Pros: Reinvented styling, improved drive, refinement
Cons: Rivals are more fun to drive, limited rear room
This is the Nissan Micra as you have never known it before, the sporty new fifth generation model which landed on Irish shores during the summer. Brandishing the tag line ‘no more nice car’, the Micra has been completely reinvented with sporty new looks, an updated engine range and technology upgrades galore, so it appears to have shaken off the bland reputation of its predecessor. Can the new Micra challenge supermini favourites such as the new Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, amongst others? We spent a week driving it on Irish roads to find out.
What is it like?
For the first time ever, the Micra is one of the sportiest looking cars in the supermini class so kudos must go to Nissan in this regard. The Micra's styling is sharper and more distinctive than before, which is likely to boost its appeal with younger drivers. It is only available with five doors, though the highly-placed rear door handles lend it a sleek three door-like side profile. Our test car has an optional Orange exterior pack, which adds an eye-catching orange detailing on the bumpers, sides, mirrors and wheels.
Inside, it's a similar story as the cabin has also been significantly overhauled with a fresh and modernistic design. The finish is pretty good with plenty of sturdy materials throughout and a neat centre console layout, while the optional contrasting colour schemes inside our test car are a nice touch and will appeal to fans of customisation. Higher specification models feature a seven-inch touch screen system which is quite easy to use, though it lacks the vibrancy of comparable infotainment in some of its newly-launched rivals.
The new Micra is longer and wider than before so there has been a notable increase in head and shoulder room, along with extra space to stow away items throughout the cabin. Passenger room up front is plentiful, although taller passengers will find headroom tight in the rear due to the sloping roof design. There is 300 litres of luggage room in the boot which is good, but smaller than the Kia Rio and Honda Jazz that we drove earlier this year.
The new Micra is available with various different petrol and diesel engines, but we drove what is likely to be the best seller here in Ireland, the sub one-litre turbocharged petrol engine with a power output of 88hp and 140Nm of torque. On paper it doesn't make for particularly exciting reading, however the 0.9 litre is a capable unit with responsive acceleration around town (0-100km/h takes 12 seconds) and smooth power delivery at higher motorway speeds.
Our test car has the standard five speed manual transmission which is an ideal match for this small petrol engine, but buyers can also opt for an automatic transmission at an extra cost. We found running costs to be reasonable during our time with the Micra, averaging 7 litres per 100 kilometres of driving in fuel economy, while annual motor tax is listed at €190. Those seeking stronger returns for longer distance driving should consider the diesel engines in the range.
While the new Micra is definitely more engaging to drive than before, it still can't match cars like the latest Ford Fiesta for driving thrills behind the wheel. The Micra is based on the same platform as the latest Renault Clio and has adopted technology from the Nissan Qashqai SUV, such as Active Ride which automatically applies the brakes over bumps for added stability. It packs a plethora of new safety features and technology, and it's definitely more refined than it used to be on bumpier road surfaces, if not quite as composed as the latest Volkswagen Polo.
The new Micra continues to be one of the most attractively-priced superminis on the market, with prices starting from €16,650 for the base specification XE model, which includes LED daytime running lights, air conditioning, front and rear Isofix mounts a host of safety technology including hill start assist and brake assist. Our test car is a range-topping SVE model, so it gets additional luxuries such as an upgraded BOSE sound system, rear parking camera and sensors, larger 17-inch alloy wheels, Nissan’s keyless iKey and lots more, but prices start at over €20,650 in this trim.
Carzone verdict: 4/5
The new Nissan Micra is ultimately a much more enticing package than its predecessor, with sporty new looks, improved space and better technology featured than ever before. The dull reputation of the old Micra has been well and truly cast away, so much so that the Micra is probably one of the most stylish cars on sale in the supermini class right now. We were impressed with how much more engaging it is to drive too, although it still falls short on the Ford Fiesta for driving thrills and ultimately lacks the refinement of the new Volkswagen Polo.
Test Car Details:
Model driven: Nissan Micra SVE with Orange Exterior Pack
Prices from: €16,650
Annual Road Tax: €190
Engine: 898cc turbocharged three-cylinder petrol
Top Speed: 175km/h
0-100km/h: 12.1 seconds
Transmission: Five-speed manual
Body style: Hatchback
Boot Space: 300 litres