Nissan Micra

Efficient small supermini that won't break the bank

5.5
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 23 reviews
  • Cheap
  • Great supercharged engine
  • Easy to drive
  • Boring
  • Poor quality interior
  • Not enjoyable to drive
 

£7,995 - £13,455 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

52 - 56 MPG

Review

The Nissan Micra is a compact city car that has low running cost and a reputation for durability. Its closest rivals are the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Mazda 2.

Prices start from £7,995 and if you buy your Micra using carwow you can save £1,470 on average.

The Micra’s interior may look premium at a glance but in reality the materials are low-cost and the finish is below the class standard. Reviewers were disappointed that the Micra offers many technologically advanced features, but feels really cheap inside. There’s more passenger space than the old model, though and the boot capacity is on par with rivals.

The old model was decent if not exceptional to drive, but this new “global car” tries to be a jack of all trades but ends up master of none. The body leans in corners, the grip is poor and the steering vague. The car is manoeuvrable in town, but excessive noise in the cabin lets it down on the motorway.

There is no diesel engine option, but the two petrols on offer do the job just fine and are cheap to run, too. Pick the lower-power one if you rarely go out of town or the supercharged one for added performance. The manual gearbox is the recommended choice, because the automatic makes the car slower and use more fuel.

Basic models are indeed basic in their equipment – you get electric front windows, stability control, Bluetooth phone connection and body coloured bumpers. That last one may seem laughable, but bear in mind that the basic Dacia Sandero doesn’t come with body coloured bumpers.

An all new model has been spotted testing in prototype form – take a look at the new Nissan Micra by reading our price, specs and release date article.

Cheapest to buy: 1.2-litre Visia petrol

Cheapest to run: 1.2-litre N-Tec petrol

Fastest model: 1.2-litre DiG-S Tekna petrol

Most popular: 1.2-litre Visia petrol

While the Micra’s interior looks nice, the same can’t be said for the quality of some of the less visible materials. There is plenty of technology, but the cheap plastics let it down. Nissan’s facelift has seen some subtle interior improvements though, and Tekna models get a nice suede-like finish to the seats.

Nissan Micra passenger space

The good news is that space has improved over the previous Micra. The old Micra was never too bad, but the new one is even easier to live with up front. Room in the back seat is also improved and now two fairly tall adults can sit there with plenty of headroom. 

Nissan Micra boot space

As for rear space, the Micra is best described as average with a 265-litre boot that can be increased to 1,132 litres if you fold down the rear bench. On any other model than the basic you get a 60:40 split folding rear seat.

The old Micra was still a tidy handler right up until replacement. The current one has been designed for a global – mainly developing world – market and then re-tuned for European tastes.

It does its best work around town. The light steering, high glass-to-bodywork ratio, small turning circle and soft suspension means it copes well with the daily grind and supermarket duties.

Get it out onto the open road though and the Micra is asked more questions than it can answer. There’s lots of body roll and the steering is too vague for a bit of light entertainment down a twisty road, while getting up to speed on a motorway is slow to put it mildly. Heavy road and wind noise don’t help the Micra’s case either. 

There are two engines available in the Micra and they’re both 1.2 litre three cylinders. Despite the lack of a diesel, the petrols are decently frugal and cheap to run. 

The entry-level model is a regular 79hp unit that’s reasonably smooth and fun to rev, even if it gets a little noisy in the process. It offers 115g/km and 56.5mpg combined (5% worse with the CVT automatic gearbox) and should be just enough for urban driving, but on the motorway it’s small capacity starts to become quite noticeable.

Alternatively you can have a supercharged version of the same engine, which produces more power but better fuel economy. This unconventional type of engine is dubbed “Miller Cycle” and has only seen production once before, 20 years ago at Mazda and it’s a first on an engine this small. The net result is 97hp and 68.9mpg – up to 78mpg on the extra-urban run – equating to 95g/km CO2 and free road tax. It comes at a £1,750 premium but is a remarkable engine in a completely unexpected application.

The reviews for the new Nissan Micra 1.2 are not positive. The experts are generally not impressed with the car, but they do say that this 1.2 Petrol engine is quite good. It's smooth, easy to drive and not underpowered. Even on the motorway it performs well. The automatic gearbox, called 'CVT' is apparently very noisy so unless you have to go for it get the manual instead.

Just make sure you don't want the even more economical 1.2 DIG-S engine, which costs a bit more to buy but gets even better reviews.

The Nissan Micra DiG-S reviews generally come to the same conclusion, that this is a decent engine in a poor car.

The 1.2 DIG-S engine gives impressively low running costs and reportedly doesn't feel too underpowered despite its small size. It's fairly quiet, has stop-start and is ok for motorway driving.

The CVT (automatic) gearbox gets dismal write-ups, it's noisy and reduced the fuel economy. Just be aware also that a couple of reviewers think the normal 1.2 Petrol would be a better choice as it costs less to buy.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.

A four-star rating for a car of this class from a manufacturer like Nissan is not a great showing, though the actual scores and protection offered are not bad. The limited amount of safety assist is what cost the Micra that final star.

Stability control is standard across the range, but the Micra is loses out on marks for seatbelt reminders (driver only) and speed limitation devices (not standard range-wide), but these are oversights that Nissan ought to have addressed in pursuit of a good safety rating in Europe, regardless of built-to-budget, world-market aspirations.

Standard equipment may be a bit basic, but higher trim levels come with some nice kit. There’s four trim levels to choose from – Visia, Acenta, N-Tec and Tekna. We’d go for the N-Tec.

Nissan Micra Acenta

The Acenta is the second cheapest trim level and comes with automatic headlamps, 15-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, chrome interior finishes and body coloured door handles.

Nissan Micra N-Tec

The N-Tec is the middle-of-the-line trim and gets a 5.8-inch infotainment system that works with Google Maps routes from your smartphone, rain-sensing wipers, climate control, tinted windows and front fog lights. It even has a system that measures parking spaces as you pass them and alerts you when it finds a suitable spot.

Nissan Micra Tekna

The top of line trim level comes with plenty of technology such as touchscreen sat-nav, park assist, keyless entry and smartphone screen mirroring. It also gets unique alloy wheels and a roof-mounted spoiler to distinguish it from lesser models.

The Micra is a relatively cheap car and so will appeal to budget-orientated buyers. But value is a relative term and rivals like the Dacia Sandero have made the purchase price look rather high while the similarly budget-feeling Mitsubishi Mirage is more economical.

Conclusion

The Micra’s poor reviews are representative of a car that’s built down to a price. That isn’t a crime on its own, were it not for the fact that some recent rivals play the cheapness card with far greater conviction while offering greater space or equipment levels – we’re thinking Dacia here.

But price alone isn’t compelling. If, as many do, you’re buying on finance then spending just a little more will put you behind the wheel of a truly competitive supermini like the Ford Fiesta

Oddly, the fact that there’s almost nothing to excite about the Micra might be a great strength. It would be the perfect first car for your teenagers, for example, as there’s so little they can do with it to get themselves in trouble.

Even so, it’s really difficult to recommend the under-performing Micra next to many rivals that are cheaper, better or both and come with a unique selling point that, novelty supercharged engine aside, the Micra just doesn’t have.

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