It is probably the most difficult thing in the world; making a low-cost car that is actually appealing. While the Micra Active is a stripped down, ‘low-cost’ form of the Micra, the Wagon R Stingray, conversely, is an embellished version of the popular Wagon R. These cars were separated by a whole segment but now the austere form of the Micra and the jazzed-up Wagon R compete at the same price point, which of course makes for an interesting comparison.
So, what has changed? The Micra Active is essentially a re-badged pre-facelift Micra that loses a few of its bells and whistles such as climate control and alloy wheels on the top-spec variant. It’s not just cosmetic though, the Active also loses a substantial 10bhp from its engine as part of the re-tuning process (more on that later). On the other hand, the Wagon R Stingray can be thought of as a Wagon R that offers a more contemporary front design with a fully revised grill, projector headlamps and a bolder bumper. Apart from that, the car is pretty much unchanged in profile and, at the rear, the tail-lamps get pseudo chrome treatment. Under the hood, the Stingray comes with absolutely no changes and retains the same 1.0-litre three-cylinder heart of the standard Wagon R.
What are they like to drive?
Both these cars are very easy to drive in the city but the Micra Active has an edge over the Wagon R, owing to its better engine. Nissan has re-tuned the engine to deliver faster responses and it has worked. Don’t let the decrease in power deter you. Despite the decrease in power (the car previously made 76bhp), we found this new state-of-tune to be much peppier than the previous car. The 67bhp 1.2-litre petrol feels peppy and flexible for a small engine and the well damped vibrations mean you can hardly tell it is a three-cylinder motor. Since it has a larger engine than the Stingray, the Micra has better pulling power too. It pulls quite well from low speeds and revs strongly all the way to the top. There is a fair bit of engine noise that starts at moderate engine speeds (at about 2,500rpm), and in lower gears, gearbox whine intrudes into the cabin making city driving a slightly noisier affair than it is in the Wagon R.
The Stingray’s three-cylinder engine isn’t bad, but when compared to the