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Old 06-05-2015, 03:35 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Review: driving a $9998 2015 Nissan Micra (Nissan's most efficient manual in Can/US.)



Nissan is loaning me a base level Micra subcompact for a couple of weeks. What do you want to know about it?

It's probably best known north of the 49th as "Canada's cheapest car", with a starting price of $9998 Canadian petro dollars (as indicated above, that's $8024 American freedom bucks at today's exchange rate).

Sub-$10k is quite the marketing party trick (even if it doesn't include mandatory fees like $1400 shipping, taxes, licence, etc). Canadians have been snapping them up, even the base models. One owner happily calls his "my ten grand tin can"!


Versa Note / sedan guts

If you're in the States, you have seen lots of Micras whether you realize it or not.

The car is built on the same platform and uses the same 1.6L drivetrain and many interior bits as the Versa Note and Versa sedan. (In Canada, the sedan was dropped and replaced by the Micra because apparently Canadians prefer hatchbacks over sedans.)


MPG must be big in such a small car, right?

Well...
  • City: 8.6 L/100 km city / 27.4 MPG (US)
  • Highway: 6.6 / 36
  • Combined: 7.8 / 30.6
It's not stellar, but it does happen to be the Nissan model with the best manual transmission fuel economy rating in Canada/U.S. ... which is essentially the same as the manual Versa.

Nissan was up front when they introduced this car: its mission wasn't "best MPG"; it was "lowest purchase price." Sharing the 1.6L drivetrain with the Versa was a big part of that recipe. (In countries on the other side of the pond, a more efficient 1.2L triple -- naturally aspirated or supercharged -- is the standard Micra engine.)

Fortunately, we know that manuals are handicapped by EPA testing, and it's not hard to beat the ratings with even the most basic eco-driving techniques. ( EG, see: Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L )


OK, so just how stripped down is it?

Have a gander at the "options list".

Whoever wrote this must have had a good chuckle while deciding what was worthy of mention "at No Extra Charge"...


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Old 06-05-2015, 03:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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the other end of the spectrum

This is the second time Nissan has loaned me a Micra.

Not quite a year ago, I got to try a top of the line, fully loaded version:


(See: I'm driving a 2015 Nissan Micra for a week... observations & fuel economy results )

Nissan has been pretty clever in the way they've doled out Micras to the media.

When the car was initially released, the only loaners available were mid & upper trim cars. The top spec one that I drove was as far away from $9998 as was possible to go: it would have cost over $20k with all fees & taxes.

But after about 6 months, when the pace of reviews began petering out, Nissan introduced a bunch of entry level, manual Micras to the press fleet. Few writers could resist sampling the unicorn -- the elusive "ten grand tin can" -- the actual trim of the cheapest car in the country. Unsurprisingly, that has triggered a second round of media coverage.

Good strategy for extra publicity.

I bet Mitsubishi -- which dropped the price of the base Mirage to match the Micra's shocking $9998 starting price -- is still kicking itself at how this has all played out so well for Nissan.

Clever, clever.
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:40 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Ahhhhhhhh, got to have those chromed inside door handles . They should have dropped a cylinder and stroked it.

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Old 06-05-2015, 03:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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That "feature" list is great! They'll even throw in a roof and four doors, no additional charge. Must be nice to have all those mandated safety features on a $8k car though!
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Old 06-05-2015, 03:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Base model as it may be, its still better equipped than my first car, a 1993 Tercel (which I still own, yay). It didn't come with a tach, variable intermittent wipers, or floor mats. Obviously a lot of the safety stuff too.

I'm kind of surprised to see a rear window wiper and washer. That seems like something they could cap off easily and save some money on.

I look forward to seeing what this car does for you. I anticipate that you'll be able to get some pretty amazing fuel economy despite its less than stellar ratings.
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:01 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picasso1387 View Post
That "feature" list is great!
I know! I laughed at the "manual windows" line. The media have been making hay about them -- it's probably the last new car you can buy with wind-up windows.

So I guess that makes it a "feature" if you count entertainment value alone.
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I love this car. good job nissan!
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Old 06-05-2015, 04:39 PM   #8 (permalink)
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It really bothers me that the 1.2L turbo version isn't available here in the states. I'm sure it puts out less emissions, so what gives?
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Old 06-05-2015, 05:03 PM   #9 (permalink)
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why no cheap Micra in the U.S.?

Here's why they don't sell a Micra in the U.S:



(Source: Cheap Wheels: The Least Expensive New Cars of 2015 )

The Versa has been the top-selling subcompact in the U.S. for years, and it's also the cheapest new car (MSRP). Nissan already has a success story in that car and would probably end up cannibalizing their own sales if they added the Micra to their U.S. lineup.

In Canada, the sedan never sold well, and it was cancelled when the Micra came out. You'd think the Micra would steal Versa Note sales, and it definitely has. But their combined sales have increased to the point Nissan now has the biggest share of the subcompact segment.

--

PS: the 1.2 in the Euro Micra is supercharged (or n.a.)
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Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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Old 06-05-2015, 05:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Actually, the block heater is a nice no-cost feature. Or is that fairly standard on Canadian cars?

I would pay extra to get manual windows.

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