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Nissan Micra

We've got a bubble car on our long-term fleet. Well, not really, but that seems to be most people's reaction to our latest acquisition. I can see what they're getting at, though; the Nissan Micra does have a certain cute and cuddly appearance, especially in its bright Paprika paintwork. Everyone agrees the colour really suits the Micra and gives it even more of a sense of character.

  • Styling and paintwork, fuel economy and performance, spacious interior, keyless entry
  • Curved rear glass distorts view out, too many beeps, engine vibration at idle
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We've got a bubble car on our long-term fleet. Well, not really, but that seems to be most people's reaction to our latest acquisition. I can see what they're getting at, though; the Nissan Micra does have a certain cute and cuddly appearance, especially in its bright Paprika paintwork. Everyone agrees the colour really suits the Micra and gives it even more of a sense of character.
But that wasn't my first concern - I was more worried the Nissan would be a city car pure and simple, unable to cope with all the paraphernalia my young family has to haul around. The road testers convinced me otherwise, and I've been pleasantly surprised - first and foremost by the amount of space inside, especially the driving environment.
At 6ft 1in and 15 stone, I'm not a small chap, yet there's lots of elbow space and more headroom than I can remember being offered in any other car of a similar size. It's very comfortable, too, with an excellent driving position - although the flat seats lack some lateral support.
I know that in terms of practicality the Micra is not as generously proportioned as a Honda Jazz, but so far I've had no cause for complaint. A weekend trip to Camber Sands in East Sussex demonstrated the boot is able to swallow beach gear, and on the way home we even had room for a supermarket shopping expedition. Since I've got a young son, I'm also reassured by how robust the Micra feels, with not a trace of a rattle or squeak in the first six weeks of ownership.
However, for the first week OE04 VXW was with us, I didn't even get a look in. A colleague borrowed the Nissan and ran it in, completing 900 miles in five days and reporting that motorway refinement was excellent, although the car does get buffeted a bit by crosswinds. Another thing that has impressed us since day one is the fuel economy. Even with the engine yet to loosen up, the trip computer indicated a 53.5mpg average, which has translated into an actual figure of 50.1mpg - and we can't see it dropping any lower.
But the 1.5 dCi diesel engine isn't only appreciated for its economy. It's punchy and flexible, with only a slight vibration through the steering wheel at idle to upset the peace and quiet. The gearchange is snappy, and the ride and handling are both good - in short, the Micra is a delight to drive.
That doesn't mean I have no complaints, though. More than one person has noted that the curved rear window distorts the view slightly, making it tricky to judge distances when reversing, and the thick A-pillars obscure forward vision.
More annoying is the Micra's different beeps for every occasion. If you dare turn the ignition on without first securing your seatbelt, or turn it off before the headlights, the Nissan sounds like an arcade machine. One gadget I didn't think I'd get on with is the keyless start - but I've been converted. The fact you can approach the car with bags of shopping and open the doors without having to fumble for the key is great. Once inside, all you do is twist the ignition barrel to start it. As simple as it sounds, it's technology that works.

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Creative director

As Creative director, Darren predominantly looks after the Auto Express magazine; whilst consulting for LRM, Evo and Enzo. He manages everything from photography briefs to layout and logo design. Darren has worked in the motoring industry for over 25 years and loves it.  e-mail: darren_wilson@dennis.co.uk

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