Review: Nissan Micra

Capable, well-made and decent value-for-money

29 Oct 15 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Well kitted-out

  • Value for money

  • Cheap to run

Cons

  • Steering is too light

  • Limited space in the front and rear

  • Poor quality interior

Our expert rating

The Nissan Micra is a supermini that competes with small hatchbacks such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa. The Micra has been around since 1982 and has a robust following, thanks to its mixture of sturdiness, frugality and straightforward drivability.

Performance

The older 1.2 litre petrol five-door Micra is best for its combination of agreeable performance and brilliant fuel economy. The 1.4 petrol is marginally faster, although it sips a little bit more fuel.

However, if you want the definitive performance, there is also a 1.6 petrol, which is pretty quick off the mark. There is also a 1.5 dCi diesel, which is exceptionally thrifty, albeit a little slow.

Nissan Micra engine

Ride and handling

The Nissan Micra will be your best mate in town.  You can weave in and out of traffic and park in the tightest of spots due to the car’s small size and good visibility. The steering is nice and nimble and all the pedals are light.

Out on the straights, though, the Micra is not quite as impressive because the steering can feel a little too light. That means you don’t always know what’s going on under the wheels, especially when exiting bends.

That said, the Nissan is pretty predictable, and the car’s stiff set-up actually gets better the faster you go.

Interior space

Space in the Micra isn’t amazing. Rear headroom is especially bad and the boot isn’t exactly mammoth. You fare much better in the front, as this is where all the head and legroom is.

The driving position is great, too, in spite of the seat not offering much in the way of adjustment. Another bonus is that all Micras are well kitted-out, particularly with safety aids.

Nissan Micra interior

What to know before you buy

The Nissan Micra is a pretty tough little car and it’s screwed together nicely. Unfortunately, there are blips here and there. The most frequent issue is that the battery can go flat without warning. This is normally caused by electronic gremlins.

More often than not, it’s the car’s immobiliser that drains the battery, and the keyless entry system fitted to newer Micras does the same thing. This will probably have been fixed as the problem was identified quite some time ago, and Nissan should have taken care of it under its three-year, 60,000-mile warranty.

There have also been some issues with the turbos failing on the Nissans with diesel engines. You can tell if a turbo diesel is going wrong if, on your test drive, you see distinctive blue or grey smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe. Additionally, the car’s computer diagnostics should pick up turbo faults. If it has, a check engine light will be illuminated within the dashboard binnacle.

Other problems with the Micra include water ingress into the boot. General dampness in the load area or water collecting in the spare wheel well is a give-away. You will need to get the boot seal replaced if this is the case.

Nissan Micra Renault Clio alternative

Alternative cars

Surprisingly, servicing a Micra is not cheap. It’s on a par with the Renault Clio, but other alternative hatchbacks, such as the Vauxhall Corsa, Ford Fiesta, or Peugeot 206 are cheaper to maintain.

Overall verdict

The Micra is a capable, well-made and decent value-for-money used hatchback. The Nissan comes with a good amount of standard kit and is a perfect first car. There are lots of them on the secondhand market and they aren’t expensive to buy, either.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall