Fleet News

Nissan Micra C+C 1.6 Essenza

Nissan

Review

IMAGE counts for a lot for many employees when considering a car, and from the response I got driving the Nissan Micra C+C, it’s fair to say that it’s a less than manly wagon.

Its cutesy front-end styling, compact dimensions and folding metal hard-top all add up to make this car ‘one for the girls’, as several passers-by reminded me while I was driving through towns. And when it’s painted hot pink, as our test car was, it hammers home the point.

The Micra C+C is a happy-go-lucky cartoon of a car and Nissan admits its main target audience is women. Personally, I think it looks like someone trod on a frog, but my girlfriend informs me that it is, in fact, cute. And she should know.

The folding hard top will be a big lure – it takes about 20 seconds to raise or lower, using a button on the centre console and follows the lead taken by Peugeot with the 206 CC and latterly Vauxhall with the Tigra.

Despite the extra weight brought by the folding roof mechanism and the electric motors needed to operate it, the C+C is a fun car to drive.

With the same 108bhp engine as found in the sporty Micra 160 SR, it provides enough performance to match the fun image the car projects.

The 1.6-litre unit is responsive and high revving, with a wide torque band. We’re not talking serious performance here and the word ‘nippy’ is probably a fairer reflection of the Micra’s ability.

With the roof up, performance is fine, with 0-60mph coming up in 10 seconds. And so long as you don’t want to travel at high speeds, the cabin is a comfortable place to be when the roof is lowered.

Get much above 60mph and wind buffeting becomes a problem though.

And with the roof down you also get to experience the fruity engine note coming from the exhaust.

Around town the steering is light and direct, but does become rather heavy and vague once out on twisty backroads. Nevertheless, the car remains planted and balanced and soaks up potholes without grumbling.

The interior is well designed and feels solid. The seats are comfortable, if not particularly supportive, and the passenger seat lifts up to reveal a secret hidey-hole for handbags or a first-aid kit.

The glovebox is massive – I managed to fit a bottle of wine and a large chocolate bar in with plenty of space left.

Another clever feature is the keyless entry system, which is standard on the top-spec Essenza version tested. Just keep the key in your pocket and the doors unlock automatically, while the engine starts with a twist of a switch.

With the Micra C+C, Nissan has created two cars in one – cute convertible for posing and a nippy city coupe runabout.

Delivered price, standard car (P11D value): £14,832
CO2 emissions (g/km): 160
BIK % of P11D in 2006: 19%
Graduated VED rate: £125
Insurance group: 6
Combined mpg: 42.2
CAP Monitor residual value: £5,050/34%
Depreciation 16.30 pence per mile x 60,000: £9,780
Maintenance 2.25 pence per mile x 60,000: £1,350
Fuel 9.85 pence per mile x 60,000: £5,910
Wholelife cost 28.40 pence per mile x 60,000: £17,040
Typical contract hire rate: £320

  • All figures based on 3yrs/60,000 miles. Rental quote from HSBC Vehicle Finance

    At a glance

    We like:

  • Two cars in one
  • Nippy performance
  • Lowest running costs

    We don’t like it:

  • Vague steering
  • Girly image
  • Unsupportive seats

    Three rivals to consider

  • Ford StreetKa 1.6 Luxury
  • Peugeot 206 CC 1.6 Allure
  • Vauxhall Tigra 1.8 Sport

    P11D price

    THE Micra holds up well against its rivals. The Peugeot is negligibly cheaper, but its design is four years old. The Ford is more than £1,000 cheaper, but has only a soft-top roof against folding hard tops for the others. The Ford’s equipment list is also dwarfed by the others. Both the Micra and 206 offer around 110bhp, while the Tigra pushes 125bhp but costs more. The StreetKa has 95bhp, but weighs less.

    Ford £13,762
    Peugeot £14,807
    Nissan £14,832
    Vauxhall £15,507

    SMR costs

    THE Peugeot and Ford come out on top on paper over three years and 60,000 miles, with costs of servicing, maintenance and repair likely to be under £1,300. Bills for the StreetKa are likely to total £1,272, just less than the Peugeot at £1,296. The Nissan fares well at £1,350, while the Vauxhall costs considerably more to run at £1,572 over the same period. The higher running costs of the Vauxhall are a surprise and a break from the company’s norm.

    Ford 2.12ppm
    Peugeot 2.16ppm
    Nissan 2.25ppm
    Vauxhall 2.62ppm

    Fuel costs

    THE Nissan reigns supreme, with a likely petrol bill of £5,910 over three years and 60,000 miles. Nissan claims the Micra will return 42.2mpg on the combined cycle, and the estimates put the Micra’s costs almost £200 below the Peugeot at £6,096. The Vauxhall will drink more than £700 extra at £6,798 over the same period, while the Ford is the thirstiest model here, racking up a bill of £6,966. However, Fleet News always treats manufacturers’ claimed fuel economy figures with caution – and you should, too.

    Nissan 9.85ppm
    Peugeot 10.16ppm
    Vauxhall 11.33ppm
    Ford 11.61ppm

    Depreciation costs

    THE Micra and Tigra are both predicted to retain 34% of their cost new after three years/60,000 miles, according to figures from CAP, but the Vauxhall will cost more in real terms, losing a total of £10,206 over the period against the Nissan’s £9,780. The Ford loses the least in real terms (£9,312), but offers only a 32% RV. The Peugeot has an RV of 33%, losing £9,954. The Nissan is the strongest performing hard-top convertible, which is useful for all-round motoring.

    Ford 15.52ppm
    Nissan 16.30ppm
    Peugeot 16.59ppm
    Vauxhall 17.01ppm

    Wholelife costs

    THE Nissan completes victory in the running costs league table, costing less than 28.5 pence per mile to run over three years/60,000 miles. Just behind is the Peugeot, at a fraction below 29pppm, with the Ford in third. The Vauxhall is last on almost 31ppm. The Micra would cost a fleet a projected £17,040 over three years. The 206 would take £17,346, the StreetKa £17,550 and the Tigra £18,576.

    Nissan 28.40ppm
    Peugeot 28.91ppm
    Ford 29.25ppm
    Vauxhall 30.96ppm

    Emissions and BIK tax rates

    THE Micra extends its lead as the best company car option in this class. The lowest CO2 emissions mean the lowest company car tax rate of just £51 a month for a 22% taxpayer. The 206CC will set the same driver back £54, while the StreetKa is £9 more at £63. The Tigra is the most expensive at £68 a month. The Vauxhall and Peugeot will cost £150 a year in VED rates, while the Ford is the most expensive at £165. The Nissan is the cheapest at £125.

    Nissan 160g/km/19%
    Peugeot 166g/km/20%
    Vauxhall 185g/km/24%
    Ford 190g/km/25%

    Verdict

    WITH the lowest fuel costs and depreciation rates, and the lowest emissions and company car tax bills, Nissan’s Micra C+C is a clear winner. The StreetKa and 206CC costs less, but the Peugeot is ageing and is more expensive to run, while the Ford is only a soft-top. The Tigra is a good car, but cannot compete on price in this company.

  • WINNER: Nissan Micra C+C 1.6 Essenza
  • CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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