Easy on fuel, cheap to run, easy to park, highly maneuverable, roomier on board than it looks.
The latest iteration of the Nissan Micra hit Canadian roads over four years ago, launching in April 2014 as an all-new model-year 2015 vehicle. The premise was simple: this affordable, cheap-to-run little car sought to give shoppers access to a brand-new vehicle in the same price range as many a second-hand car.
In base trim, pricing landed just a tick under $10,000, brand-new. This base model may have been Micra’s most compelling: though it had manual locks, manual windows, a manual transmission, and very basic features, it was great at what it did, very easy on fuel, and made a great commuter, first-car, or second family runabout.
All copies of the Micra are five-door hatchbacks with a decent cargo hold, and split-folding rear seats for added versatility.
Higher-end models included Bluetooth, heated seats, a back-up camera, 16-inch alloy wheels, up-level audio systems, a six-way driver’s seat, power locks and windows, cruise control, and more.
All models are powered by a 1.6-litre, 109 horsepower four-cylinder engine that drives the front wheels. Transmission choices included a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. We highly recommend the manual transmission – it’s a joy to use, and helps drivers capitalize on the surprisingly punchy little engine.
What Owners Like
Micra is noted to be easy on fuel, cheap to run, easy to park, highly maneuverable, roomier on board than it looks, and sportier to drive than most shoppers expect. Many owners report pleasing performance and fuel efficiency, especially with the manual transmission. Further, ride quality is well-rated, even on rougher roads.
What Owners Dislike
Common gripes include the wish for a more planted and stable feel at higher speeds, as well as the wish for an armrest on certain trim grades where it’s not included. Though this was a $10,000 car, some owners still complain of cheap interior plastics.
With the base-model Micra, Nissan provided shoppers with something relatively rare in today’s marketplace: a very, very simple car with limited complexity. If you’re a fan of keeping things simple, opt for the base-model Micra S. It’s got no cruise control, no power windows, no automatic transmission, no complicated touchscreen radio, and no power accessories. Few modern used cars are as simple as this, meaning less likelihood of repairs or headaches down the line.
If you’re after a higher-grade model, consider the mid-line Micra SV, or the sportier, nicely loaded Micra SR.
Here are some owner reviews.
Here’s Your Test Drive To-Do List
Confirm A/C Functionality
Run the Micra’s air conditioner, if equipped, at all temperature and speed settings, confirming that cool air arrives shortly after the system is turned on. Failure of the A/C to properly chill the cabin may be the result of a refrigerant leak in the system, or some electronic malfunction. A technician can diagnose any problems with the system in quick order. Note that, according to some owners, the Micra’s A/C system is fairly loud when activated, though this is considered normal.
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Check the Lighting
Though reports are too rare to warrant much concern, shoppers are advised to confirm that all exterior lighting provisions are working properly, checking for any burned-out bulbs or non-functionality of the lights or signal lamps. Further, give each headlight a good wiggle, to determine whether a loose or broken bolt or clip may be allowing some free play in the headlight housing. These should be rigidly mounted to the Micra, and if that’s not the case, some repair may be required. Simply, try to move the headlight by hand with moderate force, and if you’re successful, plan to have the headlight assembly reattached properly or repaired. Here’s some more information.
Based on this lengthy discussion in a popular owner’s forum, shoppers are advised to confirm that the Micra they’re test driving hasn’t been driven for several hours prior to their arrival. You’ll want to start the engine from dead cold, with the hood open, and then move closer to the engine to listen for any unwelcome knocking, smacking or banging sounds from within. Though relatively rare against overall sales volume, some owners have reported the telltale sound of “piston slap’, especially when the engine is started cold. Some have had engines replaced under warranty.
Other trouble signs include excessive oil consumption, and the presence of a Check Engine Light (CEL), with an accompanying trouble code that may reference a misfire. Here’s some more reading. For maximum peace of mind, check the oil level and condition of the Micra you’re considering, and monitor it religiously – excessive oil consumption between oil changes can be signs of more serious engine problems.
If the Micra you’re considering is still covered by its powertrain warranty, be sure to have any issues you detect documented by your dealer service department to help speed future warranty repairs, if needed. If it’s not covered by warranty, any low-cost powertrain-specific add-on warranty coverage is worth considering.
If the Micra you wind up with suddenly starts exhibiting sluggish performance, perhaps especially in extreme cold, the issue may be with the circuitry surrounding the electronic throttle actuator. Any technician can quickly perform a diagnostic scan to determine the cause of the problem, whether or not a CEL is illuminated. If the vehicle feels like it’s in limp mode, be sure to have a professional pinpoint the problem. Do not try to self-repair problems like this by installing new parts, pouring additives into the fuel tank, or disconnecting and resetting the battery.
The Micra’s manual shifter should feel light, easy-to-use, and fairly precise. If that’s not the case, and if you experience any difficulty in shifting smoothly, or any binding or sticking of the shift lever, be sure to have the shifter linkage, clutch hydraulics, and the clutch hinge / pedal sled checked over. Some owners have reported shifting-related issues caused by loose or disconnected shifter linkage, a leak in the hydraulic portion of the system, or even the installation of floor mats that might interfere with the travel of the clutch pedal. Here’s some more reading.
Other Useful Information
Though somewhat rarely, owners have reported shorter-than-expected life of components like wheel bearings and shock absorbers, as well as suspension bushings. If you’re considering a higher-mileage Micra from the used market, having a technician inspect these components may be a good idea ahead of your purchase – especially if the unit you’re considering seems to slam, bang, or smash into bumps and potholes.
Compression Test on High-Mileage Units
If you’re considering a very-high-mileage unit, note that a compression test on the Micra’s engine is a quick and affordable job for a qualified technician, and can provide some useful insight into the health and condition of the engine.
With the VIN you can find out if a vehicle is subject to any recalls via Nissan’s online lookup tool.
Micra’s most commonly reported problems are relatively minor in nature, easily addressed, and should be easy to detect on a test drive, or via a pre-purchase inspection (PPI) by a technician. Provided the engine in the unit your considering checks out as healthy to avoid a rare but potentially pricey issue with head-gasket failure, this one can be bought with confidence as a great, cheap-to-run little car.
Crash Test Ratings