Bargain Hunter: Car of the week

Although one of the cheapest ways to acquire an utterly reliable, well-equipped, air-conditioned, high-quality car is to buy an unofficial "grey" Japanese import, there are other alternatives closer to home.

The grey importers may be fine for exotic off-roaders and unusual supercars, but few bother with "shopping trolleys" such as the Nissan Micra.

The Micra is called the March in Japan, but the ones made over here in Sunderland are every bit as good when it comes to build quality. The main dealer Glyn Hopkin (01708 73799) has some S-registered (late '98) Micra 1.0 litre five-doors with delivery miles and comprehensive oriental specifications, which include air-conditioning. At pounds 6,988, the saving is pounds 2,000 on new.

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