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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:

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

  • 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: http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthrea...cra-30059.html

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.)

Questions?

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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Old 07-11-2014, 05:49 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nissan could at least offer the 1.2L engine alongside the 1.6L instead of making it not available at all. Anyway, where is it sourced from? In Brazil the pre-facelift version made in Mexico is still available, while this facelifted version recently got locally-made. But no automatic transmission back here not even as an option IIRC...
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Old 07-11-2014, 08:37 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Ours is Mexican made... and yes, it's a little strange that NO auto trans is available at all in multiple South American countries... though it helps with fuel economy.

Here's a Brazilian 1.6L / manual Micra owner showing the results of a 338 km highway trip in his car: 19.3 km/L = 5.2L / 100 km = 45 mpg US.



1.2L 3 banger... but not here

Offering the 1.2 would cost more (would have to be emissions certified & tested for fuel economy, service training & parts inventory stocked), and the Canadian market probably isn't big enough to justify the expense. But the Nissan rep I asked about it said "it just depends on the market" ... meaning I suppose that if/when gas gets expensive enough, they'd look at it.

I think a bigger issue is this: currently the Versa Note hatchback with the CVT is the company's most efficient I.C.E. vehicle in Canada/U.S. So if they offered either the CVT or a 1.2L in the Micra, it could take that marketing angle away from the more profitable car.

And lastly: typical auto journalists like the 1.6 four, especially compared to a lower powered 3-cylinder. I haven't read a single negative review of the 1.6L Micra, while the Mirage's 1.2L engine has been regularly mocked by gearheads in the media (personally, I love the character of triples ... but I'm obviously biased... Firefly!).
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:45 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Americans prefer sedans? That's news to me, we move a lot of Versa hatchbacks from Vancouver to Washington state, and they always sell instantly down there. We actually don't bother exporting the sedan models, the hatchbacks are such good sellers.
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Old 07-11-2014, 12:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yeah, that was Nissan's official line anyway.

I think it may just be a simple answer to a complicated situation.
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Old 07-11-2014, 01:36 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Also, Washington Americans are practically Canadians anyway.
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Old 07-11-2014, 05:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Micra

Is she capable of pulling a trailer?
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Old 07-12-2014, 10:29 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Phil, I actually asked about this, and the answer is "not officially".

Yet it certainly has enough power to do light duty towing, in my non-expert opinion.

Unfortunately, because there's no American version of the car (yet?), there's probably not enough demand to justify aftermarket development of receivers. So Canadians may be hard pressed to set their Micras up for towing duty.
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Old 07-13-2014, 12:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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Is she capable of pulling a trailer?
ANY car is capable of pulling a trailer.
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Old 07-15-2014, 09:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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I realized yesterday that this is the very same Micra I drove briefly in May in Montreal when I had a chance to compare the fuel economy of the 5-speed vs. the automatic over the same route.

Handling...

When I posted the Montreal thread, someone asked me about the car's handling, but I hadn't really had a chance to play with it.

I have now!

It's nicely buttoned down. Standard front & rear stabilizer bars (Canada is the only country to get both) have body roll under control, and the steering is relatively responsive.

These are two areas of criticism of the Mitsubishi Mirage, and having spent time with the Mitsu recently, I have to agree (the Mirage has a "slower" steering ratio for the same turning radius, much higher steering assist, significantly softer springs/dampers, and only a front stabilizer bar). The Mirage arguably offers a plusher ride, but if you appreciate a little spirited driving now and again, you would definitely pick the Micra, regardless of the cars' drivetrain differences.

The drive home from Ottawa on Sunday evening turned into a real life game of Frogger. There were hundreds of them hopping across the back roads, and the steering got a workout -- lots of flicking the car left & right.

It's no go-kart, but highway on/offramps and twisties can be fun. (Though some owners are already looking to lower their Micras a little and firm them up more.)


Fuel economy so far

After about 250 km of a mix city/small town/back roads & freeway driving, the fuel economy display is showing 5.1 L/100 km (46 mpg US / 55 mpg Imp). That's using just basic ecodriving techniques only, and sticking to the speed limit on the open road (mostly secondary highways, 80 km/h / 50 mph limit). I haven't used A/C yet.

The car's combined rating is 7.8 LHK / 30.2 mpg US.

However that's an uncalibrated number -- owners are reporting the gauge to be 5-10% optimistic. I'll correct the numbers in this thread when I fill up.

UPDATE: the onboard MPG display read ~4.5% optimistic, vs. calculations at the pump.

I will admit the 4-speed auto is driving me a little nuts!

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__________________
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Ecodriving test:
Manual vs. automatic transmission MPG showdown: Nissan Micra 1.6L



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