For the past three decades Nissan has sold its Micra in bucket loads. This is partly because itís cheap to buy and easy to drive. This not only makes it appealing to first time car buyers but those that are looking to downsize from larger cars. Our photo shows the latest version itís a difference from the old car. It promises a sportier drive and its posher interior could actually make it rise head and shoulders above its competition. However, is the Micra now a better choice than rivals such as the SEAT Ibiza, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen polo? Letís find out.
Letís start with engine choice. Thereís a slow 1.0 litre non-turbocharged petrol engine which has 70 bhp (break horse power) and a puny 71 pound-foot of torque. All of this means that it gets to 60 mph (miles per hour) in a truly glacial 16.9 seconds. It has just enough poke to be able to cope around town but as soon as you get to a B-road then it really starts to struggle. Also, at over 3,000 rpm (revs per minute) it also starts to get a little but noisy. All of this leads us to the engine we recommend which is the 0.9 litre turbocharged petrol engine and is definitely worth the premium over the entry level engine. This engine has the right blend of performance to use around town and also on the open road. Ok, it does get a little bit vocal when you push it through the rev range but it has enough low-end grunt that youíll seldom need to do this. If youíre doing enough miles to warrant buying a diesel then thereís a 1.5 litre diesel engine available which has a good delivery of power across the rev range and is one of the smoothest in its class. Sadly, the 5-speed manual gearbox isnít impressive as the action is a little bit vague. What is impressive though is the clutch, itís light and positive and the brakes are really progressive. All of this really does makes the Micra a breeze to drive around town.
In terms of how the Nissan Micra rides, its suspension is fairly stiffly sprung which on the plus side stops the car from bouncing around over undulating roads. However, it also means that the SEAT Ibiza, Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo are all smoother riding. This is particularly noticeable around town where the Micra fidgets and has a tendency to crash over the kind of sharp potholes that those three rivals would cross without much bother. At least the Micraís jitteriness smooths out when the speed increases and makes it a very good motorway cruiser. The Micraís light steering lends itself perfectly to city driving though when you get out onto the open road it doesnít quite weight up nicely like youíd find in a Ford Fiesta or SEAT Ibiza. It does however have plenty of grip around the corners and very minimal body lean but the back-end can feel a little bit skittish in wet conditions. Overall, this car is reasonably sporty though not quite as sporty as we were expecting.
Thereís no getting away from the fact that the Micra is a small car though most people should be able to find a driving position that works. This is thanks to the available adjustment in the seat and also the steering wheel which adjusts for reach and rake. In terms of visibility itís excellent out of the front apart from the sloping A-pillars which can cause a slight obstruction at junctions. Itís out of the back that it becomes a bit of a problem though as the pillars back here are very thick and the screen is very shallow. However, you can spec a reversing camera and parking sensors on the mid-range Acenta model and they come as standard on the top of the range Tekna. In terms of interior quality, the dashboard is logically laid out and the buttons and switches are very clearly labelled. One criticism we do have is that unless you choose one of the priciest models on offer then the steering wheel is plastic and the gear is rubber. These are the two main points of contact when youíre driving a car so it can give off a cheap feeling which isnít ideal. Overall the fit and finish is just not quite as pristine as youíd find in the Volkswagen Polo. Acenta models and above come with a 7-inch touchscreen which we found to be crisp and easy to use. It does however have quite small icons which are a little bit tricky to hit accurately on the move. Youíll have to buy an optional Connect package or go for the pricey N-Connecta or Tekna trims if you want the built in sat-nav and DAB radio. However, Apple Car Play and MirrorLink are standard on mid-spec Acenta models and this allows you to use your phoneís apps via the screen. The optional BOSE stereo has speakers on the side of the driverís headrest and creates very effective surround sound which is quite cool. Up front, the Nissan Micra has to be one of the roomiest cars in its class. Itís also fairly practical with plenty of cup holders, a decent sized door bin and a large glovebox.
If you regularly carry more than one adult passenger itís probably worth crossing the Micra off of your list. This is because in the back thereís not exactly loads of legroom and even if youíre just 5ft Ĺ tall youíll be acutely aware of how close the roof it to your head. So, overall being in the back of the Micra is not the most comfortable place to be. As for the boot, itís a decent size and usefully wide. You can fit a buggy in here or the weekly shop however you can fit more in the Ibiza, Polo or Skoda Fabia. If luggage space is a real priority to you then youíll probably be better off with a Honda Jazz or a small estate car such as the Fabia estate.
Although there are cheap versions of the Nissan Micra the version that youíre really going to want, with the best spec and trim, are not noticeably cheaper than our favourite versions of the Fabia, Ibiza and Polo. That said, our favourite engine, the 0.9 litre, returns 45 miles to the gallon in our test. As for equipment, the entry-level Visia does not come with air-conditioning so youíll need to upgrade to the Visia+ to get this. Our favourite has to be the mid-range Acenta simply because it comes with a touchscreen infotainment system, allow wheels and cruise control. Above that you have N-Connecta and Tekna trims and are just too expensive for us to recommend event though they come with a long list of equipment including sat-nav, folding mirrors and rear privacy glass. All Micras come with a very impressive list of standard safety equipment. This includes, front, side and window airbags, a lane departure warning system and an automatic emergency braking system that can stop you from running into pedestrians or another car. The UK spec get the maximum five-star safety rating from EuroNCAP which matches rivals such as the SEAT Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo. Unfortunately, although the Micra comes with a long list of standard safety equipment overall it is a little underwhelming and doesnít perform as well as the best cars in its class.
If you think that the Nissan Micra is a car that worth taking a look at the head to our used Nissan Micra cars for sale section for a great deal.