Video review: Nissan Micra
The new Nissan Micra redefines perceptions. From the updated look and sporty handling to exceptional refinement and strong residuals, it is, frankly, superb.
Generic, frumpy, unadventurous. All words that have been used to describe the Nissan Micra in the past, a ‘world car’ built in India that entirely failed to set pulses racing in Europe but found its niche on the road eventually.
The new Micra, designed in Europe for a European audience, might just change all that and when it was revealed at the Paris Motor Show last year our jaws dropped.
Longer, lower and wider than ever before, it carries a sporting stance but does so without interfering with the practicalities that motorists require from a Micra. There are sharp angles at the front creating an almost aggressive stance, with curvy lines flowing the length of the body which add a lot of character.
Comfortable and supportive seats combine with the adjustable steering wheel to create an excellent driving position.
Step inside and the Micra has grown up there too. Gone is the cheap plastic dashboard, replaced by a heavily contoured swath covered in leather or fabric depending on spec. Clear dials sit ahead in a sensible layout, while these top-spec models come fitted with a sizeable touchscreen infotainment unit in the centre console. It looks, surprisingly, quite fantastic.
Spec levels start off a little stingy, with the entry level model not even finding air-conditioning fitted, but by the time you get to the more premium models you’ll find all sorts of tech - that includes a Bose stereo with headrest mounted speakers which provide a depth of sound unheard of in a small car.
That’s part of a wider personalisation programme, with ten body colours, three interior trim choices, and three styling packs in four colours allowing you to create around 120 combinations on top of the five trim levels and three engine options.
Sitting relatively low down, and behind that steeply raked windscreen, it feels almost sporty. That impression isn’t lost once you’re on the move.
Nissan has got the basics right too, with comfortable and supportive seats combining with the adjustable steering wheel to create an excellent driving position, while the quality of all the switchgear is far better than you have any right to expect when you consider that this is a Micra.
There’s not much space in the back, and the swooping window line makes it feel a little more claustrophobic, but everywhere else it’s more than acceptable. The boot, a sizeable 300 litres, will handle your biggest weekly shop although there’s a tall lip to haul things over. And while my test car came with a tyre inflation kit, there is space under the boot floor for a proper spare wheel.
It’s some way short of a hot hatch, but it’s engaging and pleasing enough that most drivers will be happy.
Safety kit is notable by its presence, with autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian impact detection, lane keeping assist, 360-degree cameras and more all fitted or available as extras. These ensure you stay on the road, where you’ll find the Micra presents something of a revelation...
It’s really good to drive.
Sitting relatively low down, and behind that steeply raked windscreen, it feels almost sporty. That impression isn’t lost once you’re on the move, with this test car powered by a 1.5-litre diesel engine that provided more than enough low-down grunt to get things moving. The de riguer 0-62mph sprint is despatched in a leisurely 11.9 seconds, but there’s more mid-range punch than that figure suggests.
Despite being a diesel engine in a small car, it’s surprisingly quiet and refined. Actually, change that to exceptionally refined - even when stationary you could be forgiven for not picking up on the fact that it is diesel powered.
Nissan has created a bit of a game-changer.
The steering is well weighted and balances the need for lightness around the city with something a bit heftier at speed. It’s short of being a hot hatch, but it’s engaging and pleasing enough that most leasees will be happy to feel they can press on a little harder.
Drive parsimoniously and there’s a promised 80.7mpg in return, while CO2 emission are low at 92g/km. That translates to a car tax bill of absolutely nothing per year for now, or £140 from April, and a BIK burden of 18%. The entry level model will start at £11,995 rising to £18,645, but predicted strong residual values should keep leasing costs low.
There’s a couple of petrol options available too, with a low power 1.0-litre engine and a more powerful turbocharged 0.9-litre option, but we’ve yet to drive those. There’s also the prospect of a hybrid in the future.
Nissan has created a bit of a game-changer in its own world. It’s not transformed the entire supermini segment, but the new Micra is so far removed from the old one that there was some debate as to whether it should keep the same name. Apparently rebuilding perceptions of one model is quicker and cheaper than building recognition of a new model, but the fact it was debated says a lot about the new car.
It is, frankly, superb.
Model tested: Nissan Micra Tekna dCi 90ps
|Official fuel economy:||80.7mpg|
|Car tax band:||A / £0|
|Luggage space:||300 litres|
Average lease rate for tested model:
Personal lease rate: £227*
Business lease rate: £189*
*Average monthly lease rates calculated using ContractHireAndLeasing.com data and based on typical 6 + 35 10k deals. Correct at time of writing.