Nothing quite tops an easy-to-use, compact car in a bursting-at-the-seams sort of city like Mumbai. Sure, we all enjoy a quick car packed with many ponies, but when my commute home averages 14kph, the head tends to prevail over the heart. And that’s where this Micra XL comes in – a car that’s easy from behind the wheel as well as on my wallet. Over the past month or so, however, I’ve been venturing beyond Mumbai city limits, spending weekends at my cottage in Lonavala to get away from the torrid October heat. And this has given me the chance to see how this city slicker feels outside its ‘comfort zone’. What I like about the Micra on the open roads is that it doesn’t feel underpowered and can cruise at serious speeds without breaking a sweat.
That said, I found the Micra doesn’t impress as much at insulating the cabin from road noise (the three-pot engine is quite refined though) and I often find myself cruising at a slower-than-usual pace on the Mumbai-Pune expressway to reduce that fatigue-inducing drone. Speaking of weekend getaways, the boot can easily hold the misses’ and my two-day’s worth of packing, but I doubt a full family will say the same. Now that the monsoon is past us, I was hoping the Micra’s tyres would grip the road. While there has been improvement, the skinny tyres don’t really dig into the road well and discourage me from having a bit of fun in the corners; ABS is sorely missed too. And the broken bits of road that have eluded the attention of the post-monsoon-fix-it squad still remind me that the Micra isn’t the ‘flattest’ riding hatchback around.
What the weedy tyres seem to help, though, is fuel economy – no complains here. Also, the Micra’s great part-throttle response means I don’t have to punch my right foot into the footwell every time I have to overtake, and this helps keep the fuel bills in check. I usually manage to squeeze about 12kpl in the city and 16.5 on the highways with fairly spirited driving. In our first report, we’d said we’d see how this Nissan holds up over the monsoon-battered roads. Despite being hammered by the rains while parked in open spaces and the suspension taking a beating during those three months, our Micra hasn’t blown a single bulb or developed a rattle yet. So, while the little Nissan may not be the most desirable car in our lot, it definitely is one of the most dependable – reason enough for me to reach for its keyfob.
Price: Rs 5.90 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test econom: 14.65kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None