The Nissan Micra has always been a dependable small car that has endeared itself well to the Irish public, but it’s never been desirable among the young and trendy.
For sure a lot of young drivers have started off in a Nissan Micra, but that was probably more about convenience and affordability than any great grá for the diminutive supermini from Japan.
The thing with the Micra is that at least in this part of the world, it’s always been viewed as a bit elderly, like shopping trolleys with wheels and fleece bed jackets.
Now Nissan has completely changed the design to launch generation 5 of the Micra and it’s been designed with Europe as a target and ‘styled to turn heads’.
The new Nissan Micra is sporty with presence derived from an angular and aggressive design that is light years away from previous models. The 2017 Nissan Micra’s transformation is nothing short of dramatic, but this is now one of the coolest looking superminis around. I can’t believe I’m writing this.
The Nissan Micra always had quite an exotic colour palette and there is a range of ten colours to choose from including the ‘much better than in photos’ Energy Orange of my test car. Customisation is also a feature and there are two styling packs in four different colours to inject more attitude into your Micra.
Inside, the interior of the Micra has been thoroughly modernised and there is a good mix of materials to break up the drab grey plastic look bestowed to some rivals. Hard plastics feature but the car feels more upmarket than cheap. If you avoid the base model, there is a 7” display audio system in the centre of the dash, while the top two trims have Nissan Connect infotainment integrating a 7” touchscreen.
In terms of interior space, the new Nissan Micra is lower, wider and longer than its predecessor so roomier inside. It will carry four adult passengers in reasonable comfort, though the rear is noticeably dark because of the high window line and headroom is not overly generous back there either. At 300 litres, the boot is a good size for a supermini though the load lip is high.
Standard specification on entry XE models includes LED daytime running lights, electric door mirrors and front windows, Hill Start Assist, and air con. It’s worth upgrading to SV for 16-inch alloys, 7” display audio system, and cruise control. SV Premium adds leather steering wheel, privacy glass, front fog lamps, LED ambient lighting, auto air conditioning, rain sensors, and Nissan Connect. The top spec SVE trim adds 17-inch alloys, engine start button, rear view camera with rear parking sensors, BOSE Personal audio system with six speakers, and a Safety Pack including lane departure warning and traffic sign recognition.
In Ireland, the new Nissan Micra is offered with a 0.9 litre turbo petrol (90hp), a 1.0-litre petrol (71hp) and a 1.5-litre diesel (90hp). The range starts at a competitive €16,650 for the base 1.0-litre XE. Turbo petrol models start from €17,650, and diesels start from €18,650.
So what’s new Micra like on the road? First impressions are good in that new Micra is agile with a pleasant light feeling to the steering and a willingness to be tipped into corners without feeling like the whole thing might give up on the way to the retirement home. New Micra is not perfect: that light steering is great at low speeds around town but out on the twistier stuff, there is an inert feeling that misses a trick for a car that looks the business.
There is a firm edge to the suspension that’s not really an issue when driving around town but on the motorway leads to a restless feeling underneath you. Still, there is fun to be had in this new Micra especially with the 0.9-litre turbo petrol engine that has a lovely shove of torque low in the rev range making it super nippy around town. It can bop along with the best of them on the motorway too and overtaking requires a few gear changes but the turbo means you will never be left wanting once you learn where to have the revs in the right place.
For those of us who buy cars with our eyes, the new Nissan Micra ticks all the right boxes for a stylish and desirable supermini. It’s hard not to be impressed by the brave new direction the Nissan Micra has taken. The Micra has undergone a radical transformation and now has all the assets it needs to be name checked among the titans of the supermini class. And no one need ever be embarrassed again to say they drive a Nissan Micra.
Model tested: Nissan Micra 0.9 SVE
Price: €20,650 (Range starts at €16,650)
Engine: 0.9-litre turbo petrol
0-100km/h: 12.1 seconds
Top speed: 175km/h
CO2 emissions: 104g/km
Motor tax: €190 per year
If you are looking for a new supermini, you might also like this review of the Citroen C3.