Welcome to Depreciation Appreciation! Every month, your pals at autoTRADER.ca dig up an instance of how depreciation can make for an extraordinary used car deal.
This month, we’ll check on how one of the market’s most affordable modern cars stacks up price-wise, as a used car buy at just a few years old.
When the Nissan Micra hit Canadian roads for 2015, basic versions of this Japanese subcompact could be had for a tick under $10,000 – that’s for a brand-new car with a full warranty.
Stands to reason that today, at a few years old, a second-hand copy of a Nissan Micra could put shoppers into a nearly new car for a significant cost savings.
With a flexible five-door hatchback body and surprisingly pleasing performance and ride quality, Micra was a joy to drive like nothing at the price point. Today, used copies are hitting the marketplace readily. In fact, some models even offer shoppers access to a three-year-old car with remaining warranty coverage for under $6,000!
All Micra models were five-door hatchbacks with split-folding rear seats, front-wheel drive, and a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission. With a focus on affordable access to a full-function brand-new car, Micra was available in a variety of trim grades to suit a wide range of needs and budgets. Higher-end models got Bluetooth, power accessories, cruise control, and an upgraded stereo system. Alloy wheels and sporty cosmetic add-ons were also available.
The Micra S was the entry-level model – with a brand-new price tag of about $9,998. For the minimalist driver after great fuel economy and limited complexity, it’s the way to go: with no power accessories, no cruise control, and a manual transmission, this barebones Micra variant is light, easy on fuel, fun to drive, and has few components that are likely to require much attention as it ages. If you’re after a dead-simple runabout that probably won’t give you any headaches, this is the way to go.
All units ran a 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, good for 109 horsepower.
Approximate New Value
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From Micra S’s stripped-down starting price of about $10,000, the model range also included the mid-range, high-value Micra SV, and the sportier, top-line Micra SR. These higher-grade models pushed pricing up around $14,000 and $16,000 respectively.
Approximate Used Value
After a stellar example of the benefits of shopping for Canada’s least-expensive car at just a few years old? How about this low-mileage Micra SV, on offer at just three years old, for $6,000? Here’s another example. And another – though this last one’s a little higher on mileage, so we imagine you’d be able to haggle a little on the pricing.
More examples like this are common – priced around $6,000 for a (maximum) three-year old car with reasonable miles.
This low-mileage Micra SR is fully loaded with alloys, a back-up camera, fog lamps and more – and comes in at $11,000 for a fully loaded package that’s still got heaps of warranty remaining. That’s a savings of about $5,000 versus new, with just 24,000 kilometres on the dial! Here’s a similar example with a few more miles.
The gist? Look for a base-model Micra S with 40,000 to 60,000 kilometres of use, and you’ll be in a nearly new car for about $6,000, all day long.
Test Drive Tips
Confirm that the air conditioner, if equipped, is in proper working order – noting that loud operation is considered normal, but that the system should effectively pump cold air into the cabin within a few seconds of being turned on. If that’s not the case, have a technician investigate and get an estimate for repairs before you buy.
Check that all lighting provisions are working properly, and that all light housings are securely attached – some owners have reported headlights that may become loose if a clip or bolt used to secure them in place becomes broken or loose.
Be sure to start the engine from dead cold (ensure it hasn’t been pre-warmed ahead of your arrival) and listen for a loud knocking or ticking sound immediately upon start-up. Some owners have reported issues with engine “piston slap”, which can result in these unwelcome noises, and also be evidenced by excessive oil consumption (so check the oil level on your test drive, and continue to do so regularly). This issue may also trip a check engine light, which you’ll need to have diagnosed.
If the Micra you’re considering is still covered by its powertrain warranty, be sure to have any issues you detect documented by your dealer service department to help speed future warranty repairs, if needed. Though these engine problems are reported rarely against overall sales volume, they’re worth being aware of.
Note that any excessive notchiness or difficulty shifting the manual transmission may indicate the need for some repair or servicing of the shifter cable linkage, and that all units should have their tires, brakes, wheel bearings, and suspension professionally inspected before you buy, for maximum peace of mind.
Though a rare-but-serious issue with possible engine trouble dulls the appeal slightly, Micra’s commonly reported issues should be easy to detect on a test drive, and remedy, if needed. Provided there’s no sign of engine trouble, this one can be bought with relative confidence for affordable access to one of the most affordable cars going.