Long-term test, month two: Nissan Micra
The passing of time has done little to make our test car’s £450 “Platinum Sage” paint job any easier on the eye, although the seagulls of Leith have also consistently made their feelings known as they attempt to give it a respray in “Painter’s Radio”.
We all know the Micra’s well cut out for city life – it’s small, manoeuvrable and boasts great visibility. But how does it fare on the open road? The arrival of some semblance of summer weather provided the perfect opportunity to find out. A long weekend near Loch Lomond was organised.
A large rucksack and hefty shoulder bag were slung into the 265-litre boot with no need to boost that up to 1,132 litres by making the most of the 60/40 split folding and tumble rear seats – which score nine out of ten on my not-being-a-faff back seat benchmark scale.
Typically, our planned sunny staycation turned into a dreich damp squib as soon as I put the key in the ignition. Well, at least the rain-sensing wipers – fitted as standard with the mid-range Acenta trim on our test car – seem to be in working order.
Other comforts include automatic lights, bluetooth phone integration, a front arm rest and cruise control – which turned out to be a real boon on the motorway. With just a three-cylinder, 1.2-litre supercharged petrol engine churning out 97bhp, the accelerator pedal doesn’t do a great deal at motorway speed. Flipping on cruise control bypassed any feelings of frustration, while also removing the temptation to really work the engine into naughty speeds and waste petrol.
With the cruise control set to 65mph for most of the trip from Edinburgh to Loch Lomond, our Micra managed a very respectable 55mpg – still not as good as Nissan’s claimed 65.7mpg average, but car manufacturers’ economy figures are about as reliable in the real world as an e-mail offering you an inheritance. If you think cruise control in a Micra is no big deal, don’t forget that even the current Ford Mondeo doesn’t include this feature as standard.
The Micra is no Mondeo, of course. It’s small on the outside and big on the inside, which means it’s not the most solid or chunky car you’ll ever drive, and as such, you may need to turn the stereo up a little on the open road. You may also need to turn up your concentration levels, as the steering feels too light at high speeds and there is little or no feedback through the wheel to let you know how well the car is handling bends in the road.
Overall, though, the likes of the good over-the-shoulder visibility is great for changing lanes, that driver’s arm rest, roomy cabin and comfortable seats helped make the drive a relaxed affair.
It was also interesting to note that Loch Lomond’s gulls share their east-coast cousins’ – and my – distaste for Platinum Sage.
Car Nissan Micra Acenta 1.2 DIG-S
Price £12,650 (£13,600 as tested)
Engine 1.2-litre petrol, 3cyl, supercharged, 97bhp, 108 lb ft
Performance Max speed 112mph; 0-62mph 11.3s
Economy 65.7 combined
CO2 emissions 99g/km