Nissan Micra 2017

Great dynamics and plush interior – new Micra promises great things

8.5
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 2 reviews
  • Smart looks
  • Great handling
  • Smart interior
  • Boot has cheap plastics
  • Limited engine range
  • Fiesta is more fun
 

£11,995 - £17,295 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

55 - 85 MPG

Review

Loved by the old, and often used as a learner for the young, the Nissan Micra has never been a mainstream choice in a way rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo always have been.

That’s set to change. This new model has its sights set squarely on its two main competitors, and you only need to look to the Qashqai – which sells like hotcakes laced with illegal substances – to know that Nissan is more than capable of administering a killer blow to the establishment.

There’s some strong Qashqai DNA in the Micra – that’s apparent just from looking at it. It gets the family’s so-called V-motion grille and piercing headlights, but the rest of design is a good deal more exciting than Nissan’s mid-sized crossover. There’s an origami theme to the kinked crease that runs down the car’s flanks and its distinctive tail lights appear to pop from the body work.

The connection to Nissan’s evergreen Qashqai runs more than skin deep – the Micra shares some very desirable tech with its big brother. All models come with Chassis Control – which includes Active Trace Control and Ride Control. The former gently applies the brakes individually to keep the car neat and tidy through corners, while the latter lightly dabs the anchors when the suspension rebounds over bumps to improve comfort.

As those additions hint, Nissan intends to split the Polo and Fiesta in two, being better to drive than the former and more cosseting than the latter.

The use of expensive tech means that money had to be saved somewhere and that ‘where’ is the boot, which is lined in cheap-feeling plastics, although it’s bigger than the one in the old car. Sadly, exact measurements have yet to be revealed.

No matter, the passenger space is rather nice with a minimalist design and a seven-inch colour touchscreen (fitted to mid-range models and above) that’s equipped with Apple CarPlay and makes the display fitted to the Fiesta look more like an 1990’s calculator. Only late-development cars have been driven, but Nissan assures us that production models’ interiors will be lined with squidgy soft plastics and two-tone colour finishes. Thus adding plenty of youthful appeal.

The Micra comes with five doors as standard – so access to the cabin is excellent – and the new model is longer and wider than the car it replaces. Interior space has been vastly improved as a result, although we’ll have to wait for Nissan to divulge exact figures.

Same goes for the standard equipment levels, although we do know the Micra will be offered with a six-speaker Bose surround-sound system, which includes two speakers housed in the driver’s seat headrest for what Nissan calls “a remarkably immersive listening experience”.

Safety kit will be generous – Lane Departure Prevention (a first for a supermini), Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian recognition, an Intelligent Around View Monitor, Traffic Sign Recognition, High Beam Assist and Blind Spot Warning will all be available. And with that clever kit on board, autonomous driving, in one form or another, could be just around the corner, too.

For now, though, you’ll have to drive the Micra yourself, but that should be no hardship. As we said before, Nissan sees the VW Polo and the Ford Fiesta as the cars it wants to beat. It aims to offer the VW’s comfortable ride and the Fiesta’s sporty dynamics.

And that’s just what it does. With the help of its Ride Control, the suspension isolates passengers from niggly roads with some style, even when it is fitted with relatively large 17-inch wheels.

But the comfort doesn’t make the Micra feel all at sea in corners. The Active Trace Control system works effectively in the background helping the Nissan hold its line and enter bends neatly. The steering is light – perfect for low-speed manoeuvring in town – but is also quick and accurate enough to feel engaging and make the most of the car’s grip.

For the sportiest drive, the turbocharged 90hp 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol is the engine to go for. It feels nippy in town, and is quick enough for motorway work, too. Figures aren’t official yet, but you can expect the petrol to get from 0-62mph in under 12 seconds, return fuel economy of around 60mpg and cost £20 to tax.

Also available from launch is a 90hp 1.5-litre diesel – which should better 80mpg fuel economy. An entry-level 73hp 1.0-litre petrol will join the range after the car goes on sale.

Conclusion

With Nissan being otherwise engaged designing and building some of the best crossovers currently on sale, it’s fair to say the Micra has been neglected over the past few years. But this new model shows exactly what the company is capable of. It successfully carries tech over from larger models in the range to form what is one of the most accomplished superminis yet to be offered.

A verdict on just how good it is will have to wait for a UK drive and a head-to-head comparison with its competitors, but the initial signs point to the Micra being a new class leader.