Heard about the Nissan Micra that's actually good to drive? Step forward the 160SR

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, December 10, 2021 / Loading comments

Are you in the market for a reliable and fun station car? If so, this could be your lucky day. No, Shed hasn’t gone mad, he really is seriously suggesting that a K12 Micra might be worthy of your attention. We all know how great the K11s were and indeed still are if you can find a rust-free one, but the 2002-on K12 successor acquired a reputation (in the UK at least) for being about as much fun as a night out with Mrs Shed.

Plenty of K12s were bought here at the start because they were Nissans and because they were cheap. They weren’t as cheap in relative terms as the K11 though because Nissan had tried to stick them with a more grandiose image and price ticket. Continental owners seemed happier about buying into that baloney so the K12 did all right in chic places like Paris. Brits, however, became a bit cynical about what seemed to be a newly introduced fragility and began looking wistfully back at the K11 with its cheery punchbag willingness to keep going no matter what.

Hold hard before you dismiss this particular K12 though. This one has a roof spoiler and a 160SR badge on the boot lid. Before we get to what that badge meant, be advised that the 160SR launch in 2005 coincided with a K12 range refresh which restyled and beefed up the bumpers, supposedly in response to calls from French city drivers for more bumper-car crash resistance.

The 2005 revamp also brought some worthwhile en-beefening of the seats, glass thickness and soundproofing, boosting comfort and refinement. The amber indicators were replaced by clears. It was still no looker, but now there was a closer relationship between the quality image Nissan was trying to sting buyers for and the quality reality those buyers wanted.

OK, so getting back to that boot badge, the 160 part was clearly intended to give you the impression that there was 160hp up at the other end. In reality it referred to nothing more thrilling than the size of the HR16DE engine, a conventional 1.6-litre four-pot with variable valve timing on the intake cam and between 108hp and 111hp at 6,000rpm depending on who you believed and 113lb ft at 4,400rpm. Via Jukes, Qashqais and Dusters, this unit is still kicking around today in Nissan Sunnies and various Renaults. Timing is by chain, which could stretch over time. Some faulty ignition units were replaced under warranty and some engine mounts crumbled but generally speaking it’s a sturdy if not especially inspiring motor.

In the £9,995 Micra 160SR it had 1,071kg to push, giving it a 0-62 time in the high nines, a 114mph top end and a combined economy figure of 42.8mpg. Nowt special there, but the 160SR’s chassis mods looked serious enough on paper to actuate some grudging eyebrow-raising. These included lowering, stiffer springs (20 percent front, 10 percent rear), a 27 percent increase in roll stiffness, a 55 percent increase in rear twist beam stiffness and a fatter front anti-roll bar. All the sort of stuff you might do to your own Micra if you were planning on shoving a considerably pokier motor up it. In the 160SR’s case it was reputedly done by the team responsible for the European-spec 350Z.

Anyway, whoever did it, it seemed to work. Magazine reviews were surprisingly positive about the 160SR once they’d got past the power shortage that had been cruelly exposed by Nissan’s bonkers choice of Cadwell Park as the UK launch venue. Kinder scribblers concentrated instead on how the car went on the A and B roads around Cadwell, where they found it ‘really convincing’, ‘composed and agile’, and ‘genuinely fun’ with decent feel from the weightier steering. They also liked the car’s high spec level and its low insurance. All in all then, perhaps not quite as stupid a choice as you might have thought when you first saw it besmirching your screen this morning/afternoon/evening.

Even though the 160SR was part of the Nissan range for five years, only 1,100 of them were sold in the UK in a mix of three- or (as here) five-door variants so you didn’t see many of them around. Tellingly, 815 160SRs remain registered here, more than nine out of ten of which are still actively beetling around on UK roads. That’s a pretty impressive reliability/build quality record.

This particular example looks very clean indeed and it holds a clean MOT to next November. It has ‘slaughtered in the forums and then quietly bought’ written all over it.


Here’s the full ad

Source: Read Full Article