The Comeback Kid: Following a 21-year hiatus in Canada, the all-new, fourth-generation 2015 Nissan Micra sub-compact returns all polished and priced at $9,998. The pressure is on to attract a new legion of Nissan fans. Can the 2015 Micra handle it?

2015-nissan-micra-review-15The Japanese automaker’s popular, boxy little Micra (and arguably, still the coolest in so many ways) last sold in Canada back in 1992, while the Nissan model continued selling globally into it’s third-generation. The new fourth-generation 2015 Nissan Micra makes a global unveiling. And Canadians get in on the action.

Right off the bat, I realized how roomy the interior cabin of the 2015 Micra is. Then I thought, that’s good, not only for the tall, cheap (value-conscious) people, of which there are many, but good for all consumers shopping in the growing sub-compact market, where today’s post-2008 consumer holds money like Fort Knox.

It’s quite clear, today’s consumer demands more for their money, especially their daily drivers. They woke up, realized buying cars beyond their means wasn’t wise. Sorry dude, you’re not getting that 2015 Infiniti Q50. But for a second-car, or grocery-getter, or Nissan’s primary target-market – the city-lifestyle, point A-to-B consumer – you can get into a nibble Japanese-quality, European-styled sub-compact for $9,998 CAD MSRP.

New Micra Key Impressions:

  • The cabin is roomy. The bulbous roofline accommodates this, while a recessed roofline inside creates a cavity of extra headspace.
  • The control stack is planned well, and the design (from materials to dials/buttons) is simple yet stylish without overdoing it with oversized buttons and switches (which seemed to be the small-car trend recently).
  • The steering-wheel controls in the higher trims integrate into the leather-wrapped wheel well. Again, not cheesy.
  • Handles well at higher speeds, and turning sharp turning radius a plus for city driving; and impressively quiet cabin at higher speeds
  • The jump from base $9,998 to next-step up with automatic transmission is fairly steep, an increase of over $3,000. But for those happy with base-trim, the value is incredible.
  • Exterior has grown on me. Rear-end, three-quarter view is sporty with nice lines. But frontend design is more on the cute-side; likely appeal to the global-market. Overall, a well-designed exterior with cleaner, sportier, straight lines (i.e. not bubbly shmabbly)
  • By no means a sporty car, nor is it really trying to be
  • Decent power and impressively good handing worthy congested city driving yet surprising well on the highway, both performance and noisy-free cabin at higher speeds

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Micra makes a comeback

As Nissan’s reprimand for abandoning Canadians for over twenty-years to gas-guzzling, Micra-for-breakfast SUVs and their compact-sized offspring, this new 2015  Micra finds tweaks tailored to the Canada-market. Or rather the Quebec-market, where Nissan expects to sell around 50% of all national Micras. But let’s not get all political. With features like rear heater ducts to keep backseat toes warm; heated outside mirrors; and 60/40 split rear seats, we all win. And we’re all cold — Mother Nature doesn’t discriminate. Above all, the new Micra finds wheels in either 15-inch or 16-inch to accommodate most snow tires sizes. If you really want to get all Ann Coulter, the 2015 Micra won’t be available in the US anytime soon.

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Micra Machines: The different trims

Three trims and eight-models of the 2015 Nissan Micra are available: the Micra S, Micra SV, and the spicer Micra SR, with customization packages for each (exterior colours, side sill graphic, side mirror coloured cap…).

Micra S

At the entry $9,998, the Micra S finds a 5-speed manual. At a significant price increase, add a 4-speed automatic transmission to $13,298 Micra S, with added cruise control and air-conditioning.

Micra SV

If you’re spending $13,298 on Micra S, borrow a few bucks and get the $13,698 Micra SV instead. The extra funds deliver Bluetooth, front/rear power windows, body-coloured handles, heated power outside mirrors, steering wheel controls, power lock with remote keyless, six-way driver’s seat and cargo cover.

….$16,748 top-end Nissan Micra SR is about mid-level Nissan Versa.

The only catch? You have to drive stick. Micra SV is available in manual only; add $1000 for automatic. Perhaps the Micra S 4AT and $1400 savings is worth it? When you’ve worked hard and saved up ten-grand for a car (or straightup, you’re an unashamed brokeass, and good for you) I’m pretty sure this buying-decision magnifies. At least it will have A/C! For those able to spend a little more, add a $500 Convenience Package to this Micra SV with the most notable upgrade: a rearview monitor system. A good thing to have in tight urban centres (for that matter, all hostile suburban, big-box parking lots). The package also adds a 4.3-inch audio display with USB and iPod connectivity.

Micra SR

The top-priced 2015 Micra rings in at $16,748. This includes $1,000 for the automatic transmission upgrade, plus a long list of sportier appointments including 16-inch machined and black-painted alloys, fog lights, a good dose of exterior fascia style upgrades, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel inside.

 

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Nissan Micra Pricing

For the Nissan Micra vs  Nissan Versa price-conscious, the highest-trim Micra will get you the median priced Versa….$16,748 top-end Micra SR is about mid-level Versa. So certainly worth a comparison. Here’s the 2015 Nissan Micra pricing (Canadian dollars):

Micra S – 5-speed manual > $9,998

Micra S – 4-speed automatic > $13,298

Micra SV – manual > $13,698 ($14,198 w/ $500 Conven.Pkg)

Micra SV – automatic > $14,698 ($15,198 w/ $500 Conven.Pkg)

Micra SR – manual > $15,748

Micra SR – automatic > $16,748 Add $1,400 for freight and PDE.

Nissan Micra Buying Program

In order to entice new Nissan customers while making it feasible for cash-strapped consumers to perhaps buy their first car, the automaker is offering Canadians three buyer programs, including the First Time Buyer Program, Nissan Grad Program, and the New Canadian Program  inadvertently helping newcomers build good credit.

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2015-nissan-micra-review-3Driving Impressions – Performance and Handling

Built on Nissan’s global V-platform, and powered by a 1.6L DOHC, 16-valve, 4-cylinder engine, the 2015 Nissan Micra offers 109 efficient horses and 107-lb.ft of torque. On the highways, going at liberal speeds and passing cars a little, the new Micra handled well with decent power when needed, even at higher speeds. But don’t let our track-style Micra shots lead to you to believe this is a sporty car; which it is not, nor is it trying to be. I first drove the base Micra S with auto transmission; while it drove well I’d probably opt for the 5-speed manual at the significant savings, particularly if your Micra is a downtown-dweller, where the benefits of a stick-shift, dropping gears zipping around town, would be huge. Great turning radius. Zipping around town and getting in-and-out of tight back alley spaces (or nestled between two F150s at a suburban Chilis lot), every sub-compact needs to, or appears to be the case according to the volume automakers entering the segment, accommodate the needs of the urban driver (or suburbanite all frogger-style during busy, morning commute). Fuel economy improvements include a dual injector system that burns cleaner using less fuel than conventional single injector design.

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Micra Cabin Details

Inside, the 2015 Micra front seats are 4-way adjustable; SV and SR find front seats with height adjustment and with attached armrest. Also including rear seats fold-down 60/40 split; heater with rear heating duct; and always-welcome cup holders for rear passengers. Standard audio includes CD/radio 4 speaker system with available upgrades like 4.3-inch display and USB input.

The Takeway

Nissan joins the subcompact party late, where the likes of the Chevy Spark, Ford Fiesta, and Mazda2 have been available. As this small car market evidently continues to grow, Nissan’s late entry is at the right time with the latest goods and technology.

But this isn’t about market-timing; for a quality-driven Japanese automaker producing classics from the Datsun 300Z to the badass, sports-sedan Maxima, the car-shopping consumer including first-time car buyers and price/fuel-conscious, are all getting into a Nissan-Japanese-quality car at affordable price-points (again, 2015 Micra S is Canada’s lowest MSRP car). Compared to the competition, I think this gives the 2015 Micra an edge. And though I haven’t reviewed all the competition in this class, I suspect I’d feel the same way when up against Nissan-quality.

For the entry-price $11,398 (base plus $1400 freight), with low monthly payments (around $200/month with one of their financing plans) the 2015 Nissan Micra hits all the points including a spacious well-designed interior with cargo, enough power with uncompromising handling, stylish design with clean lines and fuel-economy, all warranted at an affordable price. The Nissan pedigree in the 2015 Micra is the game-changer. The late entry is only an added bonus. And ultimately, the consumer wins.

Nissan Micra Photos: