► CAR’s 2017 Nissan Micra review
► We test the new Japanese supermini
► Priced from £11,995, here March 2017
Is there a more schizophrenic car maker than Nissan? One minute the Micra is a fashionable Brit-built, bubble-car hit, selling by the million in Europe, the next it’s a forgettable Indian import, languishing at the bottom of the sales chart.
The new 2017 Nissan Micra aims to atone for the sins of its predecessor. The pendulum has swung. It looks to have rediscovered its mojo…
Read on for our full CAR magazine Nissan Micra review.
At last! An interesting Micra again!
Indeed. It’s hard to remember such a transformation. Where the last Micra was a global car built in India, the new one is a Euro-focused package, designed in Tokyo and London, and built at a Renault factory in Paris.
It’s a striking car, considerably better-looking than the dullard that went before. Granted, it’s quite fussy in that over-styled Japanese fashion in some respects - and may date quickly - but in the right colour it’s an undeniably crisp, cool small hatchback.
The blacked-out windows and floating roofline work well; just watch out for the blindspot they cause if you peer over your shoulder...
Gavin Green on how the new Micra has bounced back
It slots in at 3999mm long for supermini status and the extra space (17cm longer, 8cm wider) guarantees extra room, especially in the front.
The rear seats suffer from the raked roofline, with crimped headroom; kids will be fine, but it’s a bit of a squeeze in the back if you’re used to Skoda Fabia levels of spaciousness.
Spec, engineering details of new 2017 Nissan Micra
Underpinning those svelte looks is a heavily updated version of the last Micra’s architecture. Improvements come in the steering system borrowed from the Qashqai and the rear suspension has been heavily beefed up, for a stiffer response from the beam axle.
Choose from a trio of engines at launch:
- 0.9 Three-cylinder turbocharged petrol, 89bhp, 110lb ft (on overboost)
- 1.0 Three-cylinder naturally aspirated, 72bhp, 70lb ft
- 1.5 Four-cylinder turbodiesel, 89bhp, 162lb ft
All drive the front wheels and come with a slick five-speed manual transmission only at launch; Nissan is developing a CVT auto, like before, but has declined a DCT twin-clutch box from partner Renault.
A brighter, lighter interior
Climb onboard and the cabin is leagues ahead of its predecessor. The front seats are firm but comfy; upgrade to the excellent £500 Bose sound system and the driver has speakers installed in the head restraint (see below), for an impressively immersive stereo. We can’t think of a better audio experience in a supermini.
Build quality is impressive and prospective owners can choose from three different interior colour packs, with appliqués to spruce up the dashboard design. They've even included a cool, disco-backlit phone holder ahead of the gearlever.
It’s not Polo quality but it’s up there with the best volume mass-production interiors. The touchscreen infotainment system works effectively and offers Apple CarPlay on higher specs.
The acid test: how does the new Nissan Micra drive?
We tested both the turbocharged petrol and diesel launch models and they’re nicely judged. Hardly any Brits will buy the oil-burner (the price differential hampers diesel superminis in the UK) and although it’s a refined engine with excellent eco credentials (CO2 falls as low as 85g/km), we’d recommend the petrol engine instead.
It’s a tiny downsized triple, but one with impressive refinement - it's certainly quieter than VW's triple. And with a slippery 0.29 drag coefficient, it's a hushed cruiser. You’ll detect a hint of three-cylinder tingle at high revs, but you’d be hard pushed to tell most of the time.
With 89bhp of push, it’s hardly going to threaten warm-hatch status but performance is spot-on for the target market. The brakes (discs up front, rear drums) haul off the speed unobtrusively and effectively.
Our car rode on 16in alloy wheels which gave a well-cushioned ride; it feels like a stiff structure, and the steering responses are well weighted. The outgoing Fiesta is still the best car in class to drive, but the Micra no longer relegates driving pleasure at the expense of bean-counting.
Interestingly, the new Micra uses the brakes to trim handling - and for lane departure - tugging the car tighter in to the apex of corners. It’s pretty subtle, but left us wondering what a Micra GTI could be like…
Is it still cheap and cheerful?
Priced from £11,995, the Micra is on the supermini money. PCP punters can pick up a 1.0-litre Visia from £169 a month in the UK (we haven’t tested the potentially weedy nat-asp 1.0 yet, though) and there’s a new car sharing club aimed at getting youngsters to pool their Micras.
Remember to stick with smaller rims if you want to trim your tax bills; all the cars we drove had 16s and had a decent, plump ride quality; picking the larger 17in wheels can add as much as 7g/km to your CO2 rating and may add extra jiggle.
It’s mission accomplished with the new Nissan Micra. The unpredictable product pendulum in Tokyo has swung back to interesting again - and that’s surely cause for celebration. We can safely recommend it once more.
Click here for more Nissan car reviews