“One Timbit please.”

“Sure, would you like mix in a 10-pack or?”

“No, no, just one please. Just… one.”

This display of thrift seems to befuddle our brown-clad employee momentarily, so I simply fling a snake at her (not me) and get the hell out of here. We’ve no time to waste: time is money after all, and this is the cheapest of cheapskate road trips. I’m in the least-expensive new car in Canada, and on a mission to see how far the loonie stretches.

With an MSRP of just $9,998, the Nissan Micra is the value meal of the automotive world. Just four figures – but then again you have to add on stuff like metallic paint and freight charges. Funny how onerous that $135 charge looks on the window sticker of a car this supposedly low rent. *If you’re looking for the catch, it’s that the base Micra is really more like an $11.5K machine. Plus tax.

However, as far as catches go, that’s pretty much it. I think it looks pretty great, sitting there on right-sized 15-inch steelies, with a squished-up silhouette and U-shaped ripples in the roof. It’s cute as a chipmunk, and the unpainted door handles and side mirrors are the equivalent of Scrooge’s long, thin nose. Cheap and cheerful? Oh yes, indeed.

Having introduced the staff at Timmy Ho’s to a crash course in herpetology (not really) I sally forth to find a morning cup of coffee. Starbucks? Hah! What do I look like, Dan Bilzarian? No, we’ll be doing what many folks do on a weekday morning and paying the clown a visit.

Like most modern McDonald’s restaurants, the inside of the Micra is a far cry from what used to pass as bottom-of-the-food-chain, and unlike McDonald’s, spending time in it won’t fill you with a vague feeling of regret. The ergonomics are sensible with dials and knobs where they’re supposed to be, and the seating position feels right. The materials used are a very inexpensive-looking cloth seat covering and hard plastic, but a four-figure (sort of) price tag excuses many sins. Manual mirrors seem quaint, rather than a burden. The rear cargo area is usable, bigger than that of a Yaris.

Huh. Coffee is more than a buck even at McDonalds these days. Maybe I’ll try for the senior’s version – say, sonny, can’t you see this onion tied to my belt?

2015 Nissan Micra S2015 Nissan Micra S2015 Nissan Micra S steering wheel
2015 Nissan Micra S, steering wheel. Click image to enlarge

A chance spotting allows me to park the Micra next to a Nissan Versa hatchback, and make a few quick comparisons. If you remember the launch versions of the latter, the loss-leader entry-level model came without even a stereo. I miss the old Versa’s focus on comfort and more French ride and handling versus the current Note’s slightly cheaper feel, but when it comes to a cost-benefit analysis, the Micra does pretty darn well.

For instance, it does come with a stereo. Sure, it’s no optional Burmester premium audio on a Porsche (price: 60 percent of a new Micra), but there’s an auxiliary jack so you can plug in your iPod and four speakers so you can bump Macklemore’s Thrift Shop as you burble on down the road. Wait. Why burble? This is a stick-shift: let’s go pop some tags.

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