What is the Nissan Micra?
Sorry, Nissan, but the Micra has the distinct aroma of mothballs about it and is a disappointing effort next to rivals such as the Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, Mini and VW Polo, which prove a supermini can be desirable as well as affordable.
Facelifted at the end of 2013, Micra prices start at £10,050, and the car comes only as a five-door hatchback with a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine — although that powerplant is available naturally aspirated or as a clever supercharged version. There is the option of an automatic transmission — a CVT setup — on both engines.
The pricing of the Micra range means it overlaps Nissan’s other compact hatchback, the Note. And in Driving’s view, that’s a much better car for buyers in this area of the car market, thanks to its smarter styling, more practical interior and superior driving experience.
Fun really doesn’t enter into Micra ownership. Nearly everything it does is unremarkable and functional, which is odd given that it is made by the company responsible for innovative models such as the Qashqai, Juke and GT-R.
The engine is a three-cylinder unit with a noisy thrum that some will view as charismatic but the majority of Micra customers will consider an irritation. The naturally aspirated, lower-powered version accelerates to 62mph in 13.7 seconds and returns up to 56.5mpg. The supercharged version, however, impresses with some great stats. It’s more powerful (97bhp) yet more frugal and cleaner, achieving 68.9mpg.
That’s made possible by direct fuel injection, a system that squirts a precise measurement of fuel directly into the combustion chamber under high pressure, reducing wastage. Better fuel economy isn’t the only benefit. Its low CO2 emissions of 95g/km relieve owners of paying any road tax.
The Micra’s ride and handling are below par. It may be an easy car to drive, but someone at Nissan assumed its target audience wouldn’t value a precise response from the steering and suspension. It’s shockingly vague, and the car rolls about in bends like a boat at sea and has trouble dealing with lumps and bumps in the road.
Even Nissan’s own Note shames the Micra. A Ford Fiesta or Volkswagen Polo are better still.
The Micra is one of the smaller superminis, so if it’s space and comfort you’re after, take a look at the Ford Fiesta, Honda Jazz, Nissan Note and VW Polo instead. It seems Nissan deems drivers of the entry-level Visia version unworthy of driving comfort, as the seat does not feature height adjustment.
And even on models with seat height adjustment, the driver’s seat doesn’t lower far enough, so it feels like you’re perched awkwardly high, as if in Grandpa’s special armchair. It reinforces the impression that Nissan views Micra buyers as being somewhere between retirement and a retirement home. And the steering wheel can’t be adjusted for reach, making it uncomfortably far away for taller drivers.
Annoyingly, the buttons to adjust the wing mirrors, trip computer and parking sensors are a stretch away, just above the driver’s right knee, and are hidden from view by the steering wheel. The back seat is a little tight on knee room Its boot volume is a respectable 265 litres and all-round outward visibility is fine, which makes parking a doddle.
It’s not all bad, though, as the Micra’s standard of fit and finish is quite high, and models like the Tekna feature NissanConnect, a seven inch touchscreen infotainment system that’s intuitive to use. However, it’s a £500 option on the Acenta and not available at all on the entry-level Visia trim.
The one to buy
The Nissan Micra 1.2 DIG-S Visia
Price: £11,250 (Correct at time of publication)
Engine: 1198cc, 3 cylinders, supercharged
Power: 97bhp @ 5600rpm
Torque: 105 lb ft @ 4400rpm
Transmission: 5-speed manual
Acceleration: 0-62mph in 11.3sec
Top Speed: 112mph
Fuel: 68.9mpg (combined)
Road Tax Band: A
Dimensions: L 3780mm, W 1675mm, H 1525mm
Nissan Micra rivals
- Nissan Note (Check used Nissan Note prices on driving.co.uk)
- Honda Jazz (Check used Honda Jazz prices on driving.co.uk)
- Skoda Roomster (Check used Skoda Roomster prices on driving.co.uk)