Life is complicated. And I’m not just talking bills, careers, staying fit, finding love, being a decent human being… I’m talking life as a whole. While it seems companies and products are put in place to make our lives “easier” they’ve instead added levels of complication we’re all having to get used to on a daily basis.

For example, ever tried to adjust the temperature and fan speed in a new Dodge vehicle? Good luck finding a knob to turn or a dial to adjust. Instead you’re forced to navigate a colourful touchscreen that’s very pretty to look at and uber futuristic, but really is it necessary? Oh, and adjusting the volume on the radio in your new Honda Accord? Turn a knob? No, sir, you need to slide your finger oh-so gingerly down a touchscreen for that.

What happened to the good old days of turning around when you backed up and actually using your eyes to navigate? Now, a camera shows you what’s immediately behind you and a series of angry beeps and boops warn you of curbs, oncoming cars, small children, and scattered objects in the vicinity. It’s all a bit overwhelming. And don’t even get me started on autonomous driving…

So, when I was handed the keys to a bare-bones 2016 Nissan Micra S I took a very, very deep cleansing breath and prepared myself for a week of uncomplicated bliss behind the wheel.

From the moment I drove my first Micra a few years ago, I fell pretty hard for the cute little hatchback. There’s something endearing about its personality-filled mug, and it’s rounded little behind. Maybe I relate to its squat, small stature and so feel a sort of kinship with it, I’m not sure. Whatever the case may be, this is a well-designed little vehicle that appeals to both young and old; Nissan’s designers were smart about this one.

Don’t be fooled by the small space it occupies either, inside the Micra offers a ton of interior space both up front and on the rear bench. Headroom is aplenty and the trunk offers up a sizable 407.8 litres. Which means the 2016 Nissan Micra is actually a viable family car, and I can attest to that fact. My son went from a very large convertible front-facing baby seat to a booster-style seat in the Micra and both fit beautifully, with room left over in the back for at least one adult to sit beside him comfortably.

Then there’s also the fact that you can dress up your Micra to suit your equally unique personality with the Micra Colour Studio, and these itty bitty cars really can take on a character all their own – and I adore that. So much to love in such a wee package. Brilliant.

Now, about this lack of complication: The 2016 Nissan Micra S is the bare, less-than-$10k version. And it’s perfection. From its crank windows to its lack of A/C and 5-speed manual transmission, everything about this model screams YES to me.

Granted, getting used to locking and unlocking the doors with a key – yes an actual key you have to insert and turn each time! – takes a little getting used to, it’s actually kind of fun to have to think for yourself and remember to lock and unlock doors yourself!

And those crank windows, what a wonderful way to get a bit of a workout on every drive. My 4-year-old son was quite amazed at his ability to roll down his own window and found it to be the coolest feature on the whole car. I’ll admit to being a little miffed that the week I had the Micra S temperatures hovered in the 30+C range and I had a 1,000km road trip to take with the wee little hatch, but once all windows were cranked down and we were moving at a good clip on the highway, all negative thoughts just seemed to disappear.

And that’s another thing; this little thing can boogie. While it might only have a 1.6L 4-cylinder that pushes out 109 horsepower and 107 lb-ft of torque, its small stature means that’s more than enough to get you going when you need and want. Coupled with the 5-speed manual (there is of course a 4-speed automatic available but why on earth would you choose that one?!), the Micra S is so much fun to drive. Truly.

Fuel economy is mint in the 2016 Nissan Micra S and after said 1,000km+ trip I only put approximately $50 worth of gas in the tank – for the entire trip. I’d say that’s pretty decent. Nissan claims you can hit as low as 6.6L/100km on the highway, and I’d agree with their assessment.

You’re probably wondering if it “feels” like a car that costs less than $10k. I’m here to tell you it most definitely does not. Build quality is awesome, and the interior is comfortable with great seats and soft surfaces. Also, I love the fact that because this is a Canada-specific car (yay us!) Nissan engineers made sure the Micra’s suspension was calibrated specifically to handle our not-always-perfect roads, and in both the summer and winter.

Really, for what it is, this is an exceptional car – and don’t giggle at the adjective as I know you are. I’m being dead serious.

I’d recommend the Nissan Micra (and in fact have many times) to anyone in the market for a first car for their teen, a second family run-about or even a primary car for urban dwellers. It’s a great little ride chalk full of personality and quirkiness, and the bare-bones S model is by far the very best. There isn’t even a USB port (I had to pony up for a lighter-plug adapter thingy to charge while on my long road trip) or Bluetooth or satellite radio, so you drive blissfully complication-free while behind the wheel.

Just crank those windows down, turn up the FM, shift it into gear, and hit the open road.

Freedom.

2016 Nissan Micra
Trim level: S Price as tested (before taxes): $9,998
Freight: $1,600
Configuration: Front-engine, front-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 1.6L 4-cyl/5-speed manual
Power/torque: 109 hp/ 107 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 8.6L/100km, hwy: 6.6L/100km
Observed fuel economy L/100 km:  7.0L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/60,000km (basic) Competitors: Hyundai Accent, Mitsubishi Mirage, Kia Rio, Ford Fiesta

Related links:
Nissan Canada
CTV News

 

Test Drive: 2016 Nissan Micra S
Equipment60%
Styling85%
Comfort79%
Handling80%
Performance 70%
Storage75%
Pros
  • Simple, fun to drive
  • Affordable, easy to live with
Cons
  • Need to grow long arms to lock/unlock rear doors
  • Remember to lock all doors (and trunk!) with the key
  • Need to get extra plug to charge phone on longer drives #firstworldproblems
75%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)
100%

About The Author

Miranda Lightstone

As compact and race-ready as an Austin Mini Mk1 Cooper Works; don’t be fooled by her small stature. Miranda packs a serious drive, and a fair amount of ambitious horsepower, beneath her bespectacled grille. Plucky and always ready to hit apexes with precision, Miranda’s been round the track a few times with over a decade of driving and writing experience under her seatbelt. With an opinionated backseat driver who calls her Mum, and two cats at home that could care less what she’s got parked in the drive, Miranda passionately spends her time driving anything and everything she can. When she’s not behind the wheel, going for a quick run or exploring the world with her son, she’s relaxing with a glass of red wine, and must never be disturbed in those moments. Seriously. Unless you’re bringing her more wine, then pull up a chair…

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