Nissan Micra C+C

Which comes first, the Mini or the Micra? Michael Booth sizes up Nissan's C+C

Would suit: Dolly birds and dolly blokes
Price (as tested): £15,250
Maximum speed: 119mph, 0-60mph in 10 seconds
Combined fuel economy: 42mpg
Further information: 01923 899 334

You're still going to want a Mini Cooper Cabriolet, aren't you? I mean, even after seeing that the Nissan Micra C+C is better value, and has a folding glass and metal roof which means greater security and far better visibility than the Cooper's claustrophobic canvas one. Even when you've heard about all the extras that come as standard in the Nissan - which you would have to cough up several monthly mortgage repayments to obtain in the Mini - you are still going to ring the bank, make whining noises down the phone, ignore that awful old avocado bathroom suite that you've been meaning to rip out since you moved in six years ago, and buy the Mini.

But wait just a minute. I know it's a Nissan, and I know it looks like an extra from a Pixar animation, but the C+C is a really terrific little car. For a start, it's fun to drive; the Micra hatchback upon which it is based was a sound car to begin with: peppy, eager and it made a good fist of the twisty bits. The C+C has a pumped-up version of the best Micra engine - a 16 valve, 1.6 litre - but, to be honest, it is still pretty sluggish. It carries an extra 126kg of chassis stiffening which is equivalent, say, to driving around with John Prescott and a giant tray of pies as ballast. But I still really enjoyed driving it. A slick gear change and an engine that lives happily at the higher end of its rev range helps.

The Mini has always had reliability issues which makes the UK-designed, Sunderland-built Micra not only more British than the BMW Series, but indisputably better built. Impressive rigidity over potholes is a good sign that the C+C is well engineered; another is the good-quality-for-the-price interior. Plus, the Micra has vastly more boot space than the Mini (457 litres with the roof up, versus, ooh, I reckon about half a pint in the Mini), it will cost less to insure, and drinks less petrol (a diesel is due next year, too).

Of course, if you are cruising the showrooms for a cheap convertible this spring, there are other cars you will be toying with - the Vauxhall Tigra, for example. That's sharper looking, also has a fine engine and is better built than you might think. But it only has two seats, and sales have suffered accordingly. The Micra has four, although, admittedly, the rears are titchy; you sit bolt upright as if waiting for the volts in an electric chair; and the leg room makes Ryanair feel like Club Class. But they'll suffice in an emergency (should Pervy Prescott spy a young filly he fancies, for instance).

Then there is the Peugeot 206 CC, but that was an abomination when it was launched, and it is now an ageing abomination. So the only issue would seem to be which C+C to go for. I'd counsel against the entry-level "Urbis" version, with its piddling 1.3-litre engine. I haven't driven it, but I suspect you can gauge its performance in terms of custard skin-pulling and, anyway, the 1.6 Sport is only £500 or so more and comes with air-conditioning as standard. Meanwhile, I tried the top of the range "Essenza" model which comes impressively stuffed with sat nav, alloy wheels and climate control.

So that seems to be the one to go for. But there's just one other problem: the basic Mini Cooper Convertible is, in fact, cheaper than the whizz-bang C+C Essenza. I know which I'd want, and I think I know which one you'd buy too. s

It's a classic: Allard Clipper

I've wracked my brains to come up with a classic alternative to the singular style and cheeky hubris of the C+C and this is the best I can do: the Allard Clipper. Admittedly it isn't a convertible like the Micra, but it had no windows and low-cut doors, which is near enough.

It was the brainchild of Sydney Allard who had the idea of creating a frugal yet "stylish" version of the bubble car. The wheezy little 8hp engine from a Villiers motorbike - not much more powerful than modern-day, sit-down lawn mowers - was expected to propel this plastic-bodied Noddy car with a potential payload of up to five people, seated three abreast on a bench seat with two in the "dickey" behind.

But the Clipper was not the sales success Allard envisaged. He made 20, of which - according to Giles Chapman's entertaining book, Cars That Time Forgot - only two survive.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
Arts and Entertainment
The White Sails Hospital and Spa is to be built in the new Tunisia Economic City.
architectureRussian billionaire designs boat-shaped hospital for new Dubai-style Tunisia Economic City
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Husain Abdullah returns an interception off Tom Brady for a touchdown
nflLeague has rules against 'sliding to ground on knees'
Life and Style
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Java Developer - web services, XML and API

    £330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...

    Maths Teacher

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...

    Primary teachers required for schools in Norwich

    £21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
    Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

    Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

    Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
    Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

    Education, education, education

    TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
    It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

    It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

    So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
    This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

    Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

    Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
    We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

    Inside the E15 'occupation'

    We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

    Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

    The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
    Witches: A history of misogyny

    Witches: A history of misogyny

    The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
    Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Meet the most powerful woman in US television

    Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
    'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

    Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style