Doing a full road test on a car the size of the Nissan Micra ST-L is not a lot of fun for anyone here at Aussie Motoring HQ.
You see … we’re all tall and we’re not located in a capital city … in fact we’re about three to four hours drive from the city … and cars this size are usually not built for tall drivers on long trips.
So road testing something the size of the Nissan Micra is not very high on the list of cars we want to road test and we try to avoid them.
However, when one just magically appears in your driveway and you have to actually drive it somewhere to get it back to the person who left it there … well you can always fit in a quick road test can’t you?
The Nissan Micra ST-L that I drove was the latest 4-door manual sedan and it had just over 4,o00 km on the clock.
The 2013 Micra ST-L comes to us from India … previous models were built in Indonesia … but the overall finish of the car I drove was excellent and the finish was equal to anything I’ve seen on Nissan’s coming from Japan.
There were however, two issues that I did notice about the car I drove. It had been thoroughly cleaned inside and out in Brisbane and yet, by the time it drove up the Bruce Highway to our location, there were quite noticeable signs of dust across the dashboard and on the instruments.
The second issue was the inset rubber mat on the driver’s side. The stitching that holds the mat to the carpet is inset by perhaps 10 millimetres from the edge of the mat and that allowed the edges of the mat to start rolling up. It made the floor in front of the driver’s seat look a little shabby.
The Nissan Micra is powered by a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine that produces 56kW of power and 100Nm of torque. That was coupled to 5-speed manual transmission in the car I drove (a constant velocity auto transmission is available as an option).
I found the car surprisingly fun to drive with the manual transmission although the 1.2-litre engine quickly runs out of puff on any sort of hill when you’re in fifth gear. On the flat it’s fast … on the hill in any gear it becomes a little slower so expect to be busy with the gear lever in anything but flat terrain.
I can only guess at what it would be like to drive the automatic version of the Nissan Micra but I wouldn’t expect it to be a lot of high-adrenalin fun.
The clutch in the manual Nissan Micra caught me off guard too. It’s very … and I mean very … light and fortunately no one was around to watch as I backed out of the driveway and then tried to proceed in a forward direction.
If anyone had been around they would have seen the Micra I was driving trying to emulate a kangaroo and it’s been many a long year since I last managed to do that. By the first corner I had mastered the clutch … at least I thought so … but I did have a quite a few revs on and maybe I spun the wheels … just a bit.
I didn’t get to spend long enough in the car to get any useful fuel consumption figures but the economy gauge that’s part of the dashboard was telling me that I was running at about 8L/100k.
On good tar the ride was wonderful … smooth … comfortable … just what you would want on a town car. But city roads are a far cry from some of the main roads around here and I soon discovered that the ride of the Nissan Micra on the average bumpy road around here was somewhat choppy … and hard … and I didn’t like it.
Despite that the car handled well … you can point it into a curve or corner at a reasonable legal speed and know that it’s going to come out the other side still pointing in the right direction and your passenger won’t be looking for the escape hatch.
As you would expect in a vehicle this size, the turning circle is tight … just nine metres according to Nissan.
I’m neutral about the body shape. It seems to me that the designers wanted to be just a little bit quirky with the look of the Nissan Micra but still have something that was conservative enough to appeal to older drivers … and let’s fact it … not every Nissan Micra is going to be sold to a trendy young thing.
Older city drivers are going to be interested in the Micra because of its price tag, it’s size and it’s fuel economy and Nissan wouldn’t want to scare them away with something that was too quirky.
Whether it’s quirky or not you do get good all-round vision from the driver’s seat and big rear-view mirrors let you see what’s behind you too.
The Nissan Micra I drove was a 4-door so there’s not going to be a huge amount of legroom for the driver. When I jumped in the car I found that the seat was fairly upright and already set all the way back and even though I felt as though my knees were almost up around my ears I left it the way it was.
I wasn’t uncomfortable and the driver’s seat certainly supported me everywhere I needed it to but … for me … it’s definitely a city car. I would not take it on a long trip.
The dashboard layout is simple and easy to read. All the important gauges are right where you can see them and the fuel gauge is incorporated into the driving computer so it will even tell you when it’s time to fill up … and how many kilometres you’ve got left till you run out of fuel.
Don’t expect big things from the boot in the Nissan Micra … remember, this is a small car however it does hold a surprisingly large amount of stuff if you pack it correctly. The Micra I tested arrived with enough luggage for two adults for four nights … and it was all packed neatly in the boot.
If just two of you are travelling in the car you can always fold the back seats down for even more luggage space.
And tucked in a well under the boot is a full-size spare.
The bottom line
If I was getting on in years, didn’t do any driving outside of the city or town limits and I wanted a car that was both economical and cheap to buy then maybe I would look at the Nissan Micra … and if there was just a bit more legroom for the driver I might actually buy one.