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Used car focus: Nissan Micra – 2003 on

The current Nissan Micra set a new standard for small cars when it was launched in early 2003, and it’s still one of the best around. The looks may not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s well equipped, cheap to run and has some neat features (like keyless entry).

Line-up

All models have electric power steering, tilt-adjustable steering wheel, front electric windows, remote central locking, anti-lock brakes with EBD, driver and passenger airbags, three-point rear seatbelts, and a single CD/radio. S adds sidebags, three adjustable rear headrests and driver’s seat adjustment. SE models get ‘Intelligent Key’, drive computer and air conditioning. SX models have tinted headlamps, front fogs and electronic climate control with ‘ivory’ controls. SVE has ultrasonic park sensors in addition, while SR gets lower suspension and ESP.

Driving and performance

Micra is ideal for learner drivers. It’s easy to drive, with light, precise steering, a snappy gearchange and responsive controls. Push it hard and, understandably, there’s some body roll but it’s set up to be comfortable so it feels like a larger car. This gives an impressive ride, rather than sporty performance. Town drivers appreciate the tight turning circle.

Comfort

The interior is exceptionally roomy. The tall shape means there’s loads of headroom, although taller adult passengers may find the back a little bit of a squeeze. Legroom in the front and the back is good for the class and the cabin feels light and airy. All engines are refined under normal driving conditions, although the 160R is noisier than others when it’s pushed (although it’s not an unpleasant sound). Road rumble is kept low, although there can be some wind noise at speed.

Engines

The range kicks off with a 1.0-litre petrol, which offers good fuel economy (48mpg), but with just 64bhp, it can feel out of its depth away from town. The 1.2 (78bhp) suits Micra well and is capable on short motorway runs, but the 1.4 with 86bhp is a good option for the long distance driver. Two 1.5 diesel units are available, with 65 or 82bhp. Both offer serious economy (expect 60mpg+) and the more powerful of the two is good fun to drive. During the summer, Nissan added a bit of spice with the 160bhp 1.6-litre 160SR.

Safety

A good four-star score in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Generous levels of safety equipment including four airbags on all but the base E model. Intelligent Key stays in your pocket and allows the door to be opened and ignition started at a button’s touch.

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