What’s there to say, really, about the Nissan Micra? It’s a subcompact hatch, has the lowest cost of entry in the country and makes just a little more power than does your average ride-a-mower.
Look a little deeper though. You’ll find there’s a one-make race series centred around these little buggers, as well as an SR version – as you can see here – for those who want a little more zing, a little more zang to go with their bottom-dollar. In Japan there’s even a sport-tuned Nismo S version (it’s called “March” there) that makes 114 hp and 115 lb-ft of torque. We don’t see that here, but I say it lends another layer of interest to the car and helps show how Nissan managed to sell over 10,000 of these in Canada last year. Pretty impressive for a car that isn’t even sold in the US.
Above all for the sake of this column, of course, is that this here’s a car that looks ready to handle any Big Guy in your life.
The Knee Test
Since you almost step down into the little Nissan, there’s much less chance of smacking your knee on either the centre stack or gear lever. This “step-down” architecture also helps shorter folk, as they don’t have to clamber up into a high seat.
It’s a surprisingly high seating position, too, which can be lowered on the SR and SV trims as they come with a 6-way driver’s seat. Thing is, it’s not so high that you’re scrubbing the headliner; as the profile shows, the Micra’s roof is quite tall, providing 1,033 mm of front headroom, and 976 mm of rear headroom. That’s more of each than you’ll find in the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris five-door hatch or Hyundai Accent hatch. Both the Hyundai and the Fit beat the Micra on the front legroom count, although we’re talking millimetres here and rear legroom is near-as-makes-no-difference on all four. The three other cars do offer more cargo capacity than the Micra, though, and none of them can compare with the Fit’s ingenious Magic Seat system.
While the seating position isn’t bad (provided you’re not expecting something low-slung and high-bolstered – these seat cushions are pretty flat), the fact that you can’t adjust the reach of the steering wheel is a bit of a disappointment, as is the slightly small bottom cushion. If you’re like me, you need to slide the seat pretty far back on its rails in order to be comfortable, which means that unless you have the reach to match, you may find yourself with sore-ish shoulders. I’ve seen worse, but I wouldn’t mind the option.
Know who races in a Micra? Elvis Stojko, that’s who.
Backseat comfort backs up the numbers; there is no way such a small car should provide this kind of comfort back there, but it does, full stop. I suppose it’s a bummer that there’s no rear armrest, but that, of course, would cost more and if you’re going to have the lowest cost of entry on the market, well, you’re going to have to sacrifice a few things. Plus, the rear seats will likely spend more time folded down than in-use, and any armrest would cut into hip room back there, so I just don’t really see the need.