The Road Ahead : February 2013
ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD FEB/MAR 2013 52 MOTORING | USED CAR REPORT nissan micra, 2007-2010 NISSAN'S K12 MICRA has enough basic charms to make it worthy of consideration by used car buyers after a small commuter-style vehicle or, possibly, a first car. In some eyes, cheeky styling and eye-catching colours lift it above shopping trolley status, too. For its physical size, the tiny five- door hatch body's interior space is surprising. Carrying four adults in moderate comfort is possible, though rear seats are really better suited to children. Nissan claimed 540 litres of load space with the rear seats folded. There are two versions to choose from. The standard model's basic kit includes anti-lock brakes with EBD and brake assist, dual airbags, and MP3- compatible CD player. Examples with the City Collection option are worth seeking, as they add 15" alloys, side and curtain airbags and six-stack CD. Micra's lap-only centre rear seatbelt and no ESC disappoint, though. Micra scores a three-star ANCAP crash rating. A 72 kW, 1.4-litre engine with four-speed auto is the only powertrain. There's no manual gearbox option. It's mild mannered, but still nippy enough about town thanks to the gearing. It will get the job done on the highway too, but feels like the small engine is working fairly hard. Around town nimbleness and manoeuvrability is aided by speed-sensitive electric power-steering and a small turning circle. A space-saver spare wheel is standard. K12 Micra doesn't appear to suffer from major inherent problems. Avoid examples that aren't well maintained and properly serviced, though. Interior trims can mark fairly easily. Watch for previous accident repairs and scuffed wheel rims, both common issues from city life's cut and thrust. Like any front- drive model, check for clunking noises from CV joints on low-speed, full-lock turns. UNDER THE PUMP: Between 5.7 and 8.5 litres/100 km, depending on model and driving conditions. PRICE RANGE: From $10,000 to $13,800, depending on year and model. COMPETITORS: Kia Rio 2007-2009, Hyundai Getz 2008-2010, Toyota Yaris 2008-2010. KNOW YOUR CAR: could you stop? Many drivers are surprised by how far an emergency stop takes, even in good conditions and at city speed limits. And it's often not appreciated that a doubling of speed quadruples the actual braking distance, due to the way kinetic energy increases. Total stopping distance is made up of the distance travelled in the time taken for the driver to perceive a hazard and react by applying the brakes, the vehicle brakes to operate and the actual stopping distance travelled under brakes. Driver perception and reaction times vary from driver to driver. Assume 1.0 second, and at 40 km/h the car travels 11.1 metres; at 60 km/h, 16.7 metres; and 80 km/h, 22.2 metres in that time. Fatigue, distraction, alcohol and medical conditions could all worsen this. Actual braking distances vary significantly too, according to road surface, wet or dry conditions, vehicle variables and tyres. Next time you drive though a school zone consider, at 40 km/h, total stopping distance under good conditions for a typical passenger vehicle is about 12m to 15m shorter than at 60 km/h. That extra distance could easily be a matter of life or death. WITH JOHN EWING, RACQ TECHNICAL RESEARCHER car questions Q. Is it still correct to only move radial tyres front to rear on the same side of the car during tyre rotations? A. Uni-directional and asymmetrical tyres are only rotated front to rear, same side. For other designs of tyres, front to rear or including diagonal cross car moves is perfectly acceptable. We recommend consulting the owner's handbook or a reliable tyre dealer for the most suitable pattern, especially if the spare is included. Q. What sort of shackle is required to connect my trailer's safety chain to the towing vehicle? A. Don't use unrated shackles such as those from the hardware, or stainless shackles. Bow shackles are preferred. Shackles must be suitably marked and compliant with AS2741-2002 (or equivalent) with break load limit at least 1.5 times Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM). Break load limit is typically six times the marked work load limit.