Getting so much better all the time
With the runaway success of the both the Qashqai & Juke, the question I have been asking myself is, why has it taken Nissan so long to produce a decent Micra ? When I first drove the MIcra back in th late 1980’s it was cheap, cheerful & King of the driving schools. It was though, in no way stylish. Neither was the next one, or the next one or the next one. In fact it has taken Nissan five goes to get to the latest model, which arrived at CC&V for us to review in mid-July.
In a sector that contains the Fiesta, just updated, Polo, new one due in early 2018, new SEAT Ibiza, as well as the KIA Rio, Hyundai i20, Toyota Yaris, Renault Clio, SKODA Fabia & Peugeot 208, having a competitive model has never been more important.
The Micra launched with two engine options: a 0.9-litre turbo petrol, fitted to my teat car & a 1.5-litre diesel, both driven by a a five-speed manual gearbox. There are five trim levels: Visia, Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta & the range-topping Tekna. All cars get Bluetooth, auto emergency braking & a lane departure warning system. Move up to Visia+ & you get air-con & StopStart, Acenta adds alloy wheels, smartphone connectivity & a seven-inch touchscreen. N-Connecta comes in addition to al of this with fog lamps, & an updraede infotainment system, whilst top of the range Tekna has 17” alloys, a rear view camera & a Bose audio system.
Small cars need to look good & from the outside the Micra is a massive improvement on the previous model. It features at the front sweeping front headlights with a large front grille & Nissan logo. The side feature neat diagonal folds which taper into the rear light clusters & as it’s only available as a five-door, the rear door handles have been hidden behind the C-pillar & are high up for a more streamlined finish. My test model was the N-Connecta 0.9 IG-T 90, which was fitted with the Exterior Pack Plus, which featured 17” Persol Blue alloys, matching blue wing mirror covers, blue side strips & front & lower front strips in blue as well, an optional extra to make the exterior look sharper, which is an additional £800. Rear spoiler & rear privacy glass finish the look of the Micra nicely.
The interior has changed beyond recognition too & it’s now one of the nicest small car cabins to be in. The new Micra’s cabin is right up to date & Nissan are offering plenty of customisation options. My test car was fitted with the optional contrasting colours scheme, in my case blue & black, which looks really smart. All materials used are of good quality, with the contrasting blue dashboard finish being soft to the touch & almost fabric-like. The speedo & rev dials sit in front of the driver within an oval binnacle & all of the controls are chunky, logically situated & easy to reach.
The NissanConnect touchscreen sits in the centre of the dashboard & this gives you access to DAB radio, SatNav, smartphone apps & Apple Car Play.There’s a USB & Aux in connection front of the gear stick & the StopStart button is also located here. There’s a 10-litre glovebox designed to fit a two-litre drinks bottle, whilst you can get 1.5-litre bottles in the door bins. There’s also storage in the centre console ahead of the gearstick, where I put my keys as well as two more drinks holder’s behind the handbrake. Steering-wheel controls allow you to use the Bluetooth function hands-free, check your vehicles data & info, as well as set up cruise control & access the radio, your phone, media or apps such as Spotify.
Space up front is satisfactory with good head & leg room. In the rear the sloping roof will make it harder to sit in the back if you’re over six foot tall. Similarly, if the front passengers are tall leg room is tight as well, but it’s certainly not bad. In fact the new Micra is both longer, 3.99m, as well as wider 1.74m than before.This gives you a decent 300 litres & a user-friendly boot space as the Micra’s boot has been specifically designed to accommodate larger suitcase, more easily than other B segment modes. Fold down the 60:40 split rear seats & the load space goes up to 1,004 litres. A boot in a small car that takes larger suitcases side buy side, is something the Walker family would appreciate. We’ll look to see if the new Micra is available next time we hire a car from an airport in Europe.
My test car’s 0.9 litre petrol engine came with 90PS & 140Nm of torque. On the move you need to push the accelerator hard to achieve any performance, as the 0-62 mph time is 12.1 seconds. Maximum speed is 109mph. Acceleration though, is not the main reason you’d buy a Micra. It has other more relevant attributes. The small engine offers a low insurance rating of 1E for the entry level Visia & fuel economy is an attractive 64.2mpg on the combined cycle. Emissions are also friendly, 104g/km & with the clever Nissan design, you get a proper four seater, with five adults accommodated if required.
On top of this, the high safety features offered across the range also makes the new model attractive.There’s Isofix child seat fixings, six airbags, ABS, stability control, front & rear seat belt warnings, lane keeping assist, automatic emergency braking, pedestrian recognition, road sign recognition, high beam assist, Intelligent Trace Control & Intelligent Ride Control across the range. The N-Connecta also features lane departure warning.
I spent 7 days in the Micra & as the week progressed I liked it more & more. Driving alone, the car feels punchier than the official figures would suggest. Fully loaded with four adults & a dog, it’s a bit less enjoyable & for example, is a little slow to get up to speed on the motorway. Once at motorway speeds it will sit quite happily alongside fast moving traffic, especially if cruise control is selected. An added bonus is that the cabin is quiet. I didn’t notice any road or wind noise on the motorway when utilising hands-free Bluetooth & I didn’t have to shout to hold a conversation. All in all, the Micra left a good impression on me.
There are some negatives. Despite the clamour for petrol over diesel, even small petrol engines like that fitted to my test car, cannot match the fuel economy of small diesels, as I proved in my week in the Micra, averaging 39.5mpg. I’d expect at leat 10mpg more from a diesel. My daughter, who sat in the rear, pointed out the lack of rear passenger storage; there’s no rear door storage & only the back of the passenger seat has a seat pocket on it. There also isn’t a USB connection that you can reach if you’re sat in the back & with older children this won’t be popular. There aren’t any rear grab handles either. The Micra is offered with an industry-standard three-year warranty. The Hyundai i20 has a five-year warranty & the Kia Rio comes with with seven years. But in the big scale of things, I don’t think that these are going to be game changers.
Five Micra’s in & Nissan have finally produced a really good all-rounder. Good looks sell small cars & the new MIcra excels in this department. Customers also want a wide choice of personalisation options & this Micra ticks that box too. The interior is technology-friendly & will therefore appeal to Generation Y. It offers good cabin space & a useful sized boot & finally, it’s competitively priced, with my test car sitting second from top in the range at £15,995 OTR, with the entry level Visia starting at £11,995.
In what is a ridiculously competitive sector, the Micra can at last compete with the best in class, something it hasn’t been able to do since the mid-1980’s. The B segment though won’t stand still. SEAT have just launched a new Ibiza, Ford a new Fiesta & Volkswagen’s larger Polo will hit our shores in late 2017/early 2018. For the time being though, the fifth-generation Micra gives Nissan another cross to it’s bow.
A top-five performance 3.75/5.