Nissan Micra review
The fourth-generation Nissan Micra supermini gets more space, lower emissions and better economy
Having been on sale for around 30 years, the Nissan Micra is a veteran supermini that's built a solid and dependable reputation on its great reliability. The new Nissan Micra is aimed at the supermini class leaders, the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Polo. On paper, it appears to have the talent to compete as it's spacious and efficient.
Massively updated in 2010 and facelifted again in 2013 to keep in step with Nissan's design language, the latest Nissan Micra has a more sober look when compared to the previous-generation car.
Unfortunately, the smart looks are where the comparison with the Fiesta and Polo stops - the latest incarnation Nissan Micra lags massively behind its rivals, especially in terms of overall build quality. The Nissan Micra is now only available as a five-door hatchback (the old CC convertible was dropped with the previous generation car) and surprisingly, the only available engine is a 1.2-litre petrol unit with varying levels of power.
Every Nissan Micra can also be specced with the CVT automatic gearbox, and start/stop technology is also an option on more powerful models. The Nissan Micra comes in four trim levels: the entry-level Visia, the mid-range Acenta and Acenta Connect, plus the top-of-the-range Tekna.
Our choice: Micra 1.2 Acenta
The latest Nissan Micra has lost the idiosyncratic looks of the previous car and following the 2010 re-style, Nissan hoped the Micra would appeal to a more global market with its sober appearance. Still, the Nissan Micra is by no means ugly and it gets all-new front wings, a new bonnet, new headlights and a rear bumper to help create a cleaner look reminiscent of the larger Qashqai.
The Nissan Micra is available in four trim levels: the entry-level Visia, mid-range Acenta and Acenta Connect, as well as the range-topping Tekna. The Nissan Micra Visia misses out on alloy wheels, front fog lamps, and air-conditioning costs an extra £500 so it’s fairly basic.
However, it does get body coloured bumpers, USB connectivity and stability control. The mid-range Nissan Micra Acenta models get 15-inch alloy wheels, body coloured door handles and mirrors as well as chrome finishes in the interior, more safety features and auto headlamps.
The flagship Nissan Micra, the Tekna, adds a panoramic glass roof as well as the option of a styling package that adds a more aggressive bodykit, unique alloy wheels and a roof-mounted spoiler. The Nissan Micra Tekna gets a touchscreen interface with sat-nav, as well as Google technology that allows you to use your phone and access your music library.
The Acenta Connect model also benefits from the same features Nissan also makes the Micra Limited Edition, which has Limited Edition mats and an Audi A1 style two-tone roof. Build quality in the Nissan Micra has taken a turn for the worse since the 2013 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.
In spite of its flaws, the Nissan Micra is great as a city runabout as a result of its good visibility, light steering and responsive controls. It also benefits from a tight-turning circle, meaning navigating busy urban areas is a breeze.
The 1.2-litre petrol engines that power the Nissan Micra won't amaze you with their performance, but given the Micra's small dimensions, they tick all the right boxes. Unfortunately, at higher speeds the Nissan Micra's suspension doesn’t feel up to the job of dealing with rough roads, and it feels crashy and a little unsettled. The engine makes a racket in the cabin and there’s a lot of wind and road noise, too.
In our 2014 Driver Power survey, the Nissan Micra didn't feature in the top 150 cars, but in the previous survey, it managed to achieve a respectable 24th place - remarkable, given the obvious drop in build quality.
Nissan Micra owners also praised the car for its running costs, technology and reliability. Nissan, however, finished 22nd in the 2014 Driver Power manufacturers' rating - a pretty significant 10-place drop from 2013. The Nissan Micra also received a disappointing rating in the Euro NCAP crash test. It only managed four stars and this is a severe disadvantage in a class and an industry where five-star ratings are becoming the norm.
Happily, though, all Nissan Micra models get six airbags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control as standard safety kit.
Despite the Nissan Micra's tiny size, it's actually quite big inside as Nissan has been smart and positioned the wheels at the corners of the car.
Inside the Nissan Micra, there's enough room for relatively tall adults to sit in the back seats, and there's 265 litres of boot space, which is around what you'd expect from a supermini. You can fold down the rear seats to increase the capacity in the boot 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, the entry-level Nissan Micra Visia still has a bigger boot than the likes of the Mazda 2 or the Hyundai i20. There's also plenty of storage space in the cabin, including a huge, double-decker glovebox.
You'd want and expect a supermini to be cheap to run, and the Nissan Micra is exactly that. While it doesn't come with a diesel engine, the petrols aren't too heavy on the bank account.
The Nissan Micra gets a standard three-cylinder 79bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine that returns fuel economy of 56.5mpg and emits 115g/km of CO2. It doesn't feel excessively slow and it reaches 0-62mph in 13.7 seconds, meaning its decent for urban driving.
Those after a mix of performance and economy should opt for the slightly more powerful 97bhp DIG-S supercharged engine, which improves the Nissan Micra both in terms of efficiency and power, as it manages 65.7mpg on a combined cycle and emits 99g/km of CO2. The DIG-S engine can also be specced with stop/start technology.