Ten Point Test

Auto Trader Ten Point Test rating: 77%

Launched in 2003, the third generation Nissan Micra was a ground breaking supermini, setting a new benchmark in styling, practicality and value for money.

So how good is this eye-catching Japanese motor? Adrian Hearn gives his verdict.

1. Looks 8/10

It’s a bubble car for the 21st century. The curvaceous Micra and its cute looks strike a chord with fans of cutesy cars. While it’s only a supermini, it is quite high (1.55-metres) offering plenty of space for taller occupants. The steep rear end is complimented by the curvier front. The front lights fit well half way up the bonnet. We only had steel wheels on our motor, which is a bit of a disappointment considering the cost of the car.

2. Looks inside 6/10

The Micra has a funky interior, but was let down by everything being powder blue. The dials were easy to see and understand and the steering wheel benefited from controls for the CD player and trip computer.

3. Practicality 10/10

The Micra’s trump card. Being a supermini, it’s expected that space in the rear would be compromised to keep size down. But we comfortably transported four grown adults and there was still room. The tall roofline means people above six foot don’t have much trouble fitting in. Parking is simple with the light steering and excellent visibility. The boot is a competent 371 litres compared to rivals such as the Ford Fiesta (284 litres) and Vauxhall Corsa (285 litres). But with the seats folded down, the Micra is a much smaller than its competitors.

4. Ride and Handling 7/10

Its ride is smooth and handling is fine at low speed. There is quite a lot of roll on corners but it’s great for city and urban driving. However, driving at 70mph on the motorway, the Micra shows a few problems. With its high roofline, the car doesn’t feel too steady in cross-winds which caused a little concern.

5. Performance 8/10

Our 1.5-litre diesel model produces 84bhp and an excellent 147lb/ft pulling power (more than a 2-litre Ford Focus Zetec). This accelerates the Micra from 0-60mph in 11.9 seconds on to a top speed of just 106mph. But when the engine revs hit the optimum torque band of 1900rpm the Micra pulls brilliantly making it great for driving through urban areas and overtaking at lower speeds.

6. Running Costs 8/10

The entry level Micra starts from £7,495 for the 1.2-litre model, which is good value for a competent, reliable city car. But the model we tested with all the bells and whistles would cost £13,320. After the initial payment, running costs are reasonably low. Our model has a combined fuel economy of an excellent 60.1mpg and with carbon dioxide emissions of 125g/km, the Micra is in tax band B, meaning an annual bill of just £35. And for insurance group 3, buyers will benefit from low premiums.

7. Reliability 8/10

Nissan came seventh recently in a survey of the most reliable vehicles. The Micra felt well built and is unlikely to buck the Japanese carmaker’s successful trend.

8. Safety 8/10

The Micra is fitted with four airbags and boasts anti-lock brakes and EBD (electronic brake distribution) which adjusts the braking performance between the front and rear brakes. In the EuroNCAP crash test programme, the Micra was awarded four stars.

9. Equipment 7/10

Our model came with an integrated trip computer, air-conditioning, electric windows and electric mirrors. The CD player – which features six speakers – was very basic but served its purpose.

10. X-Factor 7/10

While the Micra broke the mould with its release in 2003, other manufacturers have caught up. It’s a good car boasting high levels of practicality and equipment, but at more than £13,000 it’s quite expensive.

Key facts

Model tested: Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi Spirita
On the road price: £13,320
Price range: £7,330 – £13,320
Date tested: April 2007
Road tester: Adrian Hearn