By on September 25, 2014

2015 Nissan MicraNissan Canada markets their new entry-level car with a $9998 base price. (It’s $11,398 with destination, $14,698 with a 4-speed auto and air conditioning.)

The Micra is a sub-Versa car in a small car lineup that includes the Sentra and Juke, but no longer the Cube. It is the cheapest car in Canada. Its most obvious direct rival, aside from the Versa, would be the Mitsubishi Mirage. Our managing editor, a certain Mr. Kreindler, says the chassis is “promising” and “shockingly adept.”

You might also be shocked to see the level of popularity achieved by the Micra so early on in its Canadian tenure.

Micra volume rose steadily from 201 units in April, when at the end of the month Nissan sent a couple hundred Micras to Quebec, to 1250 in July, when the Micra ended the month as Canada’s 18th-best-selling passenger car, just ahead of the surging Kia Soul.

1250 sales is close to the monthly average achieved by Canada’s fourth-best-selling midsize car in 2013, the Hyundai Sonata. In other words, these aren’t small potatoes.

Ignore best seller lists for a moment, however, and consider the impact on the Nissan brand itself, Canada’s second-fastest-growing volume automaker, behind only Jeep. Sales at the Nissan brand have risen 32% in 2014, or 24% if the Micra’s figures are excluded.

Over the last three months – June, July, and August – the Micra has accounted for one out of every ten Nissan vehicles sold in Canada: 8.8% in June, 11.7% in July, and 8.8% again in August.

11% of the Nissans sold during that three-month span were Altimas; 8% were Pathfinders. The Rogue is Nissan Canada’s top-selling model, with 8020 (26%) of the Nissan brand’s summer volume.

The Micra may also be shining a usefully bright light on other small Nissans. Sentra sales, down 10% this year through the first five months of 2014, have increased 5% over the last three months. Versa volume continued to rise dramatically through July despite the Micra’s appearance in showrooms, although August sales tanked in comparison with 2013’s highest month.

There was a moment in which it appeared the Micra was out to kill off the Mitsubishi Mirage, as Mirage volume slid 50% from a record high 577 units in April to just 286 in May. But the Mirage has since stabilized, recording three consecutive months above 400 units after averaging fewer than 300 monthly sales in the preceding eight months.

Beyond outselling the far more third-worldly Mirage, assisting in Nissan’s rapid growth, and attracting attention to the fresh Nissan small car lineup, the Micra is another sign that the Canadian market matters. At least as a test bed.

The B-Class is responsible for 15% of Mercedes-Benz Canada’s passenger car volume this year. Chevrolet Orlando volume has fallen off precipitously, likely answering a question few had asked in regards to the U.S. market, but the Trax, soon to be an American model as well, sells 48% more often than the Buick Encore.

Nissan has been far more flagrant in its massaging of Canadians’ inferiority complex. Drape a car in enough red and white and eventually that inferiority complex flips upside down: “We get what you can’t have, ‘Murica.”

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29 Comments on “10% Of The Nissans Sold In Canada Are Micras...”

  • avatar

    …and I’m guessing that 99% of that 10% are sold in Quebec.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes..Nissan should offer a special Quebec version complete with:
      – black steel wheels and snow tires
      – plug-in heater cable dangling out the front grill
      – a half full container of windshield washer fluid in the back seat
      – early signs of corrosion forming around the gas filler door
      – a generous amount of scuffs and impacts on the front and rear bumpers
      – a rear view mirror with a mascara/eyeliner adjustment setting for the hot bunette driving to work during rush hour while forgetting about the stopped rental Camry full of Yanks trying to make their flight on time who will then try to plead ignorance to the rental car company for the fresh scuff on the rear bumper. She was that hot.

  • avatar

    Well, Derek is correct. The bones on this car are quite capable and very acceptable. Not quite as refined as some of the other small cars available in world markets, but more than enough to satisfy drivers of larger cars who would give a smaller car a chance. And yes, from everything I’ve red, it would seem the Micra is a a step or two above the Mirage.

    Just a note, the Micra is not a sub-Versa, it’s just a Versa hatch, with a different design that makes the relationship not that obvious.

  • avatar

    It’s a good car (unlike the Yaris or Spark) for a good price (unlike the Fiesta) from a company that isn’t on the ropes and has a real dealer network (unlike the Mirage).

    Yes, you could get a used Civic, but then you’d use more fuel (especially in the city) and have less warranty coverage. Fixed costs for the term of payment are a thing not often appreciated by enthusiasts.

    I see these (and Mirages) with some frequency in southern Ontario. I expect they’re going to supplant the Yaris/Echo as the cockroach car, and Nissan could have some higher-margin buyers hooked if the Micra is reliable.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    Never underestimate how many Canadians love miserable little cars.

    Oh, and that “inferiority complex” is typical for our self-loathing socialists.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      More like “Never underestimate Canadian’s willingness to buy the cheapest new car on offer.”

      Ladas were best sellers, as well as the Hyundai Pony. I think we even had a de-contented Chevette (Pontiac T1000), if that’s even possible.

      I think it has a lot to do with our rust issues, and thus the fact that a lot of people would rather buy new than used.

      Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, many of these cars are winter beaters for people who put away their nice car in the Fall. It’s always a small thrill on the first nice weekend of Spring when the Porsches and vintage Chevelles come out of hiding.

      • 0 avatar

        The popularity of puny stripper econo cars in Canada (especially Quebec) is due to a variety of reasons. Less expendable income, relative higher car prices and higher fuel costs. There’s probably an element of Euro taste preference in there as well.

        • 0 avatar

          Danio, don’t forget GST and PST which combined can be 13.5%. Adds quite a bite to the purchase price. Also there is very little parking in downtown Montreal and Quebec City. A micro-car makes sense as a cheap commuter/winter beater.

    • 0 avatar

      As a Canadian I would love to have some real socialists around. Sigh.

      Interesting car. I just can’t see buying one over a used midsize.

  • avatar

    Not surprising, if nissan would put the frontier price back down to 1999 levels below 10k, I’m sure sales would double or triple.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Anecdotally, I see a few of these rolling around, and bunch of Notes, but cannot recall seeing a Versa sedan, or a current Sentra. I guess people just like the hatches more in Ottawa.

  • avatar

    My mother had one of these as an Avis rental this summer. It’s a cute car, but I was pretty surprised when I realized the trim she had (automatic with A/C) cost close to $15000. I sat in the back seat for an hour drive and my butt was very sore after that hour was over. Probably the most uncomfortable seats I’ve ever experienced.

    The engine wheezed up hills as if it was having a severe asthma attack. So if anyone is buying anything besides the $9998 version, they might need a brain transplant, what with with the abundance of better choices out there in the $15000 range.

    • 0 avatar

      While I can’t see spending $15k for one of these, I can see the logic in buying the $10k stripper as a cheap commuter, and selling at about 4.5 years with just a little bit of powertrain warranty left.

      I can’t see getting one of these myself, and I don’t always drive to work, but it looks as though it might not be a bad city car. Good on gas, and easy to park – and you’re not likely to worry too much about leaving it in sketchy downtown parking lots.

      About the only thing that I would really miss on the base model would be AC; I would prefer a 5MT to a 4AT (especially in this class of car), and could live without the premium audio and power gadgets for short trips. Unlocking a car with a key would be a bit odd at this point, but I’m sure I could get used to it.

      If I was planning any significant number of long trips I would rather have a larger, better equipped vehicle. And for $15k there are other, better, choices. But as a cheap semi-disposable city car, I can see the logic in buying a new Micra.

      • 0 avatar

        Disappointingly, you can get the base model with A/C, but only if you get the automatic. Otherwise, you’ve got to step up to the midrange model to get both the manual and air.

        That said, it’s not a bad car for $9998, but it’s not a great car by any stretch of the imagination.

    • 0 avatar

      I have the top of the 3 versions available in Mexico and it has turned out to be one of the best purchase decisions I have ever made.

      Amazing how the same thing can result in diametrically opposed opinions. I guess the French are right, vive la difference! All I can say is if you are looking for a great little car give this one a test drive and then get back to us.

      As to the brain-transplant thing. I spoke with our family neurosurgeon and after doing the math we concluded that it was cheaper to take the hit on the 15 large rather than the 1.5 million for a Full-Monty brain transplant.

      PS. Just got a job as a part time professor in the State University here, so I surmise they didn’t realize I had a fully optioned Nissan March. I am training future teachers, so I must restrain my temptation to send them out to their respective schools and spreading the fallacy of buying over-optioned Nissans.

    • 0 avatar

      How many Canadians need/want AC*? I suspect autos can be easily seen as “too American” and avoided as well.

      I can see why there might be a big difference in sales.

      • 0 avatar

        Its almost October, and it was 25 C (77 F) here at lunch, per my car. Its above 20 pretty much across the lower half of the country (where the majority of Canadians live), at the moment. Pretty much every Canadian I know prefers A/C, and I would suggest needs it.

      • 0 avatar

        I suspect most do; amongst my friends who’ve all purchased cars in the past couple of years, all of them included A/C. I’ve heard that, for whatever reason, Quebec sells a lot of base model cars, but in from what I’ve seen in the local used market (live in Ottawa) most people end up buying the step up from base or a mid-range trim that includes ameneties like A/C, power windows, automatic transmission but short of the fully-loaded models.

        Looking for fully-loaded used models really restricts what you can buy around here (in my experience, anyway).

        It’s Canada, but summers can be uncomfortably hot; there can be years where you’ll experience 40 Celsius heat in the summer (with humidity factored in) and then -30 Celsius in the winter later that year (sometimes that’s not even with windchill factored in). Those are extreme examples, but gives you an idea of the ridiculous seasonal changes we have to live in.

        • 0 avatar

          Extreme, but not that extreme – in Toronto, it pretty reliably hit 40 last summer, and we had several days this past winter where it legitimately felt like -40. Neither are all that pleasant to be outside working in.

          Also, for a site full of car guys who’re big on refinement and low NVH and all that, you’d think A/C would be naturally preferable to sometimes deafeningly loud 4/100 climate control.

      • 0 avatar

        Even if you don’t need the A/C that often in the summer, the A/C compressor will run as a dehumidifier in the winter, which helps keep your windows free of fog.

      • 0 avatar

        50% of Canadians (give or take) live in Southern Ontario/Southern Quebec. Summertime weather in Southern Ontario is very similar to Chicago/Detroit/Cleveland, i.e., hot and humid with temperatures in the high 20s-30s (85-90 F) from late May until September. I have never owned a car without AC. If any Canadian declines AC when purchasing a car, their cheapskate gene must be overriding their desire to be comfortable.

  • avatar

    Nissan Micra, Cockroach of the North!

    Good to see Americans still believe the temperature drops at the Canadian border, as if by divine intervention!
    My first indication of that came in a lineup for the US pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. Americans were complaining in the 92 F heat that Canada should be cool, just 50 miles north of New York State.

    Right, and Miss America couldn’t find Nebraska on a map either.

    About sums it all up.

    • 0 avatar

      “Right, and Miss America couldn’t find Nebraska on a map either.”

      Few can. That’s why most of it has a population <25/sq. mile.

      It's probably really nice there.

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