Behind the wheel: Nissan Micra review

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The Micra has swapped a bulbous apperance for a new, clean look. Could this comeback kid nip its way into your heart?

nissan-micra

Nissan first launched the Micra way back in 1983. Forever being known as the bubble shaped, slightly awkward looking small hatchback it’s undergone a total transformation for its fifth iteration. In 2017 alone over 86,000 new Micras were sold throughout Europe Nissan. Does this mean that Nissan have a comeback kid on their hands?

Starting at £12,295 for the entry level Micra prices rise to £19,165 for a range topping Tekna trim fitted with a diesel engine.

Naturally the Micra has a 5 star EuroNCAP rating, with a 91% adult safety score and 79% for the child occupants. All Micras are fitted with Intelligent Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Recognition and Intelligent Lane Intervention. Six airbags also come as standard.

Its competition comes in the form of the Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208, DS3, Citroen C3, VW Polo, Skoda Fabia and the Toyota Yaris.

First impressions

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The round bulbous looks of the last generation have been removed entirely.

Modern angles and fresh styling lines are here to stay. The Micra is now longer, lower and wider than its predecessor and the whole package is far more in keeping with its hatchback counterparts.

Thanks to the extra 17cm in length and an 8cm increase in width there’s far more space up front,  but a sloping roofline makes rear seats are a little less comfortable.

Boot space is a healthy 300 litres, which isn’t far off the capacity of a Ford Focus. There’s a fairly deep lip you need to negotiate, which can be a pain with larger, heavier items.

Once inside there’s a trio of dash customisation packs to choose from. ‘Energy Orange’, ‘Power Blue’, or’ Invigorating Red’. Sadly the seven inch touchscreen is only standard from Acenta trim, anything below that makes do with an old-fashioned LCD radio.

Engine choice

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There are three engine choices in the Micra, a 0.9-litre three cylinder turbocharged petrol making 89 BHP, a 1.0 litre three cylinder non turbo which produces 72 BHP and a 1.5-litre diesel pushing out 89 BHP.

Currently all come with a five-speed manual gearbox, but an automatic CVT version is in the pipeline.

In terms of performance the nippiest is the 1.5 litre diesel, which will make the 0-62 sprint in 11.5 seconds. None of the Micras are particularly rapid however, with the 0.9 litre petrol achieving the same time as the non turbo model at 11.7 seconds

There have been rumours of a Micra NISMO on the horizon, most likely powered by the 1.6 litre DIG-T engine, performance would certainly be boosted if this makes it to showrooms.

Luckily you can spec the diesel with any trim level, while the 0.9 litre turbo is only available from Visia+.

Trim options

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The Micra comes in five trims, starting with Visia, moving to Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta with Tekna being the top level.

Most buyers opt for the middle of the range N-Connecta starting at £16,415, as this adds Sat-nav and a few creature comforts like climate control, folding door mirrors and a leather steering wheel.

If you’re not bothered about Sat Nav you’d be hard pressed to need anything more than Acenta trim. It’s fitted with 16” alloys, body coloured door handles/mirrors, cruise control and a nice 7” infotainment system which can mirror your phone – negating the need for built in sat nav.

nissan-micra

One of the main allures to Tekna trim is the inclusion of the Bose Personal Audio Pack, this can be optioned on lesser trim levels for £500. The system adds four Bose speakers, a further two in the driver’s headrest and a sound stage control interface in the infotainment.

How does the Nissan Micra drive?

nissan-micra

When driving around town, 89 BHP is all the power you really need, the 0.9-litre turbo picking up the pace with ease. Even at motorway speeds there’s enough oomph to keep up, the little Micra feeling far sprightlier than its 0-60 time.

The 0.9 litre does produce a slightly annoying whine. On longer journeys of continuous dual carriageways it can feel like you’re in a washing machine on an extended spin cycle. It happens in every gear and can only be remedied by turning on the stereo.

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Ride is pretty firm, but the larger 17-inch alloys on the Tekna probably don’t help. The smaller 16-inch wheels will soak up lumps and bumps far better.

Throwing the Micra around some twisty B roads is a lot of fun, it stays upright in the corners and as long as you keep the revs up an amusing time can be had. This is partly helped by the clever features borrowed from the Qashqai; they include Active Trace Control and Active Ride Control to stop undulations and brake the inside wheel when cornering.

Nissan Micra: the verdict

nissan-micra

If you’re looking for something a bit different in terms of looks, a small hatch that’s fresh and modern, the Micra is worth a look.

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