Bought my 1990 in 1995. I went with an automatic, because used stick shifts have generally been abused, as a rule of thumb, and I wanted something that was treated gently so I could abuse it. It was very well maintained, had all its service records, I knew it had not been in an accident because the thin sheet metal had all the dings and dents in the original paint one would expect from a 5 year old car. It had 12" wheels.
I could put $20 in the tank (at 1995 gas prices) and drive back and forth to school, work, and shopping for nearly a month. Being a 3 speed automatic, mileage was not nearly as good for me at highway speeds. It liked to go at a steady 90km/h. Over that, it let me know it was working.
Around town, it was zippy and responsive. I had no trouble keeping up with traffic, though it would not win any red light drag races. Out on the highway, I did manage to get it up to 140 km/h once on a downhill with a good tailwind; that's when I lost the heat shield from the catalytic converter. Besides that, I learned to get a good run at steep hills if there was more people in the car than just me if I wanted to maintain at least 100km/h by the top of the hill on the highway. I believe a 5 speed stick shift would have made this car perform better on the highway.
The turning radius was incredible. I could do a U-turn almost entirely within my own lane of traffic. This made parking a breeze in even the tightest of parking spots.
I put on a set of aftermarket fog lights. Turning them on resulted in a very noticeable drop in engine power, so I only used them when it was truly foggy and driving was slow.
It was not a car made for high speed twisties. There was plenty of body roll, and it would give up fairly easily. It wasn't outrageously terrible, I merely had to observe posted speed limits around said twisties.
It had great ground clearance; combined with the short wheelbase, the Micra had some decent off road capability, and I was known to take it down some pretty terrible roads that were supposedly only passable with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. One time, Highway 401 was shut down due to a jackknifed tractor trailer in Kingston, Ontario. It was freezing rain; when I stepped out to the highway, I nearly fell. Traffic was backed up all the way nearly to Cobourg, but I had missed the last exit and was trapped in non-moving traffic. The other side of the highway was completely empty of traffic. The guy in a 4x4 in front of me pulled off to the side and drove through the grass ditch up to the other side and drove in the opposite direction. I also pulled off to the side, took a good run at the ditch; the ground clearance and short wheelbase kept me clear from hanging up at the bottom, and the light weight of the car meant that I made it up the other side with relative ease, in spite of the freezing rain slicked grass. I turned and traveled the other way on the highway to get off in Cobourg so I could take Highway 2 back to Belleville. In my rear view mirror, I saw other motorists attempt the same thing, only to get stuck in the bottom of the ditch.
There's a set of railroad tracks on Thornton Road just south of Gibb in Oshawa that, if I hit at just the right speed in the Micra, would launch my Micra into the air, and it would neatly settle back on the road on the other side of the tracks without any trouble or harm to me or the car. Other cars get destroyed if they hit those tracks at any decent speed.
There was no factory tint, so I'd get sunburned through the side windows. This is why I tinted them, which seemed to attract the attention of the police who used to not even notice my humble little Micra but since then would issue a ticket if I even went 10km/h over the speed limit.
The car responded to my minimalist sensibilities, yet was still very fun to drive. Easy to work on as well. Hard to believe that, back then, with my minimal knowledge of automobiles, I managed to change out a broken rocker arm in my engine.
Being older and more responsible now, it's doubtful I'll want to launch my new Micra into the air, but I think the stronger engine will help it perform well on the highway and do more than hold its own in city traffic.
In our culture obsessed with absurd excess, the Nissan Micra is my counterculture car of choice.
Be sure to visit my blog at mymicra.com
View my fuel log 2015 Micra SV manual: 6.4 L/100 km ... 44.3 mpg (Imp) ... 15.7 km/L ... 36.9 mpg (US) ...