First Drive: Nissan Micra

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Step into the Micra and you’ll find a fairly airy environment – even on the lower spec cars with the black interiors. Like we’ve mentioned earlier, the Nissan Micra is available in four variants – XE, XE Plus, XL and XV. The XV is the variant with all the bells and whistles and is available with a grayish-beige interior finish. The plastic quality is really quite good, and the fit and finish on the dashboard trim bits are fairly consistent. Nissan have adopted a twin bubble dashboard design which no doubt, helps them lower manufacturing costs when doing a right and left hand drive variant, since the glovebox ‘bubble’ area and the instrument cluster area are identical in size and positioning which means that Nissan can use a single type of dashboard.

Nissan has paid special attention to the materials by finishing them in a matt finish which they call MicroGrain. This really ensures that the plastic trim bits don’t have a shiny cheap look to them and is really all about visual and tactile appeal. We quite like the black finish of the lower variants which will no doubt be easier to maintain and won’t show up mud spots and stains easily. The doorpads are a simple affair and we quite like the easy to grab door handles – which are finished in chrome on the XV variant. The driver’s side doorpad gets power window controls as well as a central-locking switch. The driver’s side power window is a one-touch express down/up. There are cupholders and a cubbyhole ahead of the shifter for knickknacks as well as a large bottle holder (for rear passenger use) behind the handbrake. The Micra has twin-gloveboxes with a central open storage area which will come in handy to store plenty of odds and ends.

The driver’s seat and the passenger seat are extremely comfortable places to be in. Seats are large and supportive and are well suited for even large frames. However, there is no seat height adjust on any of the models – even on the top end XV where we’d expect one. While we don’t think this should be a problem, since the Micra has excellent visibility and a short snout, some really short drivers may just have an issue. The rear seat is comfortable too and the car is roomier inside than it looks at first sight. Even someone as tall as six feet will have a good four inches of headroom to spare when seated at the rear. However, all variants of the Micra lack adjustable rear headrests and the lower variants don’t even get the shaped headrests in the seat-back squab which the XV has. The Micra really is better off as a comfortable four-seater and squeezing in three well-fed people in the rear will be a little uncomfortable and quite cramped.

The center console houses an in-dash CD/MP3 radio receiver with an Aux-In so you can hook up your MP3 player or iPod. All variants, except the base XE, get this audio kit with four speakers (in the doors) as standard. Just below the Audio system are the air-conditioning controls. In the XV it’s a delightful circular themed affair with a display in the center to tell you what the automatic climate control is doing. It’s a rather friendly looking, easy to use, unit with large clearly marked buttons, which will be a hit – especially with the geriatric. The air-con vents are circular and can be shut to stop airflow. Thanks to their circular shape and position, they provide a vortex of air to the rear seats and help cool the cabin effectively. A few things we really missed on the inside were the fact that no trim levels comes with seatback pockets, rear door pockets and  vanity mirror on the sun visors. The 226 litre boot is quite usable (the XV has a parcel tray and a boot lamp) and has a fairly low loading height. The rear seatback folds forward to make more room, but there is no split rear seat which would have increased flexibility.

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