggle, odds that the current Micra will come are zip-to-nil especially given its substantial price increase. Nissan will concentrate on the more profitable Kicks.
Despite this, the 2019 Nissan Micra is still an excellent option in the segment as is the Spark. The Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris and Kia Rio are all far more expensive but they are more modern and better equipped. For $10,500, bring on the Micra S.