A stylish supermini from Nissan isn’t something we’ve been able to say for a long time. But now in its fifth-generation, Nissan aims to move away from the pensioner image it has been associated with for some time with a sleek-looking design and cheap to run engines.
Micra sales struggled with the fourth-generation car, which was a let down for the brand. With Nissan clearly focusing on the Qashqai and Juke, you got the impression the Micra was put to the back of its mind. While there are still issues, it is a big step forward, and now has efficient engines and is attractively priced - key factors at this lower end, albeit still incredibly important, sector of the car market
Three engines are offered in the Micra – 1.0-litre petrol with 70bhp, a 0.9-litre turbo petrol (IG T) with 89bhp and a 1.5-litre DCI, also with 89bhp.
The naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol is really best avoided, unless it is being bought for cheap insurance purposes. It has a top speed of just 98mph and takes an incredibly slow 16.2 seconds to get from 0-60mph.
The IG T, 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol engine was the car we tested, which was punchy – if not fast. The engine is capable of taking the Micra to a top speed of 109mph and completes the 0-60mph dash in 11.9 seconds. In real life it does actually feel quicker than these figures would suggest, although the power delivery didn’t seem to be particularly smooth.
The 1.5 litre DCI diesel has a top speed of 111mph and can go from 0-60mph in 10.7 seconds.
Ride and handling
With the new Micra we were hoping for a much improved drive compared to the old version - unfortunately we weren’t overly impressed with the new car.
The ride didn’t seem particularly composed on uneven road surfaces, with a noticeable amount of shudder making its way into the cabin. While the 17-inch wheels looked great on our test car, it was at the expense of road noise, with tyre roar being quite excessive at motorway speeds.
The five-speed manual gearbox also seemed particularly vague, as it seems to have oddly long shift throws for a car that only has 90bhp. The power delivery from our 0.9-litre test car also didn’t seem particularly linear, as up to 2,500rpm there seemed to be very little shove, and then after that you got an odd surge of power as the engine’s 150Nm of torque became available. While you couldn’t say that it ruined the driving experience, it was a bit of an annoyance and made smooth driving more difficult than it should have been.
Interior and equipment
The interior of the Micra is definitely one of its strongest points. It is a typical Nissan cabin, being well made and easy to use. Personalisation and a range of two-tone colour options for the dash and seat upholstery do help to lift the interior, although there are a few too many scratchy and cheap interior surfaces.
Standard equipment on the Micra includes LED daytime headlights, front fog lights, automatic headlights, high-beam assist, lane-departure warning and intelligent lane intervention.
Front interior space is excellent, however rear space is a bit tight, with limited head and legroom. Despite this, the Micra’s boot space is impressive - its 300-litres of space compares well to the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, which have 292 litres and 280 litres respectively.
The Micra starts at an exceptionally reasonable £11,995, which is good value for the kit on offer and the Micra’s stylish design. Compared to the Ford Fiesta - that starts at £12,715 - it is good value.
All Micras are good on fuel, although one thing that does need to be noted is that you need to be wary about the wheel size as that can affect fuel economy and emissions.
Our 0.9-litre turbo petrol test car (with 17-inch wheels) managed 61.4mpg on a combined cycle, but if it had the smaller 15- or 16-inch wheels it could achieve 64.2mpg. As for emissions, it produces 99g/km or 104g/km of CO2 dependant on wheel size.
The Micra is a stylish, attractively priced and well-built supermini that provides you plenty of tech for your money. However, it is far from perfect because it is let down by limited rear space and a particularly disappointing driving experience.
In such a competitive market, rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo are worthy of that extra spend over the Micra.