Nissan Micra

Nissan launches its all-new Micra in 160 countries across the world, but what do we make of it in this one?

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3.0 out of 5

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This new Micra is a step forward from the previous-generation car in some ways – it’s bigger and offers better value for money. However, it seems like a jump backwards in its bland exterior design and cheap-feeling cabin. Selling the same model worldwide has enabled Nissan to produce it with a lower price tag, but it’s not quite cheap enough to draw buyers away from other more stylish and exciting rivals.

It’s sold in more than 160 countries worldwide, but this is the first time we’ve managed to get our hands on Nissan’s new Micra in the UK. Does the firm have a hit on its hands? We took to the road to find out.

It’s worth noting that not all Micras available around the globe are the same. For instance, models in Thailand – which are badged March – do without the front and rear anti-roll bars fitted to UK ones. Our cars also get retuned suspension and softer-compound tyres to improve the ride.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Micra

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Inside, though, the scratchy plastics and dull design fall short of competitors, even if the back seats and 265-litre boot are spacious. And, unlike the model’s predecessor, and rivals such as the Suzuki Swift, it doesn’t stand out.

On the move, the steering lacks feedback, but the new anti-roll bars keep the body in check through corners. And while the tweaked suspension is quite stiff, the car doesn’t crash over large imperfections in the road, making for a comfortable ride.

In fact, for a supermini the drive is surprisingly relaxing, and unless you’re really pushing the small three-cylinder engine, it’s also quite refined.

Admittedly, this is no hot hatch: with only 78bhp, it manages the 0-62mph sprint in a leisurely 13.7 seconds. Things begin to make more sense in town traffic, though, where the light steering and class-leading turning circle make city driving a breeze. Even the motor feels a bit nippier.

A five-speed manual gearbox comes as standard, and we would recommend that you stick with this, as the CVT automatic saps power and adds a further 0.8 seconds to the 0-62mph time.

It also worsens fuel economy, with the combined figures standing at 52.3mpg for the automatic and 56mpg for the manual. It’s a similar story with CO2 emissions, which rise from 115g/km in the latter to 125g/km in the auto.

Our car came in Acenta specification: for a £10,850 price tag, this boasts generous equipment, with big-car features such as cruise and climate control. As the Micra stands, though, there are better superminisout there.

However, a 98bhp supercharged model is due later in 2011, which qualifies for free road tax and is exempt from the congestion charge. It’s also far quicker than this model, and could be the dose of excitement the Micra needs.

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