Nissan Micra dCi 82 SX 5-door

These days there's a good case for choosing diesel over petrol, but is it worthwhile with superminis? When you consider the high price premium and the fact that small petrol hatches can be very frugal, it's no surprise many buyers are sceptical about the benefits of an oil-burner.

As one of our favourite superminis, Nissan's Micra has a lot to offer. This miserly new diesel version leaves the 64bhp model in its wake and boosts the line-up. Whether it's worth the price premium over the petrol model depends on the buyer, but we think the dCi 82 is the Micra to have.

These days there's a good case for choosing diesel over petrol, but is it worthwhile with superminis? When you consider the high price premium and the fact that small petrol hatches can be very frugal, it's no surprise many buyers are sceptical about the benefits of an oil-burner. However, Nissan hopes this uprated dCi Micra will offer enough torque to pull in potential punters - so we put it under the 'Micrascope' to find out...

To be sold alongside the existing 64bhp version, the new 82bhp edition of the 1.5-litre turbodiesel not only comes with more power and torque, but is also cheaper to run. This is possible because an intercooler has been fitted to make the unit more efficient.

The lower-powered edition returns an impressive 61.4mpg, but the newer model should achieve 62.3mpg. Ac-cording to the trip computer, our test car delivered around 53mpg in town, but we think it would easily achieve Nissan's figures on a more varied route.

The newcomer also has the better performance. With its healthy output and 185Nm of torque delivered at only 2,000rpm, the dCi 82 easily keeps up with busy city traffic. It lacks the rush or pulling power of a VW TDI unit, but rarely feels breathless.

Use all that muscle, and the sprint from 0-62mph takes 12.9 seconds - a great improvement on the epic 17 seconds of the 64bhp. As with most oil-burning Nissans, the Micra dCi is quiet and refined at speed, but can sound coarse under acceleration. Tur-bocharger whistle also penetrates the cabin along with too much wind noise, which becomes tiresome on long trips.

At £11,695, this SX five-door costs £1,400 more than the 64bhp SE five-door, but it's well worth it, and lower emissions and fuel bills will help to recoup the additional outlay. But would we go for a diesel Micra? Top-of-the- range petrols use a 1.4-litre 16v unit and cost £10,795 in SX trim, returning 44.8mpg. And while the oil-burner looks slower on paper, the extra torque makes the performance more accessible.

Even low-mileage drivers will save money on fuel, but whether this and the more usable performance are enough to justify the premium will depend on personal preference. But with its punch and superb economy, we'd find it hard to resist the dCi 82.

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