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Old 07-10-2014, 10:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I'm driving a 2015 Nissan Micra for a week... observations & fuel economy results

Nissan Canada is loaning me its disruptive little Micra next week.

I call it disruptive because it was launched with the primary goal of being the country's cheapest new car, at $9,998 (plus delivery fee, etc.), undercutting its rivals by thousands.

Nissan starts a war...

Predictably, it has sparked a price war: Mitsubishi is now offering a $2500 rebate on the base Mirage to bring it in at $9998, and Hyundai is offering deals on the Accent to bring it down near $10k.

The bonkers $10k strategy appears to be working: they moved around 1k Micras in each of its first two full months of sales. Here in Canada, that's A LOT of "micro/city" class cars. Compare to typical numbers for the Mirage (200-300 a month) and the Chevy Spark (~100/mo recently).

Of course hardly anyone will be buying the base $10k car, since it comes without North America's two favourite options: air conditioning and automatic transmission.

Automatic, schmautomatic...

And I am somewhat sad to report that the car I will be driving has the automatic.

(I actually would have preferred to spend time with the entry level $10k manual car, but the only press car available in my area is the $16.7k top line one.)
There's nothing particularly wrong with the auto; for a conventional 4-speed slushbox, it drives nice enough. "Pleasantly unobtrusive" came to mind from a brief spin back in May. But it robs the car of driver engagement and of course efficiency.

Zip, not sip...

The drivetrain (whole platform, actually) is actually straight out of the Versa sedan/Note, at 109hp, 1.6L, 4-cylinders. (Except the Note gets the more efficient CVT.)

That's a relatively powerful engine for the class (eg. the Spark has 82 hp & the Mirage has 74). So while it gains zip, it predictably also has the lowest MPG ratings of those 3 cars:

  • City: 8.8 L/100 km city / 26.7 MPG (US)
  • Highway: 6.6 / 36
  • Combined: 7.8 / 30.2

  • City: 8.6 L/100 km city / 27.4 MPG (US)
  • Highway: 6.6 / 36
  • Combined: 7.8 / 30.6
Of course, those numbers are easy to beat with basic eco-driving techniques.

See also:

Also of course, other markets (hello, Europe) get a more efficient 1.2L 3-cylinder engine (both n.a. and supercharged versions) and a CVT option.

No Micra for U.S.?

Nissan says it currently has "no plans" for the Micra in the States, owing to the fact that Americans prefer sedans over hatchbacks (that's what they say). Also, they're probably reluctant to risk cannibalizing sales of the Versa sedan, which is currently the cheapest new car in the U.S. and a perennial best-seller in its class. (Meanwhile, in Canada, the Versa sedan apparently never sold well at all.)


I'll be taking copious notes & photos during my week with the car. Anything special you'd like to know about it?

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Latest mods test: 15 mods = 15% MPG improvement: A-B test, 2007 Honda Civic 1.8L, 5-speed
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Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L

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