Nissan Micra review
The fourth-generation Nissan Micra supermini gets more space, lower emissions and better economy
The Nissan Micra is a veteran of the supermini class - it's been around for nearly three decades now, a feat that's helped by its solid reputation for great reliability. The Nissan Micra is designed to rival the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo and it's certainly got the goods to back it up - it's spacious, well equipped and efficient, too. The latest, fourth-generation version of the Nissan Micra was modified to target more of a global market, with Nissan toning down the looks slightly to appeal to the masses. Unfortunately, the Micra has taken a backwards step since this update, with overall build quality taking a massive hit. The latest Nissan Micra is only available as a five-door hatchback, with the three-door Nissan Micra and the convertible CC no longer in production. It comes in three trim levels: entry-level Visia, mid-range Acenta and top-of-the-range Tekna. Bear in mind, though, that Visia models are missing some essential equipment.
Our choice: Micra 1.2 Acenta
The Nissan Micra doesn't have the same quirky appeal that it used to - a 2010 update restyled the car to appeal to a more global market, making it look much more plain. Still, it's by no means unsightly, as the new Nissan Micra gets all-new front wings, a new bonnet, new headlights and a rear bumper to help create a more dynamic look. The Nissan Micra comes in three trim levels: entry-level Visia, mid-range Acenta and the range-topping Tekna. The Visia specification misses out on alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and air-conditioning costs an extra £500. However, it does get body coloured bumpers, USB connectivity and stability control. Pricier Acenta models get 15-inch alloy wheels, body coloured handles and mirrors as well as chrome finishes in the interior, more safety features and auto headlamps. Meanwhile top-spec Tekna adds a panoramic glass roof as well as the option of a styling package which adds a more aggressive bodykit, unique alloy wheels and a roof-mounted spoiler. Build quality has taken a turn for the worse since the facelift, with the interior now feeling cheap and full of hard plastics. Some of the trim even has sharp edges left over from the moulding process - the glovebox lid and the internal door handles are among the worst offenders.
The Nissan Micra makes a great city car thanks to good visibility, light steering and responsive controls. It's comfortable and easy to manoeuvre, but there is a lot of body roll and it really does lean to one side through the corners. On the plus side, its tight turning circle makes navigating busy urban streets an easy task. The Nissan Micra is currently available with two 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engines. These engines aren't going to amaze you in terms of performance, but they definitely tick all the boxes of a city car's requirements. The entry-level 79bhp engine doesn't feel too slow, reaching 0-62mph in 13.7 seconds, so it's good for urban driving. The newer 97bhp DIG-S supercharged engine, meanwhile, improves both in terms of efficiency and power. It manages 65.7mpg and returns a tax-free 99g/km of CO2.
Despite the obvious drop in build quality, the Nissan Micra managed to achieve a respectable 24th place in the 2013 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey's top 100 cars. Owners were particularly satisfied with running costs, technology and reliability - so you know it's at least good value for money. However, Nissan's new global approach has seemingly affected its overall ranking as a company, as Nissan recently fell out of the top 10 to finish 12th in the 2013 manufacturers ratings. The Nissan Micra also received a disappointing rating in the Euro NCAP crash test - it only managed four stars. This is a severe disadvantage in a class, and an industry, where five-star ratings are becoming the norm. Entry-level Visia does lack a large amount of safety equipment, but all models get six airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control.
You'd think that the compact dimensions of the Nissan Micra would impede interior space, but as the wheels are positioned at the corners of the car, there's actually quite a lot of room inside. There's enough room for relatively tall adults to sit in the back seats, while there's 265 litres of boot space which is what you'd expect from a supermini. You can fold down the rear seats to increase the boot space of the Nissan Micra to 1,132 litres, but only mid-range Acenta and top-spec Tekna versions come with split-folding seats. Having said that, entry-level Visia still has a bigger boot than the likes of the Mazda 2 or the Hyundai i20. There's plenty of storage space in the cabin, including a huge, double-decker glovebox.
As to be expected from a supermini, the Nissan Micra is relatively cheap to run. Granted, it doesn't come with the option of a diesel engine, but the petrols don't cost too much to run. There's a standard three-cylinder 1.2-litre petrol engine that returns fuel economy of 56.5mpg and emits 115g/km of CO2. Those after a mix of performance and economy should opt for the superior 1.2-litre DIG-S, which returns 68.9mpg and remits 95g/km of CO2, which means it's tax free. Both versions of the Nissan Micra fall into a low insurance group and servicing costs should be relatively low thanks to the number of parts knocking around.