Nissan Micra review
Fourth generation of top-selling Nissan Micra supermini gets more space, lower emissions and better economy
The Nissan Micra has been a firm fixture of the supermini sales charts for nearly three decades, thanks to its reputation for reliability. Competing with rivals including the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, the fourth-generation Micra is more spacious, better equipped and more efficient. However, it's not all good news. Some people think the looks have taken a backwards step, and now that the Micra is sold globally, build quality has certainly taken a hit.
Our choice: Micra 1.2 Acenta
Unfortunately, the latest Micra lacks the cheeky appeal of its predecessor. Nissan’s designers have attempted a more conservative approach, but the result is a car that features awkward detailing and ungainly proportions. Pricier Acenta models are given a visual lift thanks to the addition of 15-inch alloy wheels and a body colour finish for the door handles and mirrors. Range-topping Tekna trim adds a panoramic glass roof to these extras. Climb aboard and it’s immediately clear that the Nissan has been built down to a price. The plastics look and feel cheap, while some of the trim has sharp edges left over from the moulding process – the glovebox lid and internal door handles are the worst culprits. Further black marks are reserved for the dated looking dashboard and instruments, plus switchgear that feels fragile in operation.
With its compact exterior dimensions, decent visibility and light controls, the Micra is a prefect urban runaround. Escape the city limits and the Nissan’s shortcomings soon become apparent. There’s little feedback through the steering wheel, the ride is firm and the gearshift is slack and imprecise. The 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol engine is the only powerplant, and what it lacks in power it makes up for with a keen nature and characterful soundtrack.
A disappointing four-star Euro NCAP score means the Nissan trails many of its rivals in the safety stakes. At least you get four airbags, electronic stability control and Isofix anchor points for child seats. The Micra has earned a strong reputation for reliability, though, and Nissan finished in an impressive eleventh place in our 2011 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey.
An upright body and wheel-at-each-corner stance results in a surprising amount of cabin space. Two adults should be able to squeeze onto the rear bench, which has a split/fold facility on Acenta and Tekna models. There’s plenty of stowage space in the cabin, thanks in no small part to the large, double decker glovebox. Opening the tailgate reveals a decent 265-litre carrying capacity, which is more than you’ll get in a Mazda 2 or Hyundai i20.
As you’d expect from a supermini, the Micra shouldn’t cost a fortune to run. The 1.0-litre engine promises to return 56.5mpg at the pumps, while CO2 emissions of 115g/km mean tax bills should be small. Servicing costs should also be reasonable, while a group five insurance rating should mean low cost cover. Even the residuals are acceptable, with most models holding on to around 40 per cent of their value after three years' motoring. You get a decent haul of kit, too, with Tekna models getting sat-nav, climate control and parking sensors.