Home » I Drove Canada’s Cheapest Car Of 2015 And Trust Me: America Would Have Hated It

I Drove Canada’s Cheapest Car Of 2015 And Trust Me: America Would Have Hated It

Nissan Micra Topshot
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Remember the Canadian-market Nissan Micra? Not the one from the ’80s, but the one from the past few years, sold for dirt-cheap and offered as a race car. To outsiders, it seemed like the Dacia Sandero of the North, a cheap and cheerful exercise in minimum viable car, and as a Canadian, I got the privilege to drive the Micra and its competitors while they were all still new, plastics off-gassing and owner’s manuals still wrapped. While it’s easy to find people on the internet fawning for this cheap Nissan, I don’t think America would like the Micra all that much.

There’s a big difference between an inexpensive car and a cost-cut car. The Mitsubishi Mirage was originally meant for developing markets, meaning that everything was designed to be cheap from the start. The Micra is a decontented continuation of a car sold in Europe, Japan, and other locales used to all the modern decadence that U.S.-market cars provide. First, a disclaimer: All the Micra interior pics you see here, save for the one of the cargo area, are of a 2015 base-model car with just 108,000 kilometers, or around 67,000 miles, on the clock. This was the cheapest car in Canada at the time, with Nissan writing in a press release in 2015:

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

The Nissan Micra made history last year as a new vehicle with the lowest starting MSRP in Canada, and also offering the lowest cost-of-entry for an abundance of must-have features including: Bluetooth, Rear View Monitor, cruise control, manual air conditioning and automatic transmission.

Micra Interior 2

There’s a lot of missing equipment on the base model that I don’t have a problem with. Power door locks, power windows, and power mirrors are all unnecessary in a cheap small car. With a vehicle width of just 65.6 inches, it’s not hard for an able-bodied person to reach over and roll down the passenger window, or lock the passenger door. I don’t think a car this cheap needs cruise control either, nor do I reckon that body-colored door handles or mirrors are needed. After all, plastic doesn’t rust.

Nissan Micra Interior 2

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However, the Micra cut a few corners that simply feel spiteful. Wind-down windows are all well and good, but the winders themselves don’t feel particularly sturdy on the Micra. The pieces on the last one I drove had some play, which is a problem because that was a new press car. While I appreciate the bright interior door handles, there’s a spot on each interior door lock switch for a tiny orange decal, the sort that raises attention that a door is unlocked. In the last Micra S I drove, it wasn’t there. Speaking of things missing in the cabin, the passenger didn’t get an “oh dear god” handle unless you stepped up to the mid-range SV trim. A mild annoyance, sure, but also a reminder of cheapness.

Nissan Micra Original Day 1 008 Source

Pop the hatch and you’ll notice that the trunk carpet feels impossibly thin, and the metal lip along the bottom of the hatch opening features wide swathes of exposed paintwork, waiting to get marked up while loading and unloading. Add in a considerable load lip and a sizable mismatch between cargo floor and the height of the folded seats, and the cargo bay just doesn’t feel as useful or as well-protected as it should be. Open up the fuel door, and a wandering hand will painfully learn that the edges of the fuel door are sharp, almost like they weren’t de-burred properly. A minor detail, but a rather unfortunate one.

Micra Interior 1

More than the small reminders of cheapness, the interior just doesn’t seem joyfully-styled. Sure, the three-knob climate controls are nice, but everything’s a mash of weird angles and wide panel gaps. Canadian-market cars got a different (read: cheaper) dashboard than European cars, and it really does feel it. Everything’s quick to scratch, which means that after 65,000 city miles or so, the cabin feels a bit worn-out.

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The Micra put its best foot forward out on the road, riding well thanks to relatively large for the segment 185/60R15 tires. Steering feel is decent and body roll is well-controlled for the segment, but you quickly get the impression the car’s more about transportation than joy. The 17:1 steering ratio feels a touch slow by modern standards, and while the brakes are fine, their stopping power and pedal feel isn’t anything to write home about. Thank goodness a five-speed manual is standard because the optional four-speed automatic’s wide ratios really highlight why CVTs have proliferated the budget car segment. That being said, the manual gearbox’s shifter isn’t brilliant, with a vague, rubbery feel, even by the segment’s standards.

Nissan Micra Original Day 1 004 Source

Discounting the cabin, it’s a perfectly fine way of getting around, provided you’re alright with one thing: The Micra feels a touch sluggish around town, largely thanks to lazy drive-by-wire tuning. You’d expect an inexpensive, lightweight hatchback with a 106-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine to be reasonably zippy in low-speed environments, but this thing doesn’t have the throttle urgency you’d expect. Sure, the cup cars look like a riot, but the roadgoing Canadian Micra was no more of an enthusiast’s car than most of its competitors. It also had the same major servicing concern as its big brother, the Versa Note — the spark plugs were buried under the intake manifold, making their eventual replacement expensive.

Chevrolet Spark Ls 1

While the Micra is a fine way of getting around, the corners cut to achieve that $9,998 Canadian MSRP excluding destination are rather obvious. Granted, this wouldn’t have been a problem if the Micra was the only car with a four-figure price tag, but it wasn’t. In response to the Micra’s incredibly low price tag, Chevrolet dropped the MSRP of a base second-generation Spark in Canada to below $10,000. Sure, it was physically smaller than a Micra and was only a four-seater, but the Spark was a much better car.

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Spark Ls Interior 1

For a start, there’s the interior. While the Micra’s cabin is a place of cut corners and cheap plastics, the Spark is full of interesting lines and textures. From the V-shaped upper dashboard to the chrome-trimmed knobs and air vents, the Spark’s cabin feels a whole lot more expensive than the Micra’s despite a similar starting price.

[Editor’s Note: This car reminds me a lot of the cheapest car in the U.S. in 2009, the Nissan Versa

I told Thomas this, and he replied with: “My neighbour had a Versa of that vintage! It was a much nicer car than the Micra. Better plastics, better upholstery, nicer dashboard layout, tighter fit and finish.” That is alarming. -DT]

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Then there’s the standard kit. While it’s easy to bang on about simplicity in an era of screens, the standard infotainment system in the Spark is a welcome addition in today’s phone-mirroring GPS app age. Automatic headlights are an unexpected nicety, as is a reversing camera and a driver’s armrest. The Spark just coddles its occupants better than the Micra, offering genuine convenience touches at a very low price.

Chevrolet Spark Engine

Sure, the Spark is down on power compared to the Micra, but 98 horsepower isn’t far off from 106, and the Spark delivered those ponies in a more pleasing way. While the 1.6-liter engine in the Micra will dutifully let you rev it out, the 1.4-liter engine in the Spark eggs you on with an eager little growl before having to swap cogs through ever so slightly more defined gates. The Spark’s brake pedal feels confident, and its clutch is a breeze to modulate. All the inputs you’d make are slightly better than on a Micra, all for the same price.

The Canadian-market Nissan Micra is a great example of how just because you can’t have something doesn’t mean you necessarily should want it. While it’s perfectly adequate transportation, it lacks the economy of the Mitsubishi Mirage and the polish of the Chevrolet Spark, two solid cars that Americans could actually buy. As time goes on, it also seems like the Mitsubishi and the Chevrolet are both better at warding off corrosion, although it’s also possible that their owners just care more. While the Micra was certainly an important car in Canadian automotive history, I’d advise against putting your money on the line for one unless it’s either a cup car or a really cheap example.

(Photo credits: Nissan, Chevrolet, AutoTrader sellers)

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Keri Smith
Keri Smith
11 months ago

The Mexican-made March is a bit better version of this. You can see it at this site:
https://www.carscoops.com/2021/02/old-nissan-march-refuses-to-die-gets-facelifted-in-mexico/.

They are perfectly fine run-about cars, I own two as part of a small auto-rental business in the Caribbean. I like them because they fit 5 people, larger drivers have no problem getting in and out, and they are capable (if not astonishingly fast) on steep hills and sharp corners. We have tiny narrow roads here, so a tiny car is great for timid tourist drivers. If I fold the rear seats down I can fit a 27-inch wheel mountain bike in the back. I got ours for $16,000 each – they’ll probably pay for themselves in 2 years. They have A/C, electric windows, and infotainment (hard connection only). I do wish they had backup cameras, though.

And there are many 10 year-old-plus Marches still tooling around here. The climate is harsh, everything rusts, but they persist in running. Perfectly reasonable cars for most folks.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
11 months ago

“The Spark was a much better car”

I’m sure that no one has ever said these words in this order before you.

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
11 months ago

A friend of mine who lives way out of town bought two of these – one for each of his kids. He had to wait a long time for a manual model because Nissan expected everyone to upgrade to the automatic (for a couple of thousand more). He wanted his kids to learn stick, so he he insisted that they order him manual models. Then the dealer came back and said that there were no manuals available. He threatened to sue them for false advertising, since they had been advertising $9,995 cars and all they had were $12k cars. They magically found two white $9,995 specials and his kids still drive them when they visit home.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Canoehead

If I’d have been in the market for a new car back in 2015, something like this would have been at the top of my list. The closest US equivalent was a stripper Nissan Versa, but it was significantly more expensive.

Though what I REALLY want is the sports car/2-door coupe equivalent to this cheap beater with a smallblock V8, mid-engine rear-drive layout, and no unnecessary frills. Make it a performance car that cuts corners regarding cost on everything it can, without compromising its mission as a performance car.

I despise modern bloated “sports cars” because they are loaded with unnecessary features to deliberately add cost, weigh two-tons, and are designed moreso for looks than function(I’m after as low drag as possible for a given bare minimum necessary amount of downforce). I want something cheap, efficient, robust, low-maintenance, agile, AND powerful. Everything ends up compromised in the name of profit maximization and tradition, and it’s garbage. The Miata is about the best we get in the present day, and it’s a far cry from what is actually possible. I’m looking for a Miata that is mid-engined, weighs a few hundred pounds less, has about 1/2 the overall drag, and is similar or less in cost. And we’ll never see such a thing because it will cannibalize the sales of more expensive vehicles, but fuck shareholders.

Last edited 11 months ago by Toecutter
Edward
Edward
11 months ago

This is useful and interesting, thanks!

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

I don’t get comparisons here. If you are buying a brand new sub $10,000 car you should expect to have to do without a few or any luxuries. It should run, start, stop, be reliable, and last the warranty. If it does these things FINE you got yourself a fine car. It doesn’t accelerate like my Dodge Demon Hemi that cost $80,000+, of course not. It has some wind noise and manual crank windows? Of course it does. Much like shitbox comparisons should be at equivalent price tiers. Say a 30 year old Bentley, Rolls Royce, or any used car you picked up for $10k.

Millermatic
Millermatic
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

At worst, the writing was a bit less elegantly than usual. The point, I think, is entirely valid. Inexpensive doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) mean “cheap.”

The article reminded me of a “movement” of sorts in housing called “the not so big house” that gained some popularity 20-30 years ago. The premise was simple: You _could_ have your large McMansion with its brick front and vinyl sides with no windows and it’s cookie-cutter layout devoid of thought and its emphasis on size over… everything. Or you could get something smaller that was thoughtfully designed to support the way you actually lived. And with details that were nicer to see and touch.

I’d prefer (and have) a smaller, nicer house for the same price as a larger new house built in a development where all the streets are named after trees (that were all clear-cut to simplify construction). And I’ll take a Spark.

Last edited 11 months ago by Millermatic
LarsVargas
LarsVargas
11 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I live in a “not so big house” that’s perfect for my wife and me. 1,705 s.f. 3 bedrooms (2 of which are home offices) and 2 bathrooms. Very well built and everything is upgraded and of a very high finish. It’s not a palace, but it’s perfect for our needs and a little luxurious where we want it to be

And we’re the same with cars, nothing too big or even ostentatious. Decent, fun cars to get us around that suit our needs perfectly fine without spending more then we want. And in this scenario the Spark wins for us as well.

Barry Allen
Barry Allen
11 months ago

So it’s drab and cheap feeling and driving it makes you feel sad… It’s any Nissan made since 2010 except the GT-R
(No, I didn’t miss the Z, I hear mostly mediocre things)

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago

The abrupt transition into the bit about the Spark is a non sequitur–did a paragraph get dropped by accident?

Dávid Tóth
Dávid Tóth
11 months ago

Uhh, I hate the intake plenum on these engines… You have to remove it to gain access to nearly anything

Pat Douglas Barron
Pat Douglas Barron
11 months ago

My 1996 Opel Corsa is a POS compared to this so-called rubbish Micra. I too used to criticize cheap cars like you do – ’til I had to walk home from work one cold, rainy evening. A second-class ride is WAY better than a first-class walk, my friend…

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
11 months ago

There are cheap cars and there are cars that feel cheap. I can’t speak to the Micra but the Versas of the 2005 or so era just felt cheap and not good value for the money. With my crappy 1994 Altima on the ownership side and less than happy experiences with Nissans as rentals in general it’s no wonder I have an issue with Nissan.

EmotionalSupportBMW
EmotionalSupportBMW
11 months ago

My dude, you’re coming out hard against the Quebec Standard issue Battle Tank. You’re right. Do you really want come out publicly with this opinion? Enough Degens from the Up Country to fill one half of the Bell Centre are in route right now. You’ll have unintelligible chants outside for weeks. They’ll ban you from Molson and all real Canadian maple syrup. You’ll have to drive to Vermont and/or Maine for the sweet nectar fix! You could go to New Hampshire, no one should subject themselves to New Hampshire though!

Bruno Hache
Bruno Hache
11 months ago

These were fun in the Micra Cup. Cup cars were well tuned!

Pappa P
Pappa P
11 months ago
Reply to  Bruno Hache

They were actually mostly stock with a few bolt ons. It wouldn’t cost much to build a street replica

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
11 months ago

Adjusting for both inflation and currency conversion, I believe $9,998 CAD in 2015 works out to $9,100 US today, if this exact car were available here new at that price right now, I’d buy two of them, don’t care about the nitpicky details.

Although, actually, the MSRP would be too low (by about $16,000) to qualify for my employer’s mileage reimbursement policy, so maybe just buy one of them.

Dan Pritts
Dan Pritts
11 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Yeah, ten grand Canadian for an actual functioning new car? I had no idea such a thing existed.

Anoos
Anoos
11 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

I didn’t realize there were companies that tied mileage reimbursement to vehicle MSRP.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
11 months ago
Reply to  Anoos

It’s not too bad, just has to cost at least $25,000 (which is hard not to do these days), and also can’t be more than 4 years old or have less than 4 passenger doors (unless a pickup truck)

Millermatic
Millermatic
11 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

WTF? My employer reimburses all miles I drive if they are required for work (not including -getting- to work from home). Meeting at a job site? Mileage no matter what I drive. It sounds like your employer is screwing the people who could benefit the most.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
11 months ago
Reply to  Millermatic

I had that deal when I first started, just got paid IRS rare every month based on a log I submitted, since my 7 year old Camaro didn’t qualify for their normal program (GPS mileage tracking and direct deposit), my boss originally told me the other plan was optional at the time I was hired, but after being with the company for several months, I learned it wasn’t actually optional and was really pressured to buy a new car that complied. I was the only salaried person in the entire company they were cutting a physical check to every month and it was attracting too much attention at corporate

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

No just get the dealer to sell you one at the needed price and get one free.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

My question is this.

How much would America hate this car if it came with a V6 from a Z car and had all of its mechanicals beefed up to handle it, with a 6-speed manual, converted to rear-wheel-drive, but still cheaped out on everything else as it does, and cost say, $25,000? We’re talking a basic, cheap, efficient, reliable penalty box built to reliably handle lots of power, and out-perform cars that cost 3x as much. I think people would be lining up for that.

Now do an EV version of the same concept for $5-10k less cost, aimed at 200 miles range with a small battery via lots of streamlining and the ability to accelerate like a Hellcat by using power dense batteries and upgrading the drive system. Think people would ignore that?

A cost cutting car that forces the buyer to sacrifice should give them something in return for that sacrifice. None of these cars do that because the manufacturers don’t want cheap cars to sell, because they cannibalize the sale of more expensive and higher margin products. The industry is building what it wants the consumers to buy and manipulating consumer demand to its ends, rather than letting people decide for themselves.

Eventually, it’s going to blow up in their faces. People can only keep juggling debt around for so long.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Where would the V6 go though?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

In the middle of course, like the Clio V6 Renault Sport.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago

It was implied that the front of the car would be reworked to accommodate this. Of course, you could retain FWD if you transverse-mount the engine… but what’s the fun in that?

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

“Eventually, it’s going to blow up in their faces. People can only keep juggling debt around for so long.”

You say that as the bookend of a loooong line of people saying that for as far back as I can remember, yet here we are another day older and deeper in debt.

Toecutter
Toecutter
11 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

It comes down to mathematics. Infinite growth on a planet of finite resources is not possible. The current paradigm is exponential growth, paid for from the future by endless money printed up as debt. Has the can been kicked down the road for decades? Sure. But this can’t continue forever. We got a taste of it in 2008, but the market was bailed out at taxpayer expense and the suffering of real people was papered over by statistical manipulation via changes in methodology. Eventually the limits will be reached and the issue won’t be able to be papered over anymore. The statistics will likely say how great things are while masses of people suffer and know they are being lied to. Then what?

Modern automotive design is extremely inconsiderate of resource use and consumption. While it has improved from 50 years ago in many ways, planned obsolescence is still alive and well and the products are priced in a market that relies on constant money printing and debt in the pursuit of conspicuous consumption. The vehicle designs are built under the assumption that the resources that compose them and which fuel them are going to remain infinitely available. But they won’t. Modern vehicles are built to be eventual landfill fodder. This applies to electric vehicles every bit as much as gasoline ones, because the batteries are difficult to recycle and expensive/complicated to produce.

We need a new paradigm. Vehicles designed to be inexpensive, last a human lifetime, are as recyclable as possible, low mass, aerodynamically efficient, and inexpensive to operate. The good news is that these traits could lend themselves well to enthusiast and performance vehicles that are leaps and bounds ahead of anything we have today. Regarding “practical” Karen-mobiles designed to flash around pretend wealth(debt) as an ostentatious display of conspicuous consumption, not so much…

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

They already built a vehicle like you describe – the Reliant Rialto, rustproof/dentproof fiberglass body, rustproof galvanized steel chassis, aluminum engine, and 60mpg, with room for 4+luggage, the company advertised them as having an expected 30 year useful service life in the 1980s, with proper maintenance. But, Reliant stumbled along half dead for 20 years, then finally died.

Chronometric
Chronometric
11 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

The Rialto had a service life up to the first hard turn. It was a horrifically flawed design and it is amazing they lasted as long as they did.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Toecutter

And make it fly and go underwater

changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
11 months ago

I rented and later bought a 2013 Nissan Micra (the pre-facelift of this car) both manual, 1.2l 3cyl here in Australia. I am on the hefty side at around 240lbs and 6ft yet can sit comfortably behind my own driving position. These cars aren’t exactly fun to drive but they are easy to drive, only had 1 problem – needed a new starter motor just out of warranty which the nissan dealer paid half of the cost of without my even asking – and was just good solid motoring including a bunch of big road trips. Any Aus readers I cannot recommend enough. I only sold it as I got FOMO on cheap early noughties 3 series and C classes which I wanted to try before they got too sheddy but I shouldn’t have sold it. Also, I had a Dacia Sandero in Ireland last year though my wannabe inner James May hates me to say it, the Micra is just way more polished. Sandero drove like my old 2002 Mazda 323 just a bit floatier

Last edited 11 months ago by changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

People here forget most drivers just want a stove that gets you from a to b.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
11 months ago

The more I read about this car, the more it reminded me of my old ’88 Yugo GVL, and after consulting an inflation calculator, it appears as though they cost about the same. While the Yugo wasn’t as bad as you think (GVL = 5 speed and cloth upholstery), the Micra sounds better in every way.

Motorhead Mike
Motorhead Mike
11 months ago
Reply to  Motorhead Mike

Wait a minute… I forgot we were talking about CAD, it’s actually (inflation adjusted) cheaper than a Yugo was in 1988.

Maymar
Maymar
11 months ago

The Micra had just come out when I was in the market – it was perfectly adequate, but nothing special. The biggest thing that stopped me from buying was that if you wanted both A/C and a stick, you had to step up to the SV (A/C could only be had on the base S with the automatic). At $15k with no rebates or financing deals, it ended up being effectively priced against nicer stuff. I went with a Mazda2 (also considered a 2.Slow Jetta, although the Mazda worked better with fitting a motorcycle in my condo parking spot) as it was only a few bucks a month more.

I kind of get the sense that it really is our Dacia Sandero, but I appreciate they at least offered it.

Citrus
Citrus
11 months ago

The annoying thing about the Micra and cheap cars like it is that it was available in really nice colors and had some really fun exterior packages. Why is this annoying? Because once you start to ascend in size and price the fun slowly starts to disappear. It had a really neat dark teal! It had a white and red package that I thought was fun!

The Rogue? Two colors. And the big special edition is just all black.

Every manufacturer does this!

The Chevy Spark is available in SIX ACTUAL COLORS! Move up to the Trax and you have four, plus a sort of green grey that could be argued as a color if you wanted. Equinox? A red AND a blue! Wow!

Would offering these fun colors make a mid size CUV less inherently depressing? Probably! Say what you will about the Micra, if I had one with the white and red exterior packages I might still smile like I do when I see it in the wild. If I had a dismal grey Rogue I’d probably have to check into an institution to treat severe depression.

Why can’t we have mainstream, normal cars that have even a little fun as an option?

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Or dumping a hero color after the first year or so, like the Energy Green on the last Civic coupe. Nissan’s also a good example of doing this, a woman I worked with years ago bought a previous-gen Rogue, and would have bought it in orange but it had been discontinued already (she settled for the stone blue color).

Chevy kinda keeps good colors in rotation a bit longer at least, they had an orange Equinox for a couple years and I’ve seen Trailblazers around in neon blue type colors, plus they still offer yellow on it. Actually, I saw 2 of the new Trax yesterday and was pleasantly surprised one of them was Nitro yellow.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago

I think the problem is dealers go boring and buyers settle for the discounted lot model.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

This is certainly part of it, if maybe a bit more on the manufacturers to offer the colors in the first place. Not even about discounts, customers and dealers alike both want the sale done the same day if they can, so inoffensive shades of grey have less resistance.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Man I was with you right up until white/red exterior. Blue green red yellow teal purple violet that is color.

Citrus
Citrus
11 months ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

It’s actually a REALLY well done appearance package, shockingly. Like you could get some great teals and stuff on the Micra too.

CSRoad
CSRoad
11 months ago

A few years ago while searching for cheap back up transportation I test drove one of these and the Mirage, they didn’t make me smile, so I bought a used Fiesta instead, it made me pleased to drive it, it’s no ball of fire, but it is much better. Not an automatic of course.

Flatisflat
Flatisflat
11 months ago

While it’s easy to bang on about simplicity in an era of screens, the standard infotainment system in the Spark is a welcome addition.

don’t want it.Automatic headlights are an unexpected nicety

no thank you, I know how and when to use a headlight switch.As is a reversing camera and a driver’s armrest

don’t want the former; don’t use the latter.I’ll take the Micra.

Last edited 11 months ago by Flatisflat
Citrus
Citrus
11 months ago
Reply to  Flatisflat

Does anyone ACTUALLY want to do the hair shirt thing? I mean, my car is relatively basic, it needs a key to start of all things, but I feel like my life is dramatically improved by the heated steering wheel. I wouldn’t ever buy a car with crank windows or manual locks again. I don’t see why anyone would turn down automatic headlights if they had the option. Air conditioning is goddamn essential.

I once had a bare bones ’84 Civic, I miss it dearly and tell myself that if I had the option I’d buy another and use it as a daily driver. And then I realize that while my modern car is less of a pure mechanical object it DOES make my life better, and I’d probably drive that if I had access to both.

Jack Trade
Jack Trade
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I think the big offset that a barebones car has to have to tip the desirability balance is durability. You know you don’t have all the niceties but you forgive it when you know she’ll always get you where you need to go with a minimum of fuss/upkeep.

But Nissans don’t seem to have that right now.

Anoos
Anoos
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Cheaper cars seem to rust faster. In road salt areas, that can undermine the car’s reliability when the exhaust needs replacement at 30k miles and the exhaust hangers are rotted away by the next time you need to do the job.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
11 months ago
Reply to  Anoos

I thought stainless steel exhaust systems had trickled all the way down to the bottom of manufacturers lineups years ago, no?

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Jack Trade

Yes it isnt cheap transport if expensive to keep running.

changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
changedmynameasIworkinadealershipandsomeofourbrandsarentgreat
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

I think if you have 2 well placed cupholders and aircon its fine. I have an auto 2021 Kia Picanto with all the modern tech stuff as well as a 2003 VW Polo manual. I swap them every couple of weeks. Polo has flimsy pop out of dash cupholder and some really shallow ones way back between the front seats but aside from not being able to stream podcasts from my phone thats the only negative compared to the KIA. Both have elec windows too but other cheap noughties manuals I’ve had had windy ones and manual mirrors and they were fine you get used to them

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
11 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

Sir i salute you and support your right to be wrong.

GreatFallsGreen
GreatFallsGreen
11 months ago

Depending the trim of Thomas’ neighbor’s 1st-gen Versa, it very well may have been nicer still than the Micra. Nissan had actively cheapened the Versa to get it to the cheapest-new-car status, a couple years after initial launch, whereas other Versas still had larger wheels and more power.

They brought the Micra out in a time when Nissan had already cheapened the 2nd-gen Versa compared to the first, and the Canadian Micra seems to have had some cost squeezed out of it in the same way. It looks like it shares the Versa’s dashboard, which was a little different from the dash in other markets – much like the Versa Note here had the cheaper dashboard of the sedan and not the nicer dash of the Note sold in other markets.

I know the Micra stood in for the Versa sedan in Canada, but I also find it interesting that it was either cheaper or easier or both to do the Micra as the entry-level car than just doing a cheaper Versa Note.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
11 months ago

There is a big cultural context to consider here. You will probably rarely see one of these outside of Quebec and when you do, it will likely have Quebec plates. The person driving it will most likely be wearing clothes worth at least 2X the value of the car. They have no problem tossing the keys to one of these things to the valet at a nice restaurant.

Contrast that to American (and other parts of Canada) values: People wearing sweatpants and ball caps to formal events but showing up in $75K plus trucks.

It’s just different. If I’m in a nice restaurant, I’d rather sit across the table from a Quebecois than a slob any day, no matter what they got there in.

James Mitchell
James Mitchell
11 months ago

Does this mean I can import the Spark? Because I would 100% be down to buy an aging dirt cheap Canadian Spark

EXL500
EXL500
11 months ago
Reply to  James Mitchell

It was sold here in the USA and likely still on some lots. Did I misunderstand your post?

Usernametaken
Usernametaken
11 months ago

The fact that Napa Auto has a a fleet of these that are still getting ragged on every day as parts delivery cars should tell you something about where they gave even the flimsiest of shits when it came to build quality.

For what you paid, it was A Car. It worked, mostly, I knew a guy who jockeyed one, he was a car guy on a shoestring budget, and it reliability got him around. His also held up pretty well, due to him actually trying

Gary Lynch
Gary Lynch
11 months ago

Young ‘uns nowadays don’t have the foggiest idea what cheap really is. Compared to say the original base model Pinto, Dodge Dart, AMC Gremlin, the Micra is posh.

Interesting that the Great White North gets these cost cutters. I recall the everywhere Hyundai Pony of the 90’s. Pretty much was an instant rust bucket.

Last edited 11 months ago by Gary Lynch
Andy Individual
Andy Individual
11 months ago
Reply to  Gary Lynch

Yeah, I’m old enough to remember pushing many of my cars uphill both ways in the snow. The Micra is a pretty good step up. Although ‘Manual’ Air Conditioning? WTF? I never had to live with that ‘manual’ shit! I guess Bluetooth, Rear View Monitor and cruise control might make up for it.

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
11 months ago

I’m old enough to instantly think of my air-cooled VWs when I read ‘Manual Air Conditioning’. I still miss the triangular vent windows.

Hold on: I just remembered the cooler full of ice, computer fan, and dryer vent flexi-hose we rigged up for a friend (and mostly her dog) to drive some 14 hours down to help her parents after Katrina-does that qualify as ‘manual’?

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