All the looks without the voom

 

 

The new Nissan Micra sparkled its silver sparkle in the driveway. Sliding into the passenger seat, my mother — in Johannesburg visiting the grandson — marvelled at how classy and just-a-little-sporty the new Micra is. Gone are the soft corners and in are jutting, muscular edges.

I get in to drive. Getting comfy in the seat takes a little muscle. No electronics here if you want the seat to recline — just that good old fashioned wheel on the side of the seat that you have to contort your arm to reach (which means you risk giving yourself a wrist sprain moving your seat).

Once that’s done and you’re set to drive, you notice the open space, front and back, plenty of legroom for passengers and that bulky baby seat.

The interior is posh and includes a wide touch screen to navigate between your cellphone and your music streaming. Standard bluetooth stuff these days but very useful to have. This usefulness extends to the touch buttons on the steering wheel, which is good news in the city because it means there are no valuables in sight.

And as a mother with a new childminder, I need to be accessible all the time and can’t afford to miss one call. With a large screen I can easily connect to my phone in the boot without taking my eyes off the road.

The wider pressure on Nissan, and other car manufacturers, to be more thoughtful about the environment is reflected in the dashboard.

There’s the standard speedometer, rev counter and then some little green nudges like a measure of CO2 emissions — showing how much you’ve saved — and gear up and gear down indicators to help with more efficient driving.

There are other power saving plusses. As someone who has to perpetually hunt for a kind soul with jumper cables to kickstart my battery — after I’ve jumped out in a rush and left the headlamps on — the Micra’s automatic headlights are a saviour.

Air conditioning is standard these days and there’s no observable power lag when you turn it on.

The multi-function steering wheel comes with a cruise control system, perfect for those long drives. But there are problems with how this car drives. As much as the Micra has been touted as a contender in the hatchback category, it does not have the kick when you depress the accelerator, and the drive takes a bit of getting used to.


The gear shift is not as smooth as one would expect of such a small car and it gets quite loud when you push it over its rev range.

Driving in the city starts to become bothersome, with a lot of gear changing between robots. The ratio does work when you get out on the open road and set the cruise control at 120km/h. Then, the ride is much smoother and even when you have to decrease speed the car does not force you to change down to lower gears.

Not that you want to spend too much time on the open road or on a long trip. The beauty of the interior does not equate to comfort and luxury after a few hours — this is definitely a car better suited for trips around a city.

Nonetheless, once you understand that the Micra has one of the smallest engines — about 900cc — and is rated at 5.1-litres/100km with CO2 emissions of 115g/km you might want to give it a bit of a break.

The idle-stop system will also reduce the fuel consumption and level of CO2 emissions — and get you brownie points from colleagues who ride their bicycles to work in pursuit of saving the planet.

Being a planet warrior, though, also requires one to cook baby food at home and carry numerous bags. Baby seat, baby on hip, bags in hand and trying to open the Micra’s rear doors to dispose of all this does not work. The door handles on the windows are too high for an ecowarrior mommy. So it has practicality problems if you’re more than a single person, or a couple who just want a car to cruise around town.

But if you are that single person, or that couple, then this car, with its R250 000 price tag, has a good balance of zip and sophistication. 

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Athandiwe Saba
Athandiwe Saba

Athandiwe Saba is a multi award-winning journalist who is passionate about data, human interest issues, governance and everything that isn’t on social media. She is an author, an avid reader and trying to find the answer to the perfect balance between investigative journalism, online audiences and the decline in newspaper sales. It’s a rough world and a rewarding profession.

Advertising

‘Tenderpreneurs’ block the delivery of protective equipment to schools

Protests by local suppliers have delayed PPE delivery, which according to the DBE, is one of the reasons the reopening of schools has been pushed back until June 8

‘Soon he’ll be seen as threatening, not cute’: What it’s...

There is no separating George Floyd’s killing from the struggles black people have faced ever since the first slave ships landed on these shores

How schools could work during Covid

Ahead of their opening, the basic education department has given schools three models to consider to ensure physical distancing
Advertising

Press Releases

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

Wills, Estate Administration and Succession Planning Webinar

Capital Legacy has had no slowdown in lockdown regarding turnaround with clients, in storing or retrieving wills and in answering their questions

Call for Expression of Interest: Training supply and needs assessment to support the energy transition in South Africa

GIZ invites eligible and professional companies with local presence in South Africa to participate in this tender to support the energy transition

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday