Nissan Micra review
New turbocharged engines give the stylish and safety-conscious Micra a much needed boost
The Nissan Micra has built a reputation over many years for affordability, reliability and ease of ownership, but rarely has this perennially popular supermini been accused of being stylish.
That all changed with the arrival of the fifth generation Micra which was unveiled at the 2016 Paris Motor show. The French fashion capital was a fitting location for the debut of a model that had cast off its dowdy old clothes to take centre stage on the catwalk with a highly fashionable new look.
While it retains much of the previous model’s engineering under the skin, the latest Micra also benefits from a new 1.0-litre turbocharged engine that gave Nissan’s supermini the technical leg-up it needed to compete with the best in its class. Coupled with an array of safety kit and a decently engaging drive, in 2017 we recommended the Micra as one of the supermini best buys.
Since then, the Nissan Micra has slipped down the rankings slightly as rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo fought back. The Fiesta is more fun to drive, and the Polo has a more upmarket interior, but the Micra is still a satisfying proposition – especially as it retains the original values that have underpinned the car’s appeal across previous generations.
A favourite with driving schools and new drivers across the UK, the Nissan Micra has been a staple of the supermini class since 1983. The first and second generations served up Japanese reliability on a plate, with a decent price to boot. The Micra Mk3 added rounded styling to the mix that added to the car's charms, but the Mk4 was a more restrained design in comparison. One common thread between all of these models is their lack of driving fun, but the Micra has always been a safe choice.
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While the looks are sharper, the new Micra gets the last car's running gear under the skin. However, it has been completely updated to make sure the car is competitive, and includes some cutting-edge electronic tech taken from other Nissan models, like the Qashqai. As before, the Micra is five-door only, although Nissan has put the rear door handles in the window frames to give the car a sportier look.
The Micra has been updated to feature a new 1.0-litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine, which replaces the old 0.9-litre unit, while a CVT automatic transmission has also been added. The new turbocharged 1.0-litre develops two outputs - 99bhp and 115bhp. The 115bhp car gets bespoke chassis revisions and a new six-speed manual gearbox.
Nissan has simplified its line-up, with four trim levels now on offer. The flagship is Tekna, then there's the racy looking N-Sport, followed by Acenta and Visia+. All cars get Bluetooth as standard, as well as automatic emergency braking and a lane departure warning system. Air-con and stop-start tech feature on Visia+ cars, while alloy wheels, smartphone connectivity and a seven-inch touchscreen make an appearance on the mid-range Acenta and above.
Move up to N-Sport and you benefit from Alcantara seats, a rear-view camera and parking sensors, a carbon-look exterior pack, a front armrest and 17-inch alloy wheels. The Tekna trim level includes a Bose audio system, NissanConnect navigation and leather-wrapped gear knob and handbrake.
If you’re in the market for a new supermini you shouldn’t discount the Nissan Micra, but then there are a number of hugely talented rivals on offer, many of which have been newly introduced or updated relatively recently. Chief among these is the latest Ford Fiesta, while the SEAT Ibiza and Skoda Fabia are both strong rivals. The Volkswagen Polo has also been replaced and is a great car, while the Citroen C3 adds some youthful style to the mix.
The Peugeot 208 is the upmarket sister car to the C3, while the outgoing Renault Clio shares its platform with the Micra. Elsewhere, other Far Eastern rivals include the Toyota Yaris, Mazda 2, Hyundai i20, Kia Rio, Suzuki Swift and Honda Jazz, while the Vauxhall Corsa is another staple of the class that shouldn't be ruled out.