Smart ForFour vs Nissan Micra

Small, light and cheap to run – these cars from Nissan and Smart have the lot!

Green is the word! Small, eco-friendly cars are selling like hotcakes, while the rest of the market is suffering.
And although Hollywood A-listers are buying hybrids as if there’s no tomorrow, those in the know prefer small, light cars, with low emissions and top-notch fuel economy.

Cue the diesel-powered Nissan Micra and the petrol-engined Smart ForFour. Both offer low running costs, but which is the better choice?

If you want to stand out from the crowd, then the Smart is the one for you. The two-tone paint scheme, double headlamps and quirky, but quality, cabin make it cute and fashionable. There isn’t much space in the rear, but the bench slides back and forth to alter legroom or bootspace.

Emissions of 138g/km and an average of 48.7mpg are not to be sniffed at, either, although there are more eco-friendly motors around.

However, the Smart takes a lead when recycling is taken into account. Up to 90 per cent of the whole car can be reused at the end of its life.

On the road, the Smart can’t quite match the Micra’s fuel economy, but its driving experience is more involving, with a tight, nimble ride.

The Nissan’s diesel-sipping nature is its trump card – it averages 62.3mpg, and if you drive gently it will
even nudge 70mpg! Emissions are also lower at 119g/km, which means £35 annual road tax, too.

As with the Smart, the Micra gets an adjustable rear seat to maximise leg or bootspace, and the dash is user-friendly, if a little dull. In SX spec it gets plenty of equipment including auto headlights, keyless entry and parking sensors, which are usually found only on top models in this sector.

The Micra also isn’t far behind the Smart in the recycling stakes. Up to 85 per cent can be turned into new products when it’s scrapped.

Top fuel returns, low tax and a starting price of £3,950 for an early 2003 SX model make it extremely tempting. The Micra is also three insurance groups lower than the Smart, which means another big saving.

With prices starting at £4,875 for the earliest 2004 1.3-litre ForFours, it’s hard to choose the Smart over the Nissan.But don’t rule it out completely, as it offers decent driver appeal, andis a real eye-catcher, too.

Specifications

Smart ForFour Passion
(2004-2008)
Engine: 1.3-litre 4cyl, 95bhp
Insurance group: Six
Economy: 48.7mpg
CO2: 138g/km
Prices: From £4,875
Why? Tough looks, 90 per cent
recyclable, sound build quality, entertaining dashboard and fun to drive. Not as economical as Micra, though.

Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi SX
(2003-2008)
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl, 81bhp
Insurance group: Three
Economy: 62.3mpg
CO2: 119g/km
Prices: From £3,950
Why? Excellent fuel economy, low emissions, cheap tax, torquey engine, cheap to buy and reliable. Only drawback is that it’s less engaging to drive than Smart.

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