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What Car? says

4 out of 5 stars

For It’s cheap to buy and run, it's reliable and it has lively engines

Against Styling is a bit Noddy and safety kit is poor

Verdict It's got a Mumsy image and it's very basic, but it's a bargain to buy and own

Go for… 1.0 Twister 5dr

Avoid… 1.0 Profile 3dr

Nissan Micra Hatchback
  • 1. Micras are a byword for reliability, rating well in our Reliability Index and JD Power surveys
  • 2. Look out for poorly maintained cars that rattle at the top of the engine when idling
  • 3. Servicing is cheap and most spares are cheaper than average as well
  • 4. The Micra's small compared with many superminis. Space is good up front, but tight in the back
  • 5. The Micra gained just two stars out of five for occupant safety in Euro NCAP tests
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Nissan Micra Hatchback full review with expert trade views

This buzzy little town car is small compared with some more modern superminis, so cabin space is good up front, but tight in the back, while boot space isn’t great. The steering adjusts for height in all but the most basic models, and access to the rear can be a struggle in the three-door.

On the other hand, the car is easy and light to drive, and rides well. The 1.0 engine found in most examples feels lively in town, but is noisy and breathless on the motorway.

A driver airbag is standard on all models, as is a front passenger ‘bag on top-line cars. However, anti-lock brakes appear only if it has an auto gearbox or on a top-of-the-range model.

In fact, safety isn't that impressive overall. The Micra scored just two stars out of five for occupant safety in Euro NCAP test and two (out of four) for protecting pedestrians.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Automatic is the favoured gearbox for retail, ideally with 1.3 engine

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The simple rule is to buy as new a car as you can for the lowest price. Basic models accounted for almost all those sold new, and these are also the ones to get second-hand.

That said, Nissan packed the last cars of this generation of Micra with kit, so look for a 1.0 Twister on an 02 or 52 plate. This had central locking, air-con and even parking sensors, yet cost no more new than a lowly 1.0 S sold a year earlier. Micras with auto gearboxes are also little gems, but they sell fast.

A fair number have covered very low mileages – perhaps just 4000 a year. However, endless short trips can wear out major parts prematurely, so don’t pay extra for one, and watch that it has had annual servicing, no matter how little it was used.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Probably the most reliable small used car around - excellent build quality and reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Prices for this Micra are so low that depreciation is a worry left with past owners, and running costs aren't a problem, either.

Servicing is cheap and simple enough for any garage to do a proper job, which will save on main-dealer rates, and most spares are cheaper than average, too. The 1.0 engine has a chain cam that should last the life of the engine, whereas most rivals have cambelts that require (expensive) replacement after five years or so, so that’s more money saved.

Insurance groupings vary between lowly groups 3 and 5, according to the model, and fuel economy is strong - with up to 38mpg in town in the 1.0, you can expect an average of up to 47mpg. The 1.4 does almost as well with a manual gearbox, while an auto will be thirstier by about 5mpg.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Automatic is the favoured gearbox for retail, ideally with 1.3 engine

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Micras have become a byword for reliability, and rate well in the What Car? Reliability Index and in the JD Power customer satisfaction surveys.

In fact, most problems arise from poor maintenance rather than something going wrong on the car. Chief among these is timing chain wear, which usually happens because past owners have left it too long between changing the engine oil. A rattle from the top of the engine at idle signals big bills for a replacement chain tensioner, while misfires are often caused by condensation at the spark plugs.

Corroded brake discs are common, but replacements are cheap and simple to fit, and the pads should be renewed at the same time. Suspension knocks, too aren't too much of a worry. They're often the result of worn bushes, which are cheap and quick to fix.

More serious is rust in the front chassis cross member, which will eventually result in your car failing its MoT test. Replacement is possible, but expensive.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Probably the most reliable small used car around - excellent build quality and reliability

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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