Anybody here speak Micra?
Time accelerates as we get older, so one feels moderately for the youth of today. Take my work colleague, Sophie, who at 21 is onto her fourth car in as many years. Initially hesitant about learning to drive, with some encouragement from friends and family, she passed the theory and then the practical exam four summers ago.
Having a sensible head on young shoulders, she duly asked her father to purchase her first motor car, a ten year old Aygo. She would foot the insurance bill: having a black box fitted kept the yearly bill to a paltry £1500 per annum. She had taken to the queen’s highway for all of ten days however when she almost missed a lamppost on her way to work. Road conditions were straight and good; we believe the steering failed. The police calmed her down and took no further action. The lorry driver who had been following Sophie brought her to work, somewhat distraught.
Car No.2, a twelve year old Yaris. Her insurance did go up – by £8 (yes, really) but this car soon developed brake problems. Keen to avoid her crash route she took an even steeper road. On seeing this car I noticed the discs had scorch marks – her boyfriend had advised her to “knock it out of gear and fair stand on the brakes.” Very little of Sheffield is flat. She wondered why the dashboard light marked ABS remained lit. And why was there an odd, hot smell and suddenly the brakes were not there? With some stern words from DTW’s Safety Champion, she wisely changed her braking habits. With Yaris continuing to make odd noises, Sophie quickly decided to chop it in for a six year old Citroen C1.
Things were going well with Egg as she called the French car until six months into ownership when I found her at work in tears; something catastrophic had occurred in the engine bay, proving game over for the B-Zero. The local garage confirmed the breakdown chap’s initial reaction of knackered. Probable Cause of death: poor service history.
Sophie then took another Japanese plunge but this time turned attention to Nissan – the Body in White Micra. This K13 version at least looked tidy being only being eight years old when purchased. The engine bay looked clean, the brakes worked, the dashboard lights un-illuminated.
Released at the Geneva show in 2010, this model sold in over 160 countries. Known as the March in Japan, Sophie calls her Kay but perhaps wisely dropped the numerical reference. This car is fitted with the ubiquitous HR12DE engine, at 1198cc three pot and thrummy in exhaust note. Developing 80bhp and 81 Newton Metres, it will never set the pace at the traffic light Grand Prix but is more than capable of keeping up with traffic. However, Sheffield’s hills do sap that power rather quickly, enforcing some hastier than preferred gear changes, I’m told.
Honest John thought it a car aimed squarely at the female purchaser and hardly on the radar of the style conscious. They also found the drive rather uninspiring, the interior lacklustre (did we really expect anything else?) but fuel economy and town driving were plus points. Hardly exciting stuff but when you’re 21 and struggling; considering Sophie’s track record, this was a feeling of joy. A car that works, easy on the pocket and handles Macdonald’s Drive-Thru’s just as easily as the route to work or the shopping mall. She’s not a high mileage driver.
Let’s close in a little on Nissan’s World Car. Similar to the Corolla in global reach, where does the interest of such cars lie? They are everywhere and nowhere; probably on most streets yet as anonymous as they come.
Overall, the look is cute, cuddly, even? Nigel, the sharp suited, young finance under-manager may glance at Sophie more than once: not her car. For one who can’t draw, this is how my rendition might look. Almost rainbow shaped in its DLO, the Micra is as unfussy as it gets. There’s no pomp, no aggression, not much in the way of adornment either; that flourish at the doors bottom being the sole change in metal pressing.
Talking of pressing – Wheels: yes, four; all have seen the sharp side of a kerb. Can the design be anymore generic? The back lights are clear, clean; as curvaceous as a light cluster could be. The ribbed roof is not just a talking point (to someone) but also a strengthening aid. This featherweight bolide tips the scales at around one tonne.
Summing up, this horseless carriage is a plain Jane, a five door jelly mould that is perfectly acceptable for someone such as Sophie. Should young Nigel have bought this car for exactly the same reasons, no doubting he would receive as much stick as an SUV driver caught up in a vegan, world saving pedestrian rally.
Am I defending the Micra? Well, only insofar it will suit Sophie until she acquires that white Range Rover Sport she craves. Then I’ll inform her of all the upsides of driving a decent town car that the industry now seems to ignore along with vagaries of heaving trucks through drive-thru’s, which of course she will not listen to. Am I glad not to be twenty one, again…?