After spending a year as part of our fleet, this hatchback had by now entrenched itself into our long term family. Owing to its compact size, it was easy to take the Micra out for a spin to test its grit on the city roads, and it left us quite impressed.
I used the car mostly to make my way from home to work. In traffic, it’s a breeze to drive, thanks to its peppy three-cylinder and 1.2-litre motor. It’s punchy and has good part throttle responses, good for getting to those gaps in traffic. The throttle response is a bit jerky and does need some getting used to in bumper-to-bumper situations. On open roads, as you step on the accelerator, the mid-range makes overtaking quite easy. The engine pulls all the way to the 6,800rpm limit, but this is not something you’d want to do very often for two reasons: first, because the 1,198cc engine sounds thrashy at these revs and second, almost all that noise will filter into the cabin, which is not very well insulated – you may even have to yell to be heard over the din.
The steering is light and easy to use, especially in the cut and thrust of Mumbai’s unruly traffic. At the same time, it’s quite accurate, making the Micra a good handler. The decent dynamics are also evident in how willing the car is to being chucked around corners. Yes, the suspension is soft and this leads to a bit of body roll, but nothing that will take away from the driver’s confidence. Also, the soft suspension setup allows the Nissan to manoeuvre broken roads efficiently and quietly. Aside from its good urban manners, the Micra does pretty well on the highway too, owing in part to the strong responses from the petrol motor as you pile on the revs, and in part to the good straightline stability. What takes away from the otherwise decent driving experience are the weedy tyres. They don’t afford much grip and will prevent you from being adventurous in this car.
Compact dimensions, easy-to-manoeuvre nature makes it a capable city runabout.
In terms of features, even this middle-trim car is well specced. There are useful features like keyless go, which is extremely handy when you need to get in, but have your hands full. The Bluetooth audio system works well, but there aren’t any steering-mounted controls. Of note is that on this mid-level car, the horn extends to the sides of the wheel and this allows for seamless driving (this feature isn’t available on higher trims).
Quality levels and fit-finish inside are decent though not brilliant. The large glasshouse deserves a mention. On one hand, it enables better visibility, in turn, improving manoeuvring abilities in the city and on the other, it takes the air-con that much more time to work effectively. And the air-con unit is quite noisy, with the compressor’s hum intruding quite a bit into the cabin.
Seat comfort is fair up front, although at the back, the bench is too low and flat; it sort of leaves rear passengers’ thighs unsupported and makes long-distance trips a little trying. But packing in luggage for those out-of-town trips should be quite simple with the generous 251-litre boot. There is no split on the rear seats though, the whole bench back flips down to make more room.
Fuel economy stands at 10-12kpl around town, not too impressive for a three-cylinder unit, but what was more disconcerting was the digital fuel gauge display. It kept fluctuating, which made the Micra particularly daunting to take for long drives on lesser-known routes.
All in all, at the end of nearly a year as an Autocar long termer, notwithstanding the minor niggles
like less-than-impressive fuel economy, jerky low-speed response and poor levels of cabin insulation, the Nissan Micra impressed with its breadth of abilities, both as a reliable city runabout and the occasional