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Nissan Micra K12 160SR and Sport + DCI 2005 Road Test

Wed, 20 Jul 2005

This started off as a test of Nissan’s bargain priced MINI-rivalling K12 Micra 160SR, but got side-tracked by a very pretty little Sport + diesel. Please bear with me.

I’ve heard the Micra describes as “so cute, it’s like a baby.” But that statement is colour-sensitive. In sparkling mica baby blue it does look impossibly cute. It’s really good in pastel cream as well. And the cars have colour co-ordinated interiors with cream pseudo bakelite heater switches and little retro touches learned from the Figaro that lift them from being just another small car into something altogether more stylish. People buy Micras because they like them, not because they think they think they have to have one.

The 160SR comes with stiffer, lower suspension, dynamic ESP, deep front spoiler with integrated projector fog lamps, body coloured roof and side spoilers, dark tinted headlamps and graphite finished 16" alloys. Also, side-curtain airbags, aluminium pedals, white dials, Intelligent key, six-speaker CD system, automatic wipers and lighting plus air-conditioning all as standard.

The test car was a fiery metallic red, seemingly intended to bring out the devil in it. And in order to give Micras a bit more street cred in this respect the company has done a totally bonkers version with a 350Z V6 where the back seats ought to be, very much in the style of the RenaultSport Clio V6. That little monster does 150mph plus and 0-60 in under 5 seconds. The Micra 160SR isn’t quite as quick.

It will manage 114mph and gets from 0-60 in 9.5 seconds, which is about the same as a MINI Cooper. Except it doesn’t do it the same way. Start the engine and there’s no rorty exhaust note, just an extremely bland, refined sort of noise. Not sporty at all. And that’s the way it drives. It does the job. Handles decently enough. Is very nicely trimmed inside. But doesn’t raise your pulse rate above tickover. Just a tweak to the exhaust system would have done the job. After all, it is a twin-cam 16v. It could sound like a Mazda MX5 if Nissan wanted it to. But maybe they have done their research and found that the young women drivers who are sending Figaro prices skyrocketing just don’t want that sort of thing.

So, having neither been shaken nor stirred I brought the 160SR back and started falling for the pastel-shaded, colour-coordinated charms of the Sport + model. In particular, an 82PS 1.5 diesel in that adorable baby blue.

Out on the road its gutsy Renault engine gave more character then the 160SR. The handling was a bit softer, the upside of which is better ride comfort. And the soft pastel interior suited the character of the car a lot better than the harsh black of its Street Racer brother. At £9,895 it’s only £100 less, but at 62.3mpg combined v/s 42.8 and Group 3 v/s Group 6 insurance, if I had the money it would go on the Sport + diesel.

Quick link to original test of Micra for reference:

/road_tests/index.htm?id=69

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