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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nissan Micra: The No Frills Drive For You?

The market for superminis has exploded in popularity in recent years and shows no signs of wilting, thanks in part to the efforts of the manufacturers, thanks in part to the fact not many of us has enough disposable income these days to waste on large gas-guzzling execu-cars. Therefore the supermini has become a phenomenon, attracting consumer demographics that would have previously run a mile from a small, economical car. 5 years ago you would never have seen a senior marketing executive driving around in a Corsa, these days it's practically a requirement.

Needless to say, things have got slightly competitive within the supermini market, as one by one the majority of manufacturers have offered the buying public their interpretation of the ultimate supermini. Over the years some have triumphed (the Fiesta, the Corsa) and some have floundered (Citroen C2, Fiat Punto) but all have been jostling for any sizeable share of the market they can lay claim to. Throughout all this time, with the new-fangled styling of the Honda Jazz, Toyota Aygo, Seat Ibiza and all the relatively new boys, one name has been almost forgotten in the excitement. The name in question is the Nissan Micra.

The Nissan Micra has been a stalwart of the supermini category, having donned various guises since its UK inception in 1983. It has been, in recent years, slightly eclipsed by its showier, more flamboyant brethren. Nevertheless, the Nissan Micra has been providing fuss-free, reliable and enjoyable motoring to its owners throughout all this time and will continue to do so long into the future.

What makes the Nissan worthy of writing about is how it has remained an underdog in market terms, but has maintained a considerable fan base who continue to buy it. The Nissan Micra is essentially a practical car for the commuters or town and city drivers amongst us. It provides no frills driving at an affordable price.

It would be dishonest of me to write sentence after sentence proclaiming the Micra to have excellent handling, a peppy engine and all the style of a Louis Vuitton handbag, as it patently doesn't. But it was never supposed to. The Micra was an invention for those who simply want to get from A to B, in a reliable vehicle that won't end up costing them the earth to run. By its own modest parameters, the Micra is a resounding success.

This is probably a valid enough reason as to why the Micra has never set the world alight in terms of sales. The buying public seem more interested in buying (and paying over the odds for) cars that look the part rather than cars that adequately match their means and needs. It's definitely worth thinking about the amount of money you are spending on the badge when buying a car. In the same price brackets, engine performance rarely differs dramatically, especially at the lower cost end of the market.

In all honesty, if you are looking for comfort, luxurious surroundings, effortless cool and performance to match, you are most definitely in the wrong place. If, however, you just need a car that moves and does so cheaply, then you will be hard pushed to beat the Micra. As the popular saying goes, "it does exactly what it says on the tin."

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