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Nissan Micra

It's cold, it's damp... but Nissan is doing its best to bring a dash of sun into the winter gloom - the cute little Micra C+C is here!

An interesting addition to the supermini coup�-cabrio fold, the Micra offers a clever glass roof and impressive build quality. Nissan has done a good job with the styling, too, while the airy cabin makes the C+C an attractive choice. Fuel economy of 42mpg and a competitive price tag also mean that it won't break the bank

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Peugeot started the folding hard-top supermini trend with its 206 CC, and Vauxhall joined the party with its Tigra. To see how the Nissan fares, we got behind the wheel on UK roads for the first time.

Viewed head-on, the cabrio looks just like its hatchback brother, but in profile and from behind, the changes necessary to house the folding metal and glass roof are obvious. As with the 206 CC, the Micra has an unusual cab-forward stance with a big rear deck.

From behind the wheel, the high seat position will leave tall drivers brushing against the glass panel of the two-piece roof. The pane makes the cabin light and airy, but even with the chair in its lowest setting you feel as if you're sitting on, rather than in, the car - and this isn't helped by the lack of reach adjustment on the steering wheel.

At least lowering the roof is easy. Simply press a button on the centre console and the hood automatically folds away in only 21 seconds. It can even be retracted at up to 3mph, adding to the system's versatility.

The cabin itself is carried over from the hatchback, which means the instruments and controls are clear and have a solid feel. However, glance over your shoulder and you'll see the back seats are mere token efforts. The Nissan is billed as a 2+2, but in reality the rear is for shopping bags only. Not that you're likely to need the extra space - the impressive 457-litre boot still holds 255 litres with the roof stowed.

On the move, the compliant suspension is set up for comfort, so the C+C rides well, although there is noticeable body roll through corners. The 108bhp engine, which is borrowed from the sporty Micra 160R, makes for refined motorway progress, but the cabriolet's extra strengthening adds 130kg, which blunts performance. Still, that additional weight does a good job of stiffening the topless model, while a clever damper arrangement minimises vibrations.

With the roof down, the cabin can be draughty at high speeds, so potential buyers might want to invest in the optional £176 wind deflector. Yet refine-ment is impressive nevertheless.

While the C+C may not be quite as stylish or fashionable as its rivals, it still deserves consideration by anyone looking to buy a supermini coup�-cabriolet. With an entry price of £13,150, generous equipment and Nissan's famed reli-ability, the hard-top Micra certainly has value and practicality in its favour.

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