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Preview: 2015 Nissan Micra - Remarkably priced, but not cheap

For less than $10,000, roomy subcompact offers surprisingly good value

HIGHLIGHTS
ENGINE
1.6L I-4 FWD
POWER
109hp @ 6,000RPM
CURB WEIGHT
1,057 kg
TORQUE
107 lb.-ft. @ 4,400RPM
FUEL TANK CAPACITY
41.0L
ECONOMY
6.6L/100 km
BASE PRICE
$9998
PRICE AS TESTED
NA

With the Micra, you get a new car with a used-car price tag

MONTREAL?The Nissan Micra is making a comeback in Canada, but it is not cheap.

It is surprisingly inexpensive ? and that’s an entirely different thing.

Nissan made headlines earlier this year when it announced the Micra would be returning to Canada after a 22-year hiatus, although it will not be offered in the United States.

At a starting price of $9,998, it is the most affordable new car you’ll find. Even the Chevy Spark, its closest rival in pricing, costs almost $2,000 more in base trim.

There are three trim levels for the Micra (S, SV and SR) and all three come with a 109-hp, 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, sourced from the Versa Note. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, or you can opt for a four-speed automatic.

The base S model with the manual gearbox is the one with the head-turning price, although Nissan predicts it will comprise only about 10 per cent of all Micras sold.

It offers few interior frills, with cloth seats, tilt steering, a four-speaker stereo system with CD and auxiliary jack, and a trip computer to keep track of your fuel consumption. But you’ll have to use some muscle to work the windows or adjust the mirrors and the four-way adjustable seats.

Opting for the automatic in the base model bumps the price to $13,298, but it also adds cruise control, audio controls in the steering wheel and air conditioning.

The most popular trim level will likely be the manual SV, which adds power windows and door locks, heated power mirrors, remote keyless entry, Bluetooth, and some exterior trim pieces, for $13,698 (add $1,000 for the automatic).

The SR adds some connectivity features, a 4.3-inch screen for the audio system with a rear-view camera, and mostly exterior cosmetic trim, including 16-inch alloy wheels (steel 15-inchers on all other models), topping out at $16,748 when opting for the automatic.

Admittedly, Nissan cut some corners to meet the low price point, but you’d have a tough time finding them from the driver’s seat.

Sure, there are no soft-touch materials, but the fit and finish of the textured plastic is above what you’d expect in this price range.
Although it’s small, the Micra is not tiny, and falls right in the middle of its competitors in interior volume, at 2,475 litres. I’m 6-feet tall and found the cockpit quite roomy and accommodating.

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The ride is surprisingly smooth and quiet at cruising speeds, although mashing the gas pedal to the floor in the automatic, which you’ll need to do to make a hasty passing manoeuvre, does create a fair amount of engine noise in the cabin. The manual model is quieter than the automatic, simply because the engine revs lower on the highway and the added cog means revs stay reasonably low when downshifting.

The suspension is quite compliant for such a small car, but the trade-off is excessive body roll when cornering at speed (although it never feels sloppy).

Being that the Micra will likely appeal to wallet watchers and not racer wannabes, this shouldn’t be a problem. It was quite windy during my test drive through rural Quebec, and the Micra did exhibit a tendency to wander in side winds, but not more than anything else its size.

The speed-sensitive electric power steering is somewhat numb at low speeds, although it firms up nicely as speeds rise. It also helps reduce fuel consumption, which is rated at 7.7 L/100 km combined.

With the Micra, Nissan is offering the chance to buy a new subcompact without spending more than you would on a used car.

The company has also added the Micra Opportunity program to its three existing financing programs, to make it easier for first-time buyers without a credit history, albeit at a higher interest rate of 9.9 per cent compared to 5.9 for other programs.

One example of just how much the Micra will appeal to budget-conscious buyers is my girlfriend, who is looking to buy a new car soon.

She spent a couple of hours using the build-and-price feature on manufacturer websites to compare choices, including the Mazda2, the Toyota Yaris, the Kia Rio and the Micra. Equipped with a manual transmission, air conditioning, power windows and Bluetooth connectivity ? her minimum requirements aside from fuel efficiency ? the Micra was at least $2,500 lower than her other choices.

She enjoys driving, so a test drive will ultimately determine which car she buys, but the Micra is the first one she’s booking for a drive. I suspect many other Canadians on a budget will be doing the same.

Transportation for freelance writer Costa Mouzouris was provided by the manufacturer. Email: wheels@thestar.ca.

2015 NISSAN MICRA

Price: $9,998 to $16,748
Engine: 1.6-L inline four
Power/Torque: 109 hp/107 lb.-ft.
Fuel Consumption L/100 km: 8.6 city, 6.6 hwy., 7.7 combined
Competition: Chevy Spark, Ford Fiesta, Honda Fit, Kia Rio, Mazda2, Mitsubishi Mirage, Toyota Yaris
What’s Best: Low price, above-class fit and finish.
What’s Worst: Automatic is noisy when passing.
What’s Interesting: Most inexpensive access to air conditioning.

The Toronto Star for Wheels.ca

  • Preview: 2015 Nissan Micra - Remarkably priced, but not cheap The 2015 Nissan Micra will mark a new era of unbeatable value for Canadians when it arrives this spring. Combining Japanese quality with European styling and heritage, Micra will provide Canadians with more fun, more attention to detail and more value than they've ever expected in a small car.
  • Preview: 2015 Nissan Micra - Remarkably priced, but not cheap MAILMASTER Subject: Nissan Micra images, 1 of 3 On 2014-05-20, at 7:20 PM, Devine, Doug wrote: From: Costa Mouzouris [mailto:mouzourisc@gmail.com] Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 5:25 AM To: Devine, Doug Cc: Photodesk - Toronto Star; Toronto Star, Wheels Subject: Nissan Micra images, 1 of 3 Credit: Costa Mouzouris Caption: The new Nissan Micra is the least expensive car in Canada at $9,998, but it is not cheap. Nissan_Micra_beauty1.JPG Nissan_Micra_beauty2.JPG
  • Preview: 2015 Nissan Micra - Remarkably priced, but not cheap MAILMASTER __Subject: Nissan Micra images, 2 of 3 On 2014-05-20, at 7:20 PM, Devine, Doug wrote: From: Costa Mouzouris [mailto:mouzourisc@gmail.com] Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 5:25 AM To: Devine, Doug Cc: Photodesk - Toronto Star; Toronto Star, Wheels Subject: Nissan Micra images, 2 of 3 Credit: Costa Mouzouris Caption, interior shot: The interior is well appointed and roomy for a budget-priced subcompact. -- Costa Mouzouris 6237 41st avenue Montreal, Quebec, Canada H1T 2T8 Phone: 1-514-257-9056 Cell: 1-514-813-2504 Nissan_Micra_engine.jpg Nissan_Micra_interior.jpg
  • Preview: 2015 Nissan Micra - Remarkably priced, but not cheap 2015 Nissan Micra.

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