The Nissan Micra - the iconic hatchback, which became bland, bubbly and unappealing to the masses, well that's about to change. For years the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa have dominated the small car market, however Nissan want it back.
Over the course of one week we tested the 900cc, yes 0.9l Petrol Nissan Micra Tekna: a turbo charged small car, aiming to reclaim its position in the small car market. We travelled over 1,000 miles, tackling the busy streets of The Midlands, then headed up to the remote twisty roads of Lancashire, Cumbria and The Lake District.
The first Nissan Micra was released in 1982, a small hatchback assembled in Japan, with a body that was meant to replace the Fiat 127, however they chose the Giugario design and K10 Micra was born, an economical lightweight car weighing in at 630kg.
There have been 5 generations to date with the 3 first generations doing relatively well, however the K13 model didn't fair as well in the European market. The K14 - more commonly known as the 5th Generation Micra - is here to right that, and with the new model starting at £12,000 and the top of range model priced at just over £20,000, there's a lot to love about the British designed and engineered 2017 model.
The 2017 Micra is a thing of beauty, and a million miles away from the more recent designs. This small car is certainly what you would call aesthetically pleasing, research and development have done their homework. The design isn't just for beauty either, it also serves a purpose: aerodynamics as well as style. So t's no surprise to see when looking at the hatchback, that's it's the most aerodynamic in its class. This is achieved by adding subtle changes to the design, such as the rear door handles being positioned next to the rear window, a strategy used on Alfa Romeo cars to maintain airlflow down the bodylines, the rear lenses also aid in this as well as the overall bodyshape and of course, the rear spoiler. This clever styling incorporates lenses, mirrors, bonnet, re positioned door handles and other body parts to allow the bodyline to flow down the whole car, making a design statement and serving functionality simultaneously.
In addition to style for purpose there is also funky styling for looks as well as practicality including:
Carbon Fibre Style Trim
17in Alloys with 205 45 Profile
LED Daytime Running Lights
Aerodynamic Rear Lenses which follow the Bodyline
Power Folding Mirrors
External Pack Plus - colour customisable trim panels
Bee Sting Aerial
Looking at the overall exterior is a very pleasing experience, sporty, with styling tips from the GTR and funky coloured additions and privacy windows really making the car standout (however practicality had it's issues, we cover these later) - in fact whilst on location, members of the public regualrly walked upto the team and had fun guessing which of the new Nissan cars it could be, when we revealed it was the 2017 Micra they were amazed, there was the most interest we've ever had with a car on review. Many added this will appeal to a wide audience, I'd certainly have one, and we'd have to agree with them.
Stepping behind the wheel isn't quite what you expect for a small car, immediately you are met with a premium experience with lots of stitched leather and soft touch plastics, a world away from the previous versions. The interior is full two tone leather and very plush, sporty enough to support, but not as much as to hinder movement, and did I add these are heated - this styling is complemented by a leather wrapped steering wheel and gearbox gator. If music and info is your bag, the Micra 2018 has got you covered with a 7" infotainment system with Sat Nav and personal Bose speaker experience.
A few details that detract from the premium experience are a few scratchy plastics and screw hole covers, however the feel of the interior is superb and a welcome place to be.
The Ford Fiesta has come out on top when it comes to driving experience, with the Corsa coming in a close 2nd - both being very engaging sporty cars to drive. Well the Nissan Micra is here to change that, the once unengaging run about has now gone, it is sporty, responsive and cool, and Nissan has followed suit by scrapping the 1.2 and 1.4 in favour of turbo charged engine size of just under a litre, which isn’t a bad thing.
There are two engine choices available a 0.9L petrol as well as a 1.5L diesel both producing 88bhp. The car we tested was the perky 0.9L petrol, you might expect this engine to feel very underpowered considering the size of the car, however the power was ample, there were no issues when on the open road, and when undertaking motorway driving. Admittedly when pulling out of junctions and using first and second gear, you do have to work the engine higher into the revs, however once the turbo kicks in everything is fine. Despite also lacking some of the refinement of the Ford Ecoboost engine, it was great fun when undertaking more spirited driving on the B roads and considering we still got 52 MPG we were thoroughly impressed.
The ride was one of the most desirable aspects of the Micra, this is in part to it being designed and engineered in Britain. This collaboration gives you a car that can handle the poor road surfaces that you so commonly encounter in this country, the ride is smooth when cruising in and out of town and handle corners very well, the car feels stable and flat at all times. Our particular car was fitted with the optional 17” alloy wheels with low profile tyres which although worked wonders in the corners did not handle some of the more treacherous pot holes, however that’s to be expected.
One area of the Micra which really stood out above the competition was the steering, we found it one of the best in its class, the overall feel was very accurate and precise, however not so much as to make it an annoyance on long cruises. When tackling corners quickly, it was direct and responsive and easy to drive at all times, when carrying out city driving it was light and agile, making it a breeze to park and manoeuvre around town. The driving characteristics are definitely going to make this car very popular, especially with the younger market.
One big downfall we felt with the Micra was the gearbox, unfortunately it did lack the precision and tightness that some of its rivals have. The throw between gears was too large, especially for quite a sporty car and was sometimes difficult to get into gear, especially reverse. The ratios were very nice and felt much closer to a traditional engine, something which the Eco Boost does struggle with.
Something which really did pay dividends to the Micra was its intelligent driver aids. The systems - which helped with the suspension and steering - really did stand out and made the car a cut above the competition. Our favourite was the system which brakes the inside wheels when cornering, you really do feel it working!
We covered over one thousand miles in the 2017 K14, it certainly impressed, and not what you've come to expect when you think of a Micra. The engine and gearbox is not quite as refined as a Ford Fiesta however as an overall package the Nissan Micra is far better, the driver conveniences and intelligent driving aids make the car easier and safer to drive this type of tech definitely out run the cars short comings.
Space in the front of this small hatchback is very ample with plenty of head room and leg room, with lots of adjustment in the front, optionally heated seats and steering wheel. The front of the car is well kitted out with relatively large doorbins, central cubby hole with 3 cup holders, and ambient lit storage area just under the dash. As for the glove box, this was very large for the class of car and allowed you to store a handheld tablet and large bag of crisps. All controls are all within easy reach of the driver, located on either side of the steering wheel, or on the central control area just below the infotainment system.
The rear of the car doesn't quite match up to the front, for example: adults over 6ft will struggle in the back, unless the driver/passenger aren't partially reclined or adjusted, however children and smaller adults should be no problem, so fitting 3 people in the rear may also be quite a challenge. ISOFIX points are available on the front and rear seats and the door opening is quite wide. The two tone leather interior does make the car feel more premium than its rivals, however it would have been nice to see some of the premium leathers and soft touch materials from the dash on the door cards. Our particular car had the tinted windows, although this really adds to the exterior it did make the back rather dark and claustrophobic, which is a shame. The lavish front cabin space and large boot could mean that the rear passenger space is reduced - is this a compromise you are willing to make?
There is a wide range of tech on the new Micra, this includes 7” Touch screen infotainment system (with Sat Nav), cruise control and autonomous braking system, that’s just to name a few. It is worth remembering the model we tested was the top of the line Tekna, meaning other models may not have the same additions. The infotainment system provides phone connectivity, satellite navigation and DAB radio. The ICE system is fast and responsive, with well laid out controls that are easy to use. It's also just not fun tech - there's alot of practicaility and functionality there including 360-degree parking camera and sensors, however the resolution of the cameras does let it down a little, however it is perfectlly ample and makes manoeuvring simple and quick.
There is one option we particularly stood out and that is the Bose personal sound system, this incorporates speakers on headrest and also speakers on the front pillars, we can say from extensive testing it sounds amazing and adds a whole new element to listening to your favourite playlist, definitely a system you want to turn up loud.
The Micra is one of the safest cars in its class and you'll be glad to know a lot of this comes standard on all new Micra models. Our Tekna car was fitted with everything, even Intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition and full beam assist. This was complemented with an abundance of air bags, ISOFIX points and lane departure warnings, so you really do feel safe whilst travelling in the Micra. Nissan have really done their homework on intelligent driving aids and 2 really stood out, those being the Intelligent trace control and ride control. These systems carried out tasks such as braking the front and or rear wheels when going over bumps to smoothen the ride, to braking the inside wheels when taking corners.
Overall the Micra is a really well kitted out car, this makes it an enjoyable and relaxing place to be, the additional safety features mean that it goes above and beyond many of its rivals.
The Nissan Micra is a definite improvement over the previous generation, with many redeeming qualities. The 5th generation is striking with a sporty design, abundance of tech and engaging driving experience and this really does show that Nissan have got their rivals firmly in sight. One thing to mention if your trying to economise on creating your perfect 2018 Micra is choose your options carefully when specifying, as it can increase your price with options such as premium paint and leather trim. The only down side you would need to weigh up is the rear passenger space, saying that its a great car to drive and really does turn heads.
Overall it’s a great car and a certain rival to the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo and Vauxhall Corsa.
Style and looks 10/10
Cost (Outright) 7/10
Finance Options 8/10
8 / 10 Overall Score
This was our experience for a 7 day test, fuel economy and long term usage can not be fully documented.