Mighty Nissan Micra braves blizzard for ailing cat

Written by on December 16, 2014 in Cars and Chicks, Perspectives, Trends - 22 Comments

Krystyna Lagowski 2015 Nissan MicraOur newly elected Mayor of Toronto, John Tory, recently declared that the gridlock on Toronto roads has reached crisis proportions. So it’s not just me kvetching about bulldozers and backhoes holding the city hostage!

But it’s not going to change overnight. The best way to get around town is with the smallest car possible. Of course, it’s also winter. And I’m not about to get hopelessly stuck like I did during last year’s snowmageddon of a winter. But what if I had winter tires on, say, a Nissan Micra? Wouldn’t that be just about perfect?

In case you don’t know, the Micra has a starting price of $9,998.00 – which hurtles it into the damn-near-impeccable league. How long did the engineers at Nissan huddle over their drafting boards and sliderules to conjure up a car for under $10,000? I had to see this tiny wonder for myself.Micra side

In eye-catching jewel tones of Caspian Sea blue, my 2015 Micra SV was priced a smidge over $9,998.00, but that was okay. I’ve gotten to where power windows and locks are de rigeur! With its small, rounded proportions, the Micra was a shiny blue bauble of a car, ready to strut its stuff around town.

Micra rearAs pint-sized as it was, the Micra was astoundingly well proportioned inside. I felt rather like I was sitting on a throne, as the driver’s seat was quite high. The interior was spare and congenially comfortable, with a minimalist steering wheel. I loved the whimsical vintage feel of the chrome ring-shaped door handles.

If it wasn’t quick off the mark with its 109 horsepower engine, the Micra soon won my heart with its Micra on a hillnimble handling and phenomenal turning radius. I am a U-turn junkie, and even in Toronto’s gridlocked streets, the Micra could whip around in a snap. Blocked by a crew with cranes? No problem! Unexpected detour? About-face in a cinch. Too many damn cars? I’m outta there. Time and again, the Micra could pirouette out of the tightest spots. Sometimes, agility trumps acceleration.

And then one morning, I woke up to find poor little Farfel, my 14 year old Burmilla cat, with a weepy eye. Despite the ominous sky, we had no choice but to visit the vet way over on the west side of town. Dr. Henry is worth his weight in kibble, and so I packed Farfel into his crate and into the Micra. As a former prize-winning showcat, Farfel rather enjoys being on the road, although he doesn’t care to travel with a weepy eye.

carrier in MicraHis crate fit nicely into the front passenger seat, and the seat belt easily slid through the handle, soundly securing Farfel. I turned on the heat and we wove through the streets, as big, wet floofy snowflakes fell all around us. The Micra steadily plodded forward on its 15-inch wheels, clad in winter tires, barely missing a beat.Farfel in Micra

Police were reporting a collision every three minutes, and I didn’t want to be a statistic. Most drivers were being cautious – as it was the first big snowstorm of the year, many had been caught unawares. Snow? In Toronto? In December? Preposterous!

But driving at a snail’s pace of 25 km/hr, it took 45 minutes to get to Dr. Henry’s. He greeted us with his usual abrupt charm, chiding me for risking life and limb for Farfel’s weepy eye. By this time, the reddish stain had reached half-way down Farfel’s face, and he looked like someone had beat him up. None too happy to be manhandled by Dr. Henry, he still allowed himself to be poked and prodded about the face. Dr. Henry pronounced it a simple case of stress-eye, nothing serious

Micra front

We left with a tube of antibiotics and Lycine, to be administered regularly, and a stern warning to drive carefully. As we picked our way along the snowy roads, the Micra felt cozy, safe and warm, and Farfel even fell asleep. I could hear him snoring up a storm in his crate, and I didn’t wonder.

As tiny as it was, the Micra had proven itself a winter warrior.

Size doesn’t matter. It’s heart and spirit that save the day.

And – winter tires.

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22 Comments on "Mighty Nissan Micra braves blizzard for ailing cat"

  1. Ken Dowell December 16, 2014 at 4:35 am · Reply

    I always had the impression that small cars are terrible in snow, that they have no traction because of their weight. Surprised to hear about a car for under $10k that is a “winter warrior.” And it must be nice to have a new mayor.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 16, 2014 at 10:20 pm · Reply

      Ken, it used to be that small cars had rear wheel drive, no ground clearance, and too much weight in the front. So of course, they were terrible in the snow, as were many cars. The Micra had front wheel drive, decent ground clearance, and was well designed and balanced. And North American consumers are demanding, you wouldn’t dare try to sell a car that can’t deal with snow. And yes, it is SO wonderful to have a new mayor : ))

  2. Jacqueline Gum (Jacquie) December 16, 2014 at 11:15 am · Reply

    Like Ken, I was completely surprised by this! All my many winters in snowy Wisconsin, I was told NO to a small car for winter travel. Mostly I am happy to hear that it safely transported Farfel to the vet and he was was treated properly! Small winter warriors indeed:)

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 16, 2014 at 10:16 pm · Reply

      Oh, Jackie, I don’t know what the snowfall is like in Wisconsin. In Toronto, I don’t think it’s as challenging as it might be outside of the city. Nonetheless, there are still plenty of ways to get into trouble, especially when it’s the first big snowfall. I can’t overstate the importance of winter tires – and even a small car like the Micra has good ground clearance as well as front wheel drive. All important factors that even Farfel appreciated …

  3. Cheryl December 16, 2014 at 12:09 pm · Reply

    Although I am partial to little cars because, well, they’re just cute. Driving in Winter in a little car? Not happening. I am so surprised by this little wonder you describe. Sounds like fun and a good get around car in all weather.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 16, 2014 at 10:03 pm · Reply

      Cheryl, little cars are darn cute, and they have lots of other advantages too. Today’s small cars aren’t that little – they’re just smaller than other cars. And they’re much better designed and built, so it’s just a matter of having the right tires and staying focused. No matter what the weather!

  4. Tim December 16, 2014 at 6:07 pm · Reply

    I lived in Chicago for many years and whipped around town in a mini cooper for several of those years through snowfall and blizzard. Here’s for the little car with a big heart. And under 10K…that’s impressive. As for your cat I understand his stress at his journey for antibiotics taking 45 minutes. The price of a gorgeous city in the winter 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 16, 2014 at 10:01 pm · Reply

      And there you go, Tim, glad to hear it! Small cars can take on winter when they’re properly equipped. And the Micra is HUGE compared to a mini cooper! Cars have gotten so much bigger, what we consider tiny is only a matter of perspective. Farfel survived his ordeal, and is kinda thankful for winter tires as well …

  5. Virginia Heffernan December 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm · Reply

    It would be interesting to know when winter tires became more common than not in Canada. I know my parents didn’t have them and I haven’t gotten around to enduring the hassle either. Instead, I was taught how to steer myself out a skid and have used that heart-stopping skill on many occasions, especially on the treacherous driveway up to my parents’ place (where the instruction is simply to “gun it” so that you have enough momentum to get up the hill).

    I feel like I went away for a couple of years, came back and “poof” all the cool kids had winter tires. I think, like bicycle helmets, they should be mandatory, but when did they become popular?

    Also K, if you can ever do a post on which new cars have overcome the poor rear view vision problem (without beeps and cameras), I would read it and share it widely. I know it’s a problem for a lot of people.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 16, 2014 at 9:58 pm · Reply

      Hey Virginia, I can tell you that in 2008, when winter tires became mandatory in Quebec, people became more aware of their benefits. Especially since it resulted in a huge shortage of winter tires elsewhere in Canada! Tire technology has also come a long way, they’re not as noisy as they used to be. In most northern European countries like Finland and Sweden, they are mandatory. They think we’re crazy for not making them mandatory across the board. I’ve been to skid control school many a time (just ‘cuz it’s fun), and good on you for having that knowledge. And I will indeed consider your suggestion about rear vision issues, it’s a good ‘un.

  6. Lenie December 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm · Reply

    HI Krystyna, love the little Nissan but really appreciate your emphasis on winter tires. What would we do in snow country without them. Although winter seemed to come on with a roar this year, seems that was just a teaser and we’ve had nothing really major since. Good to know Farfel is OK, Have a great Christmas.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 18, 2014 at 2:08 am · Reply

      Well, Lenie, good winter tires can make such a huge difference! I don’t know how anyone does without them. Even if it doesn’t snow so much, you have better grip when it gets cold. Let’s cross our fingers that our blizzard season will be minimal this winter! And yes, Farfel is doing nicely, thank you. All the best of the season to you and yours as well : ))

  7. Jeri December 17, 2014 at 9:12 pm · Reply

    Yes, and winter tires too 🙂 What you said in a comment makes sense. I too would have thought little cars to not do as well in the snow, but that doesn’t really fly. I used to drive a Neon many moons ago and it always handled great in the snow.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 18, 2014 at 2:10 am · Reply

      It used to be that small cars didn’t do well in the snow because they had rear-wheel drive, and usually very little ground clearance. Now pretty much every small car out there has front-wheel drive, and sits higher up. I’ll bet you miss your Neon – those were zippy little cars!

  8. Meredith Wouters December 18, 2014 at 1:07 am · Reply

    I’ve never lived in a place that needed winter tires. Do you actually change out all the tires on your car? I think I’d love a clever little car like this one. And I’m glad to hear Farfel is on his way to recovery! I used to have a cat that would yowl the whole way to and from the vet. 🙂

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 18, 2014 at 2:13 am · Reply

      Oh, you’re so lucky, Meredith! Yes, it’s recommended to change all four tires – actually, to have them on separate rims so you can just pop them on and off. Of course, everyone leaves it to the last minute! You’d for sure enjoy the Micra, in any kind of weather. And Farfel is quite fine in the car, doesn’t yowl at all. THAT must have made you crazy, poor little guy.

  9. William Rusho December 18, 2014 at 3:32 pm · Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. I live in Upstate NY, on the other side of the Lake in the snow belt and we get white outs all the time. (Funny thing is, many of the readers of your blog may not know what we are talking about). I am looking for an inexpensive car that is good in the snow; you may have provided me with one.

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 19, 2014 at 3:59 am · Reply

      Oh, that’s funny, never occurred to me. For the record, a white-out is when there’s so much snow you can’t see where you’re going – not just the goop that covers up mistakes! The Micra is certainly well-priced, and if you pop on a set of good winter tires, you’re all set to go – even in upstate New York, where I know the snow can get pretty serious.

  10. Arleen December 18, 2014 at 10:02 pm · Reply

    Boy can’t believe the snow you have already. I thought small cars were bad in the snow because of the weight. With a great price tag Nissan Micra will be popular especially for those first time buyers

    • Krystyna Lagowski December 19, 2014 at 4:00 am · Reply

      Arleen, I surely hope it won’t be as bad as last winter! Small cars have come a long way in the past few years, and the Micra is proof. And yes, it is perfect for anyone buying their first car.

  11. andleeb December 20, 2014 at 4:13 pm · Reply

    I got scared when I saw this small car on snow. I was thinking it was not good idea. I can remember snow of Kashmir where whole road was blocked but cars and people on roads chain the tyres to pull out of snow.

    It is amazing it such a small car is snow warrior.

    I hope your cat is also feeling better now.

    Happy Holidays

  12. Susan Cooper January 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm · Reply

    I too have had the impression that small cars are terrible in snow. Part of that is from past (way past) experience. That said it did surprised me to hear about this car a that incredible price. I don’t have an issue with winer snow here so that would be a factor but I do love the price.

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