Before this article was written, had any of you ever heard of the Micra K10? This is one of those cars that had quite a successful run, having been sold from 1982 to 1992, and yet few people in the United States have ever heard of it. Simple reason for that: it wasn’t sold in the U.S..
To further complicate the issue, it was produced by Nissan but for two years it was sold under the Datsun name. Now not everyone knows that Nissan once was Datsun, so for younger drivers that may have really clouded the soup so to speak.
Whatever! What we do know about the Micra K10 is that it was Nissan’s entry into the supermini category, a three-door hatchback that replaced the Nissan Cherry. It only had a 1.0-liter engine and gave out 108 horsepower, and yet when the turbo was added to it in 1985, this Micra could go from 0-60 in 7.7 seconds and it had a top speed of 112 mph. Not too shabby for what was basically a shoebox with wheels.
The Micra was sold in Japan, Canada, and Europe, and it was sold by lottery with only 10,000 units made each year. It came with a three-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission was optional, and it actually had options like air-conditioning and electric mirrors.
If you were looking for beauty you would be disappointed with the Micra, but performance was better than average. Chief competition was the Honda City, the Be-1, the Pao, and the Figaro, all cars sold in Europe and not in the United States. Why? In the 80’s America was not ready for a supermini car. Too bad because during its lifetime it gained a reputation for reliability and economy, and actually rated first for several years as having fewer breakdowns than any small car on the market, rated at 7.5 breakdowns per 1,000 vehicles four years old or older. That is seriously good reliability!
If you are lucky enough to run across one of the Micras, hold onto it. What a great collector item. As with all Nissan products, the Micra was built to last, and there is no doubt that quite a few of them are still being driven in Japan and Europe. Chances are also great that you can still find used parts for them at reputable salvage yards. When you want the best but can only afford the not-so-best, shop at your local junkyard.