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Discovering New York City With the 2017 Nissan Micra

A city and a car that both surprise Automotive columnist: , Updated:

Nissan Canada had this cool idea to invite a bunch of auto journalists to test drive the 2017 Nissan Micra in the streets of New York. As it turned out, crisscrossing the biggest city in North America behind the wheel of one of the smallest cars available in the land was quite the experience—and I say this despite all the congestion, less than enviable road quality, aggressive taxi drivers, and reckless Bixi users.

Guided by Marie-Joelle Parent, author of 300 raisons d’aimer New York (300 reasons to love New York), we took a memorable road trip through Manhattan.

From LaGuardia to Times Square
Our first contact with the Nissan Micra in New York took place in the parking lot of LaGuardia Airport and led us to Times Square through a mix of boulevards and streets, not to mention the Queensboro Bridge.

The little Micra greeted us with its friendly face and squat silhouette. The roofline is particularly tall, resulting in more headroom inside. The trunk may be tight, but the cabin accommodates four adults fairly easily, and the dashboard up front is nicely laid out. Sure, there’s nothing to write your mother about, but everything is functional.

At just $9,988, the Micra is the least expensive car in Canada and a tremendous offering from Nissan Canada since the sub-compact segment is mostly dictated by price. It often serves as a first car for young buyers or a second car for the family. Hyundai and Chevrolet went the same path with the Accent and Spark, respectively. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find more refined and modern alternatives like the Ford Fiesta, the new Kia Rio or even the next-generation Micra (already launched in Europe, but at a higher price).

When will we see the latter in Canada? Nissan’s marketing folks made it clear: For now, the current generation will remain in the lineup due to its exceptional value, good reliability, and superb robustness. 

On the boulevards around New York, the Micra delivered decent performance and seemingly had no problems keeping pace with other vehicles, whether we drove the 5-speed manual version or the one with a 4-speed autobox. Noise levels were adequate, just like the car’s road manners. The 109-horsepower 1.6L mill, for its part, ensured good fuel economy.

Once we attacked the streets of the Big Apple, the Nissan Micra proved agile and zippy thanks to a good amount of low-end torque, making it easy to navigate through traffic. Parking maneuvers were a real breeze, too.

Dumbo (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) to Wall Street via Central Park
Our second day with the 2017 Nissan Micra in New York felt a little less stressful since we were more familiar with the car and its safe, solid ways. Of course, dealing with all the taxi cabs and delivery trucks was far from relaxing. Fortunately, a detour through Central Park and quiet West Village eased our nerves. We also stopped by Wall Street for a quick lunch at the food trucks.

Here’s the Micra in front of 75.5 Bedford Street, the narrowest house in all of Manhattan, formerly owned by actor Cary Grant and now valued at $3.25 million USD.
Here’s the Micra in front of 75.5 Bedford Street, the narrowest house in all of Manhattan, formerly owned by actor Cary Grant and now valued at $3.25 million USD.
Photo: Nissan

Seven hours behind the wheel of the rudimentary Micra didn’t prove to be too miserable. On the contrary, the seats were fairly comfortable and provided a good driving position, visibility was excellent, and the nicely calibrated suspension fared well on boulevards and even slow streets filled with manhole covers and more. The body didn’t make too much noise, so the cabin remained relatively quiet.

Micra continues to be relevant
While the current Nissan Micra is getting a bit long in the tooth, it turned out to be a good candidate for this type of adventure—at least as far as small cars are concerned. And the price is still impossible to beat. 

I tip my hat to Nissan and the Micra, which managed to shine during our tour of New York City. This place is so amazing with countless surprises and sights to discover. If you ever go there, I strongly recommend the aforementioned book by Marie-Joelle Parent.

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