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Nissan Figaro

By raccars Published

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The short lived Figaro is something of an oddity. At first glance, it could pass as a very well restored classic. But it is, in fact, less than 20 years old, designed to fit in with Japan's classic car craze of the Nineties.

Based upon the Micra, the Figaro's styling owed much to former Nissan classics such as the Fairlady and could be specified in four very feminine pastel colours. Full of comfort and convenience features, the Figaro sold well. The production run ended after 20,000 units and interested parties were obliged to take part in a lottery to be able to buy one, such was the demand. A number of UK versions are grey imports from Japan.

Available in a two door convertible format, the Figaro is determinedly retro looking rather than modern, with a retro influence in the style of the Mini or the Fiat 500. It has developed quite a large celebrity fanbase, with owners including footballer, Thomas Vermaelen, rock star, Eric Clapton, opo singer, Mollie King and Britain's Princess Eugenie.

8,000 models were initially planned but Nissan was obliged to put on another 12,000 to satisfy demand. This gives the Figaro some exclusivity today. Unfortunately, most fans will be buying the Figaro for its looks rather than performance, which is rather staid. It's powered by a willing enough 987cc turbocharged petrol engine, which is unfortunately, hampered by an equally unwilling three speed automatic gearbox.

Vital statistics include a top speed of 100mph and 10.7 seconds to reach 60mph. Fuel economy is surprisingly good at 45mpg.

Buyers will have to look out for rust and be very careful of any car's history - with so many Japanese imports it can be quite difficult to interpret the paperwork. It's also making sure you have access to a mechanic who will deal with one of these - there is an active and enthusiastic Figaro owners' community, which should be able to help you. While the car is fairly rare, it shares a number of components with the Micra, so spares are relatively cheap and easy to come by.

Of the four original colours, a beige called Topaz Mist was the least popular at the time. Only 10% of the total output came in this colourway and this rarity has made it the most sought after colour today. A number of aftermarket colours are out there, particularly pink, black and lemon yellow - expect to pay less for one of these.

Essentially, the user friendly Figaro has the style but none of the associated problems of old car ownership.

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