IN TRUE Jim Bowen style, in this month’s fifth instalment of our long-term test, we’re going to look at the other Micras we could have had.
The Micra has been something of an icon since the first ones were rolled out in 1982 – the car of choice or necessity for drivers at both ends of the age scale. But the latest Micra is a far cry from the one your mum took you to the empty supermarket car park in when you were learning to drive. In days of Micra yore, if you were lucky, you had a radio. If you were very lucky, it picked up something other than Faulty Alternator FM. The 2013 model is a different matter.
There are three trim levels to choose from. Even Visia, the entry level, comes with technology unimagined in a Micra of a few years ago – remote central locking, front power windows, electric power steering, radio and CD player with aux and USB inputs plus driver and front passenger airbags, side airbags and curtain bags, ABS and ESP.
Spend around £1,500 more and you get the Acenta – which is the trim level of our long-term test model. This gets you chrome accents (pointless), body-colour mirrors and handles (pointless), roof spoiler (pointless), driver’s armrest (pointless), automatic climate control, front fog lamps, leather covered steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity plus automatic control for the headlamps and wipers.
Add on yet another £1,500 for the top-of-the-range Tekna. This gets you automatic air conditioning, NissanConnect (ie, Facebook in your car), rear-parking sensors and parking slot measurement, automatic folding door mirrors, an engine start button and 16-inch alloy wheels.
With the exception of the wheels, these are all pretty gimicky and unnecessary – especially when you consider that this package takes the price of the automatic 1.2 DIG-S Micra up to around £15,000. You could get a similarly-equipped VW Polo or Ford Fiesta for that. We think the Acenta is probably the trim level to go for – the Visia is just a touch too basic, and the Tekna is a bridge too far, financially speaking.
There are two engines to choose from. There’s the entry-level 79bhp 1.2-litre unit, which puts out 115g/km of CO2 emissions. The manual Visia Micra with this engine is just under £10,000. Our car boasts the more efficient, more powerful three-cylinder 1.2-litre direct-injection gasoline supercharged (DIG-S) unit. This costs around £1,000 more but its enhanced fuel-economy – 68.9mpg versus 56.5mpg – should save you money in the long run.
DIG-S engines also come fitted with automatic stop/start technology which cut the power when the car is stationary. Nissan reckons this improves fuel economy by around 4 per cent. Based on the UK motorist’s average fuel spend of £2,256, this represents a saving of £90 per year, so if – like most Micra owners – you keep this one longer than your teeth, you will save a fortune.
Our time with the Micra is drawing to a close. Next month, we’ll sum up our thoughts of how its fared over the past six months.
PRICE £12,650 (£13,600 as tested)
ENGINE 1.2l petrol, 3 cyl, 97bhp, 108 lb ft
PERFORMANCE Max speed 112mph; 0-62mph 11.3s
CO2 EMISSIONS 99g/km