What are you driving?
A striking-looking supermini, the new Nissan Micra. Not a description that would be applicable to any of the previous generations of the venerable small Nissan, but the Japanese firm has really turned a corner with this iteration. Gone is the misshapen, misfortunate, messy look that was the old car's downfall, replaced with a dramatically-styled exterior. As our own Mr. Briscoe alluded to on the international launch, it runs the risk of looking a little fussy and try-hard from certain angles, though it's still a gargantuan improvement. Here's a Micra that you might actually want to be seen in. Want proof? A generally reasonable, balanced and normal friend (with a passing interest in cars) has proudly stated that his next steer will be a new Micra. Didn't see that one coming...
The interior isn't quite as daring, though it is well-equipped and solidly screwed together. The SV trim level brings a seven-inch central screen, while Nissan Connect is standard on SV Premium and SVE. You'll spot that certain components have been borrowed from the Micra's bigger siblings, but overall, it's a good place to be for the front occupants at the very least. Space is a tad tight in the rear (especially in the head department), thanks in part to the generously-sized 300-litre boot. The Safety Pack is optional on all levels other than SVE, and comprises emergency braking and lane assist functions among others.
Name its best bits
Without wishing to bang on and on about the obvious, the styling really is quite appealing. Nissan clearly recognised that the old car's paltry sales figures needed drastic action to counteract, and the company must be commended for making such a quantum leap. There has been lots of chassis improvements too; while the Micra stops rather short of being a sporty drive, it feels nicely composed and stable in a way that its ancestors never did. You get the sensation that the big circular thing in front of you is actually connected to the front wheels, which is always nice.
Anything that bugs you?
Performance from the naturally-aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine can be best described as 'unrushed'. While it's fine around town, on open roads it is too sluggish to be viable for regular long-distance use. You have to rev it to move the car along at anything approaching a decent lick, with obvious drawbacks for fuel economy. Paired with a gearshift action that's long of throw and evocative of times past in its wooliness, it wouldn't be our first choice of powerplant. The Renault-sourced 0.9-litre turbocharged petrol, or the 1.5-litre diesel are the ones to pick if you spend a lot of time on the open road.
And why have you given it this rating?
Everything about the Micra has been improved to such a degree that it's hard to not to award it at least four stars. Nissan's stated aim of tackling the likes of the Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta meant that the car had to be worlds better than the outgoing model, and it emphatically is. It will be interesting to see the sales figures in a year or so, especially with the glut of recently-launched and forthcoming cars in this crowded class. Whatever way the figures will read, the Micra deserves to do well.
I want to know more
With the marked improvement in quality comes an increase in price, so the Micra range now starts at €16,650 and tops out at €22,650 for the diesel-engined SVE. Our car came in at €17,450, and with PCP finance can be on your driveway for €166.35 per month with a 30 per cent deposit and a GMFV of €6,980.
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the Nissan Micra that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.