I usually commute to work in Autocar’s faithful generation-one Tata Nano which, apart from an air conditioner, has pretty much no creature comforts. As much as I enjoy driving the nimble little Tata in traffic, every so often, it’s nice to have a bit more equipment. This is exactly why I was happy to snap up the keys to our long-term Nissan Micra for a few days.
One of the first things you notice is the ultra-light steering, which is perfect for my tight, traffic-loaded city commute. It also makes the Micra a breeze to zip through Mumbai’s roads in. The visibility all around is very good, thanks to the slim A- and C-pillars, and this is a huge advantage in suburban Mumbai, where you’re frequently surrounded by big trucks and tiny rickshaws.
Light-steering, and an airy cabin make this a comfy city runabout.
Now my colleague, Aditya, noticed this during his stint with the car a few months ago, and I totally agree with him — the petrol Micra’s part-throttle response is just a little too snappy. It took me a while to get used to it, but once I did, it almost made the car easier to drive in town. It certainly made it more entertaining to quickly squeeze through gaps in traffic.
Getting back to the subject of equipment, just about all of the long-termers in our fleet are top-spec variants — that’s simply how carmakers like to do things. The Micra, surprisingly, is one of the first test cars we’ve ever had in mid-spec trim. So this XL gives fog lamps, a rear defogger and alloy wheels a miss, but still has Bluetooth and aux, keyless entry and go, to name a few.
Things I’m not too fond of? The AC compressor is quite audible in the cabin, as is the engine at idle — quite unusual for a modern petrol car. Then there’s the ride quality, which is a bit inconsistent, and particularly at low speeds, comes across as a bit clunky. The light beige upholstery can get dirty quick, and the ‘distance to empty’ feature on the trip computer is unreliable — the readout varies frequently.
These small problems aside, mechanically, the Micra hasn’t skipped a beat during its tenure with us so far, and though we’ve put it through a lot, there’s not a single squeak or rattle — not something you could say of some of the more expensive members of our fleet. It’s back to the old Nano for me again, and maybe I’ll try something else next time. But as a city car a little further up the food chain, the Micra
is a great commuter.
Nissan Micra XL
Price: Rs 5.90 lakh (on-road, Mumbai)
Test economy: 14.65kpl (overall)
Maintenance costs: None
Previous reports: September 2014, December 2014