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Nissan Micra

Date: 06 March 2019   |   Author: Pete Tullin

Standard equipment:
Electric front windows, LED DLR, remote central locking, autonomous emergency braking, lane departure warning
Engines:
Petrol: 71hp 1.0, 90hp 1.0, 100hp 1.0, 117hp 1.0
Diesel: 90hp 1.5
Trims:
Visia, Visia+, Acenta, N-Sport, N-Connecta, Tekna
Transmissions:
Five and six-speed manual, CVT automatic

No doubt most of us will have fond memories of the Nissan Micra. 

That is because once upon a time it was the staple gruel of almost every driving school in Great Britain.

That said, it did look like something you would find parked outside a Teletubby's house, so the instant the L plates were ditched most folk made a beeline for something a bit easier on the eye. 

Thankfully, the need to give Nissan's baby a wide berth came to a spectacular end in 2016 when it was transformed from ugly duckling to catwalk stunner. 

Pepped-up powertrains

Wind the dial forward a couple of years and Nissan is introducing a new set of 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engines to complement the latest Micra's edgy styling.

We have driven a couple, including the top end 117hp turbocharged model, which will be offered with an N-Sport trim that includes slightly lowered suspension, steering tweaks and a few additional sporty styling enhancements. 

Trouble is, it also comes with a pretty heady sticker price, which places it within spitting distance of the rip-snorting Ford Fiesta ST. Thankfully, we have also driven the mid-range 100hp version, which is far more affordable - and also happens to be a bit of a corker.   

More Micra Live Event - Red Micra Xtronic - Dynamic Side 1

Although the turbocharged engine exhibits a bit of wobbly idle, as is typical of three-cylinder motors, and occasionally feels a little hesitant as it ramps up through the rev range, it is exceptionally quiet and extremely smooth, with only the merest hint of vibration transitioning through the pedals as the revs hit higher altitudes. 

It comes with a smooth-shifting five-speed manual gearbox as standard but it is also available with a CVT automatic, which will no doubt appeal to those who spend far too much time gummed up in rush hour traffic. 

It is actually a pretty trick device, with faux gearshifts engineered in to help negate the soaring revs and slippy drive connection that typifies most CVT gearboxes. As such, it works smoothly and efficiently, and is well suited to the engines punchy mid-range power delivery. 

Easy going

Of course, the best part about the Micra is that it remains a breeze to drive, thanks to its light, accurate steering and neatly weighted pedal efforts. 

Yes, the suspension is a tad firm, but this is rarely problematic. Things can feel a wee bit jittery at low speeds and some clunking can be sensed when traversing coarser surfaces, but body movements are generally well controlled, and overall the car changes direction faithfully and with quite some relish.

Things are pretty slick inside too, with a good mix of robust panels supplemented by a smattering of soft-touch materials. 

More Micra Live Event - Red M Icra Xtronic - Interior Details - Dashboard Copy

Less encouraging is the infotainment screen, which despite being upgraded to provide clearer definition - step up to Acenta trim and it will also link up with all the latest phone connectivity - is still on the small side and can be quite sluggish to react to prompts.

Tight at the back

Although the driving position is excellent and forward visibility is wide-ranging, the view out the back is less impressive, and getting your young 'uns in and out is something you will need to supervise. That is because the flush-fitting door handles, so beloved of designers and equally detested by ergonomists, are sited so high up the doors, there is no way small children will be able to reach them. 

Once in the back, that sloping roofline also takes its toll on headroom and the view out of the narrow side windows is far from panoramic. As for rear leg room, let's just say, as with every supermini, it is on the snug side. 

At 300 litres the boot is not exactly enormous, but that is 10 litres more than you get in a Fiesta. Although the rear seat base is fixed the backrests split and fold 60/40; so getting those spring bedding plants back from the garden centre shouldn't present too many problems.

Those inside will hopefully also be safe and sound, thanks to a host of electronic safety aids. Lane keep assist, which helps steer you back into your lane should you inadvertently start drifting, and autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, which automatically brings the Micra to a stop if it detects a likely collision, are both standard fit.

Nissan Micra IG-T 100 5-Speed manual Tekna 

P11D: £18,560

Residual value: 33.4%

Depreciation: £12,360

Fuel: £5,316

Service, maintenance and repair: £1,826

Cost per mile: 43.3p

Fuel consumption: 50.4mpg

CO2 (BIK band): 105g/km (22%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £68/£136

Boot space: 300 litres

Engine size/power: 997cc/100hp


Verdict


7/10
  • Quiet three-cylinder engine
  • Light and easy to drive
  • Impressive list of standard safety kit
  • Higher-power cars aren't cheap
  • Styling limits rear head and leg room
  • That same styling impacts on rear visibility

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