Review: Nissan Micra faces up to the competition

Nissan has given the latest Micra 'a makeover just three years into its lifespan

Nissan has given the latest Micra 'a makeover just three years into its lifespan

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THE Nissan Micra has been a stalwart of the supermini sector for more than 30 years now. When launched in 2010, the most recent Micra faced tougher competition than ever before, which is why Nissan has given the car a nip and tuck only three years into the latest version’s life.

It’s easy to spot the new model thanks to its reshaped bonnet, bumpers, lights and grille. There’s also a splash more of chrome to give the car a classier look, while new alloy wheel designs and a wider palette of colours to pick from gives Micra buyers more opportunity to personalise their cars.

To further hone the car to owners’ tastes, the Micra is also now offered with a range of different finishes for the door mirror covers, side sills, door handles, interior air vents and even the gear lever. Nissan says it has improved the quality of the Micra too, after being stung by criticism of the previous model. So, there are now new materials for the armrests and seats, with the top-spec Tekna models coming with a suede-like fabric for its upholstery.

The Tekna is well equipped and comes with automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and starting, NissanConnect and new Parking Slot Measurement (PSM). There’s even the option of a large panoramic glass sunroof.

Nissan’s PSM system searches parking spaces when activated as the car drives past. When it spots a space the Micra can fit into, it lets the driver know by a display on the dash. It can even be tailored to the driver’s skill level for parking, with settings for amateur, normal and expert. Vision out of the Micra is excellent and the car’s light steering makes it ideal for urban driving. It also enjoys a very compact turning circle, so tight city corners hold no fear for the Micra driver.

The Tekna’s standard NissanConnect satellite navigation system is improved and has a larger colour touchscreen to complement the new graphics used on the main dash display. An eco-routing option allows the driver to select the most fuel-efficient way to a destination, while Google Send-To-Car technology lets the driver plan a route on their computer at home and then send it to the car in advance of setting off.

The mid-range Acenta trim does not have this as standard, but it does come with air conditioning, Bluetooth connection and automatic lights and wipers. The entry-level Visia shares electric front windows, six airbags and ESP with the other models. All three trim levels can be ordered with either of Nissan’s 1.2-litre petrol engines. The 79bhp version features stop/start as standard to save fuel and returns an average of 56.5mpg with the five-speed manual gearbox. It can also be ordered with a continuously variable transmission that works like an automatic ’box and provides 52.3mpg and 0-62mph in 14.5 seconds compared to the manual’s 13.7 second time.

The other engine in the Micra line-up is the supercharged 97bhp 1.2 DIG-S that also features stop/start and five-speed manual or CVT gearboxes. As a manual, it delivers 68.9mpg combined economy and CO2 emissions of only 95g/km, where the 1.2’s best is 115g/km to match the DIG-S engine when coupled to the CVT gearbox.

The 1.2 DIG-S is the better engine for anyone who ventures further than the city limits. It offers decent acceleration, covering 0-62mph in 11.3 seconds, and its supercharger gives it a reasonable turn of speed for motorways and overtaking slower traffic. Road and wind noise suppression are not best in class, but the Micra does a sterling job of smoothing out crumbling tarmac.

At higher speeds, the Nissan is not as agile as a Ford Fiesta, but it deals with corners efficiently and demands little of its driver. This is what Nissan Micras have being doing since the car was launched more than three decades ago and the revised model carries on that no-nonsense, no hassle tradition.

VITAL STATS

CAR Nissan Micra 1.2 DIG-S Acenta

PRICE £11,700

PERFORMANCE Max speed 113mph; 0-60mph 11.3 secs

MPG (combined) 68.9mpg

CO2 EMISSIONS 95g/km

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