Review: Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010)

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Cute looks. Not very different from the Fiat 500.

Not much rear seat room and luggage room. Difficult to get into back of 3-door. Electrics can fail. Expensive faults especially with ABS. Serious failures can render it scrap.

Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010): At A Glance

"Ahhh....cute. It's like a baby." Those were my wife's words when she first caught sight of the frogeyed new Nissan Micra. Smart girl. She summed it up straight away.

Other small hatchbacks try to be chic, like the 206. Or stylish, like the Ibiza. Or retro, like the C3. Or solid, like the Polo. Or practical, like the Jazz. Or just plain efficient Fordy, like the Fiesta. But this is the first to put on such a sweet and friendly look that women want to hug it. They'd have to have a heart of stone not to fall for the Micra's Kermit-like cuddlyness.

Of course, that wasn't enough for Nissan. They want to sell 160,000 a year in Europe, so cute alone won't cut it against the intense opposition. (And I hadn't even mentioned the Yaris yet.) So they've taken a few leaves from other peoples books as well as their own to make sure women love the new Micra.

Safety was top of the list. So every new Micra has ABS with electronic brakeforce distribution and Nissan Brake Assist (of which, more later). They all have five proper three-point seatbelts. They all have driver and passenger airbags. They all have electric power steering. They all have single slot CD players. And the petrol fuelled models all have unburstable chain-cam 16v engines.


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What does a Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010) cost?

List Price from £14,195
Buy new from £12,405
Contract hire from £161.89 per month

Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010): What's It Like Inside?

Length 3719–3734 mm
Width 1660 mm
Height 1540 mm
Wheelbase 2430 mm

Full specifications

Inside, the dash-top is nice with a sort of skin-like fabric feel to it. The steering wheel is just the right size. There are clever cup holders and storage areas all over the place. Up-spec models have retro ivory-look switches, like the Nissan Figaro of ten years ago.

A sliding rear seat, to give more legroom or luggage room at the expense of each other, like the Renault Twingo and Toyota Yaris. A huge hidden removable bin under the passenger seat, like the Suzuki Wagon R.

And a massive compartmentalised glove locker with a drawer, somewhere for bottles, somewhere for all the nick-knacks you carry in a car. Even the door pockets are thought out, so that if you use them to store maps, the handle stops the map flopping over.

The Intelligent Key system is just like that of a Mercedes Benz S Class. Merely approaching the car with it in your pocket unlocks it, which is very handy if your hands are full. To start up, you just put a foot on the brake (for safety) and turn a switch. There's also an automatic from launch: not a CVT like the old Micra, but a conventional Jatco 4-speed torque converter electronic auto, because it's is lighter and cheaper than a CVT.

I'd also better make you aware that though the back seat slides forwards to provide more luggage space and the seatbacks fold, the seat cushions don't. So as is the case with the new Mazda 2, you can't achieve a perfectly flat floor.

Child seats that fit a Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010) like to drive?

It has class-leading ride quality, so good you're unaware of poor road surfaces that would feed straight through to your backside in a first generation Jazz. It steers and handles well rather than brilliantly. The gearchange is good (mainly because it's the same as the old Micra).

It's perky enough with the 1.2 or 1.4 litre engines (not much to choose between them: the 1.2 is sweeter, but the 1.4 has slightly more grunt). It ‘aims' well, through gaps between approaching traffic and your side of the road. The bobbles on top of the headlights help to direct it accurately when parking, and it has a very tight turning circle.

It is revving quite hard at speed, as both the 1.2 and 1.4 are geared to do around 18mph per 1,000 rpm in 5th. The benefit of this is that's its quite lively in 5th, but engine noise, especially in the 1.4, could become a bit wearing. Nevertheless, it's still reasonably economical. And if super-economy is your thing, from April you'll also be able to order the Micra with the 65bhp 1.5 litre direct injected Renault diesel engine from the Clio (an 82bhp version is due in September).

But now to the ABS with EBD and Brake Assist. There we were on the Via Sophia heading out of Rome behind an old Jag with a smashed-in back-end and, of course, no brake lights, when it suddenly stopped. My driver was right on it, reacted quickly and Brake Assist did the rest, bringing us to a safe stop about a metre behind the Jag. Not so the FIAT Stilo behind us, which rammed our poor Micra into pre-smashed Jag.

Thankfully no one was hurt (our Micra effectively became the Stilo's crumple zone and crumpled both ends). But perhaps a rear window sign like the old ‘CAUTION: AIR BRAKES' is in order. Something along the lines of ‘STAY BACK: STOPS QUICKLY' to keep errant FIATs out of Micra luggage compartment. Especially those with ‘L' plates practising emergency stops.

As you can see from the list, new Micra prices start at a very sensible £7,495, and insurance groups are low, so we could see more than a few ‘new' drivers in them. I've already recommended one to a lady wanting a car for her 17 year old daughter. Blokes might hesitate a bit, because it's not a blokey car.

On the other hand they might want to put over their caring sensitive, unaggressive nature, so it could be a bird puller too. Especially of girls who believe that inside every frog there's a handsome prince.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
1.2 16V 48 mpg 12.5–13.5 s 139 g/km
1.4 16V 45 mpg 11.9 s 154 g/km
1.5 dCi 60–61 mpg 10.9–11.9 s 120–125 g/km
1.6 16V 43 mpg 9.8 s 158 g/km
1.6 16V SR 43 mpg 9.8 s 158 g/km

Real MPG average for a Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

32–75 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Nissan Micra (2003 – 2010)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

Can you recommend a small, economical car to replace my ageing Micra?

I drive a Nissan Micra and it's getting old (2006, 110,000 miles) so I'm looking at what to buy next. I would like something similar regarding economy of fuel and reliability; nothing has ever gone wrong with my current car. However, I would really like to get something just slightly bigger so passengers are less squashed. I'm doubting I can improve upon the Micra, but value your opinion. The new Micra seems more flimsy in its body work, or am I wrong about this?
While the Micra used to be a really robust, reliable little car, it's true that the latest models don't have quite the same reputation. We'd recommend a Honda Jazz. It's a very reliable car and more practical than most small cars. Also consider a Hyundai i20 or Ford Fiesta.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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