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Old 12th December 2010, 17:52   #1
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Default Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00028.jpg

List Price ex showroom (on road) Delhi:
  • XV=5,58,500 (6,17,979)
  • XV=6,04,500 (6,85,371)
Specifications:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-untitled1.jpg

Standard Equipment levels:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-untitled12.jpg

What works:
  • Fresh out of box quirky design, a hit with ladies
  • Extremely user friendly nature
  • Rev friendly, torquey DCI motor
  • Brilliantly calibrated diesel engine with zero turbo lag
  • Optimal ride and handling combination
  • High quality build, fit and finish
What needs work:
  • Questionable price tag; absence of safety features (ABS and passenger airbag) is shocking
  • Stingy equipment levels (USB port, steering mounted audio controls driver's seat height adjust missing)
  • Engine noise at speed
  • Nissan's wafer thin service network
Bottom line:
  • Jack of all trades, master of none, one of the best all round diesel hatches in India let down by high price. Not a complete package though, but comes dangerously close to it.
Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00082.jpg

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Old 12th December 2010, 18:06   #2
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Dieselogical Micra

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00058.jpg

The Nissan micra, launched in mid'10 is a runaway success. Despite the wafer thin dealership network, it consistently sells over 1000 units per month and many consumers in general liked its overall user friendly nature. It can be called as the "dark horse" in the small car race.
But perhaps Nissan wanted more slice of the brutally contested small car pie. The success of micra is not only critical for nissan's fledgling India operations, it will also be critical for long term future of the now ubiquitous Renault-nissan alliance, which has invested millions in its huge state of the art plant near Oregadam, Chennai. CMD Carlos Ghosn is a man on a mission and for him, any venture should mean success at all costs, especially after the disastrous alliance with mahindra.
Also critical will be Nissan's capabilities as a small car manufacturer not only for the world's second largest compact car market (India), but also at a global level as India is one of the four plants where micra is manufacturered and exported to many overseas nations, many of them quality conscious.

The launch of micra DCi couldn't have come an sooner. Ford figo's surprise success as a VFM diesel hatch and with the danger from i20 diesel's lower priced variants looming over the horizon, the timing is perfect as the car is positioned between the blue oval and the slant H. Plonking of the big 1.5 renault K9K diesel motor from the logan seemed relatively easy as the motor was already localized and proven in India as a reliable workhouse.

The specs on paper may not be terribly impressive, but as one said, "don't judge the book by its cover." But the big question remains-how is it to drive as an everyday car on Indian roads? Can it make the cut and cut the throat of its other 8 competitors?

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00072.jpg

Perhaps its time to spray and prey. Read on to find out.

Last edited by sidindica : 12th December 2010 at 18:12.
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Old 12th December 2010, 18:07   #3
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

This is a car which may make Nissan's presence finally felt. Hope they spruce up & add to their dealer network.



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Old 12th December 2010, 18:29   #4
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Design and engineering:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00034.jpg

The micra for India is on its 4th generation, built on a very innovative "V" platform which goes back to basics and the main motive is to keep the car as light as possible. The number of components used are considerable less as compared to many cars and earlier generation micras and this has bought down manufacturing complexities considerably. The micra is one of the lightest cars in its class and this tradition carries forward in the diesel version too. The design surely stands out in a sea of mundane looking hatches and has its personality of its own.

The front end is particularly bold and striking with huge matiz like headlights and a gaping oval shaped grill with chrome bar. Somehow the front resembles a cayenne from some angles and has a bold and a confident stance, helped by a solid looking front bumper with understated airdam design. It looks particularly striking in red and orange shades, the orange more so.
The curvilinear design works well on side and standing on 15" alloys (on XV premium only) the design looks more balanced and quirkiness is lessened to some extent. the curvy window profile and low beltline lends an impression of airiness inside.
The rear is a love it or a hate it design, like many new age Jap hatches. Mini cooper inspired retro taillights look brilliant and so does the curvy tailgate, if a bit bland and chapta. the high set rear bumper helps to disguise visual bulk and improves the overall stance.

The simple chassis is suspended by convectional McPherson strut suspension at the front and semi independent torsion beam at the rear. Anti roll bars are standard all round (told by the salesperson) for enhanced stability. The diesel XV premium also gets a standard rear spoiler for enhanced looks, but a shocking omission of essential safety equipment like Anti lock braking system and a passenger side airbag is glaringly obvious and can be potential deal breakers especially on a car costing as much as an I 20 and more than the figo. Thankfully, like all petrol models, a driver side airbag is standard.

Exterior highlights:


Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00029.jpg
Striking front end reminescent of a cayenne.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00030.jpg
XV premium gets 15" alloys as standard.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00055.jpg
Base XV does with 14" steel wheels and covers.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00051.jpg
rear end of base model looks bland and uninspiring.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00032.jpg
spoiler and orange enhances looks considerably.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00033.jpg
another view of XV premium, stance improved considerably on 15".

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00035.jpg
curvilinear design is obvious from this angle, especially the roof and the C pillar.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00036.jpg
Striking angle, surely a hit with the ladies.

Last edited by sidindica : 12th December 2010 at 18:35.
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Old 12th December 2010, 19:04   #5
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Interiors, space and comfort:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00045.jpg

Climb into the high quality interior and the first thing that strikes you is a completely different ambiance, quirky and unconventional yet somewhat lovable. The rounded theme is carried over to the inside and the entire dashboard looks pretty radical with rounded centre console dominating the design. Ergonomically it will take time used to but after much acquaintance, its easy to use. For those balking at Nissan's oversight of using chrome logo on the steering wheel, there's good news, a leather wrapped steering wheel, gear knob and chrome "Nissan" corporate logo is standard.

The base XV gets manual air conditioning whilst the premium gets standard automatic climate control, intuitive to use. While chilling Delhi winters is not the best time to judge the cooling, the climate control in general has got positive reviews. An integrated audio system with aux-in and CD MP3 is standard but absence of a USB port or steerage mounted audio controls is another oversight, something which a half a lakh cheaper ford figo provides as standard (USB dongle can be ordered as an accessory for the figo though). Sound quality is nothing to write home about though for classical music and retro soft pop listeners like me, it does its job well from its door mounted 4 speakers. Two large glove boxes, three cup holders and two bottle holders will take care of your knick knacks.

The front seats are very comfy though under thigh support needs some additional bolstering to be called for. Thankfully, adjustable head restraints at front are standard (thankfully) and steering is tilt adjust, standard on both XV models. Sadly, height adjustment is still not standard which means that short drivers have to crane their neck over the high mounted dashboard. The instrument cluster is simple and legible, consisting of 5000 redlined tacho, speedo and a digital fuel gauge with a trip computer plus fuel consumption indicator is standard. Temp gauge is absent though.

The front seats have a very long travel so legroom at front is enormous and for a 5"10 driver like me, I can stretch my legs fully and drive, a welcome feature as compared to my santro's dreadful leg space and pedal placement. As usual, no dead pedal provided which would have made long drives more easier, though pedal placement is decent and pretty well spaced out.

Coming to the rear, the XV premium gets some additional under thigh bolstering (base model has flat seat) which makes it pretty comfortable, though the almost-upright angle of inclination can pose a problem for long distance traveling. Also, the neck restraints are placed too low to prevent any injury in the event of a whiplash and best suited to short passengers. This seat design needs a serious rethink. Nissan, are you listening? Legroom, though is better than the ford and for chauffeur driven, the co driver seat can be slided forward to release enormous legroom. The Indica Vista still writes the rules for comfort and space, but overall cushioning in the micra is leagues better than the hard edged rear bench of the i20.
Shoulder room is only better for two persons at best and a medium sized third person can be accommodated but only for short distances. Any more and you have to look elsewhere.

Boot space of 251 litres is on par with this segment and more than adequate for intra city trips, though split folding seats (not standard) would have increased versatility. The rear bench tilts down for additional space, if needed.

Interior Highlights:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00041.jpg
Rounded greige themed interior design with striking console.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00038.jpg
another view of the dashboard.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00049.jpg
Leather wrapped steering wheel with chrome logo, power adjust and electric retract OSRVM standard.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00039.jpg
Front seats have decent cushioning and amazing legroom.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00040.jpg
Rear seats a mixed bag and offer decent, not class best comfort. Legroom more than adequate.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00042.jpg
Keyless go with engine start/stop button standard on both XV models.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00044.jpg
Funky looking audio HU and HVAC controls (automatic)

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00074.jpg
Simple and legible instrumentation.

Last edited by sidindica : 12th December 2010 at 19:09.
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Old 12th December 2010, 19:35   #6
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
XV=5,58,500 (6,17,979)[*]XV=6,04,500 (6,85,371)
For most people, this would be the deal-breaker. No matter how good the car is, in the rest of the review! They have gone wrong with the pricing, and the positioning of the Micra, IMO!

The Logan diesel was a good engine to drive around city with minimal lag. This could have been a very good package, but for the price!
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Old 12th December 2010, 19:43   #7
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Engine, performance and gearbox:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00046.jpg

The key to life is no key. No, its not my statement but what Ranbir Kapoor keeps on murmuring consistently on micra ads, laying emphasis on the micra's "smart key" with keyless-GO feature.
(All about that gadget can be read on the micra's official TD thread.)

Open the door with the help of a request sensor, press the clutch, start the engine by pushing the engine start/stop button and the workhorse roars to life. Idle is a bit clattery but even on bitter cold, it was not annoying with no hint of NVH at the gearbox or the pedals. Under bonnet insulation is again shockingly not provided as it would have lowered the noise levels further. But this is one of rare mass market diesel motors which can smoothly rev to its 5200 rpm idle redline despite having a old school SOHC 8V layout.

This 1461 cc 4 pot (thankfully) motor produces its peak power of 64 horses at 4000 rpm and a decent torque output of 16.3 Kg-M at a high-ish 2000 rpm.
Compared to multijet, this may prove to be an inherent disadvantage. But don't be fooled by the modest power and torque output. On the road, its a completely different animal.

Similar to Ford's TDCI motor, this engine has absolutely close to zero turbo lag and is extremely driveable in dense city traffic, with the car's light kerb weight also playing a key role here. Throughout the rev range, you are aware of whats under the hood though at high speeds the noise smoothens considerably. Its not the motor's output that matters but the way its tuned to he car's chassis smacks of sheer brilliance and the effort to strike a perfect balance between power and fuel efficiency by Nissan's engneers has paid off. The swift, indica vista and punto's motors suffer from annoying turbo lag bwlow 1700 rpm but the micra's engne is all singing and dancing at the mere tap of the throttle pedal, even at third gear while starting from the traffic light. Yep, you read that right. I tried to accelerate from third gear and the car pulls cleanly without stalling.

The light clutch (comparable to the i10 petrol) and light controls make this one of the most user friendly diesel hatches around, and I would surely recommend women to try this car out, they won't be disappointed. 0-100 is reached in about 15 seconds but feels faster than its acceleration times suggest, simply because power delivery remains linear throughout its rev range of 1500-4000 rpm. With proper run in, it ca surely compete with swift for outright performance, if not beat it.

The vista and punto (even 90 HP) are not in this race. These cars have to be whipped to get it to perform. At 4000 rpm plus, power tapers off but not rapidly as in the ford's TDCi mill. Acceleration through the gears is staggering and the box is also fun to work with smooth and precise shifts. Want to overtake? Shift down to third, accelerate gently and the car wallops forward beyond 100 in no fuss. I doubt nissan's claims about its HP figures and still think that they are underestimating this brilliantly calibrated motor's ratings. Refinement is decent and the motor is a delight to rev throughout its range.

Mark my words, I have lost count of how many wheelspins I had incurred as a result of all that torque. For dense and medium to heavy Delhi traffic, this is a perfect diesel hatch to chuck around. Once used to it, this motor can get a bit addictive to diesel fans. The car's cruising ability makes it a brilliant highway mile muncher and well spaced gear ratios actually make you wonder that you are driving a semi-automatic car.

Overall, after a lacklustre petrol, the brilliantly calibrated diesel motor and gearbox is one of the strongest points of this car.

Engine highlights:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00047.jpg
Neatly presented engine bay...

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00048.jpg
...even if its a tight fit.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00078.jpg
simple Direct Commonrail Injected 8V SOHC layout.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00073.jpg
This is at 4th gear. Note the tacho. No jerks or stalling.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00064.jpg
Time to fun-rev, it goes smoothly till 4000 at 5th gear.

Last edited by sidindica : 12th December 2010 at 19:47.
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Old 12th December 2010, 19:55   #8
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Quote:
Originally Posted by sidindica View Post
  • XV=5,58,500 (6,17,979)
  • XV=6,04,500 (6,85,371)
Doesnt this fall bang into Punto/Polo territory for the XV+ and the EP+/Comfortline there would make more sense any days with all the safety features?

I feel that dropping ABS & Airbags in the top end model is a big mistake when compared to all the top end versions of other cars in that range though I have no clue if the average Indian buyer evaluates this but I would like to think that the average Indian buyer is now becoming more conscious of features like this.

Last edited by aniketvu : 12th December 2010 at 20:04.
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Old 12th December 2010, 19:56   #9
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

This is just unacceptable. How can Nissan delete Airbags and ABS from even the top-end trim for the diesel variant? And then price it like that? When there are several other oil-burning hatchbacks in the same price-bracket that are well equipped, with Airbags et al, I'm not able to fathom the reason for the omission of essential safety features! Nissan will have to rethink this move. Great post, Sid. Keep up the good work!

Last edited by suhaas307 : 12th December 2010 at 19:59.
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Old 12th December 2010, 20:07   #10
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Ride, handling and breaking:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00037.jpg

Riding on low pro 175/60 R15 tyres, the XV premium rides decently. Stiffer front suspension to counter to the additional weight of the diesel motor has made it ride somewhat better than the petrol, despite having lower profile rubber. Low and middle speed ride is consistent and well muted, better than many japanese hatches and a wee bit better than the i20 also. Its only at large potholes where it can't hold a candle to the Europeans. Passengers do tend to get jostled at speeds over 70 but not really that serious that can be called as a deal breaker. But yes, the higher the speeds go, the quality of ride does tend to somewhat deteriorate. Stability at straight line is decent though the punto, polo, figo D and fabia are leagues ahead in this respect.

The upside of 15" wheels is better handling, predictable and actually the car is immensely chuck able and fun to drive for an everyday commuter. though not figo,punto and fabia perfect, the electric power steering is very well caliberated and feels nicely weighted at mid to high speeds, though higher you go, correction is somewhat required to keep the car planted. At city speeds, the steering is decently light (not overtly light like the marutis and hyundais with EPS) but more "santro-like". In other words, the steering feels communicated to the chassis and you know at which direction the car is directed to. This is one of those rare Asian diesel hatches which feels immensely fun to drive despite having EPS and unlike the ruros which beg for more power, the engine-to-chassis-to-steering caliberation is perfectly optimised for everyda use, just what an avarage Indian diesel small car buyer would want if ease of driving is high on his priority list.

If outright fun to drive factor in a diesel hatch is high on priority, then its punto that's leagues ahead, followed by figo and closely followed my micra DCI.

Braking again is decent though ABS is really the need of the hour, especially considering the performance and handling capabilities of this hatch. Wheels tend to lock easily, though panic braking is well controlled, thanks to generously sized front brake discs. ABS option would only make the braking much better. Brake fade was not noticeable, so I would reserve my comments until we hear from owners.

GC was not a problem on XV premium model as the car did not scrape its underbelly, inspite of two fat persons sitting a the back and me the sole person driving the car.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00057.jpg
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Old 12th December 2010, 20:13   #11
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Quote:
Originally Posted by aniketvu View Post
Doesnt this fall bang into Punto/Polo territory for the XV+ and the EP+/Comfortline there would make more sense any days with all the safety features?

I feel that dropping ABS & Airbags in the top end model is a big mistake when compared to all the top end versions of other cars in that range though I have no clue if the average Indian buyer evaluates this but I would like to think that the average Indian buyer is now becoming more conscious of features like this.
Quote:
Originally Posted by suhaas307 View Post
This is just unacceptable. How can Nissan delete Airbags and ABS from even the top-end trim for the diesel variant? And then price it like that? When there are several other oil-burning hatchbacks in the same price-bracket that are well equipped, with Airbags et al, I'm not able to fathom the reason for the omission of essential safety features! Nissan will have to rethink this move. Great post, Sid. Keep up the good work!

I think there is a mistake in the spec sheet cos' i think i can see on the steering wheel "SRS AIRBAG". Can sid confirm this?
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Old 12th December 2010, 20:21   #12
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Buying and owning:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00054.jpg

Nissan has very optimistically priced the micra DCI between 5.58 and 6.04 lakhs (ex showroom delhi), bang in between the top end figo diesel and the mid level i20 crdi. the pricing would sure raise many eyebrows, especially when its immediate competitors like the swift, the vista, the figo and i20 will be compared. Polo and fabia are selling decently so these two EU players will also be on the shopping list of the buyers. Nissan does have the right product that's very well suited for our market but its some questionable cons that far outweigh the pros, manly the wafer thin 25 dealership network, maintenance costs and most importantly, absence of ABS and passenger airbag, especially since more cheaper competitors offer them as standard on top end models.

Yes, in this mileage conscious market, the figure of CMVR certified 23.08 kmpl will surely lure buyers in showrooms but today the market has matured a lot. Based on driving style, all diesel hatches return figures on a similar ballpark and this USP will hardly be a deal maker. Even the keyless-go feature is more of a differentiation gimmik rather than a useful feature for an everyday car user and instead of wasting money on this, it cold have better be spent on giving the safety features as standard, at least on XV premium model. Maybe its Nissan's strategy to sell more petrols than diesels but since Indian market loves diesels, Nissan needs to seriously rethink its strategy.

As a confidence booster, nissan is offering a 4 year, 60,000 km warranty as standard on all micras (confirmed by the dealer) and dealership sales standard is upto mark, at least from what I experienced and being a Sunday, Nath Nissan did a commendable job of explaining me the car and arranging a comprehensive test drive. Nissan needs to have more dealers up and running ASAP as it would ease pressure on both sales and service personnel alike. Moreover, t would also help in increasing reach of the nissan brand.

Service and ownership costs are unknown but since the car is manufactured in Chennai, it should be at least reasonable.

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00052.jpg
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Old 12th December 2010, 20:44   #13
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Summing it up:

Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi-dsc00053.jpg

The nissan micra diesel blurs the fine line between what one wants and what one needs. Jack of all trades, master of none, its a brilliantly engineered urban and highway commuter that will satisfy most needs of lifestyle diesel hatch buyers. Sure, the engine may be lackluster on paper but on the road, it strikes a perfect balance between power, performance and refinement. Its a high quality, easy to drive and extremely user friendly diesel hatch which will make your driving easier, thus truly living to its tag of "drive simpler, live better".

However, the game has moved on and Nissan's omission of key safety features and questionable price tag, hampered by a wafer thin dealer network will be closely watched by the market and whether or not it will succeed, only time will tell. But for now, if the cons are overlooked, its an option worth considering and can be termed as a credible premium alternative to the figo TDCi.

As a product, the micra DCI ticks most of the right boxes and does fall a wee bit short on some areas. So, as a complete package, its not perfect, but still tendingly close to it.

As for nissan, its upto them to get their act together, market and sell it well.
But the question remains-have they missed the bus?
Perhaps, its time for your call. You, the customer, who's the king.

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Old 12th December 2010, 21:23   #14
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Overpriced!! Lets see how it performs on sales chart.
Does it has anything to go for over say a Ford Figo Diesel?

Last edited by HammerHead : 12th December 2010 at 21:25.
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Old 12th December 2010, 21:38   #15
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Default Re: Test Drive: Nissan Micra 1.5 DCi

Oh! Really overpriced. And extremely bad of Nissan in not providing ABS/ passenger airbag. Also, at this price, it directly competes with little more bigger hatches which do come with these safety features!
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