Published on August 18th, 2017 | by Seán Ward0
New Nissan Micra: Worlds Away From The Old, All The Better For It
The Nissan Micra used to be a bit of a joke, really. It was a car, it worked, and Nissan sold quite a few of them, but to anyone interested in cars it was something to be avoided at all costs.
Thankfully things have changed with this, the all-new Nissan Micra. For the first time in the Micra’s history it’s a car that actually catches your eye.
There are three engines available at the moment, including two petrols and one diesel (you can read about them here), but the car you see here today is powered by the new 0.9 litre, turbocharged three-cylinder. It’s a tiny, tiny little engine, producing 90bhp at 5,500rpm and 103lb/ft at 2,250rpm.
Because it’s so tiny, performance is also tiny. 0-62mph takes 12.1 seconds and the top speed is 109mph, and this isn’t even the entry level engine (there’s now a 70bhp version of this car, too, which is even slower).
You’ve got to work the engine really hard to get anywhere. That’s not the end of the world, but because the Micra is now a bigger, much sportier looking car than before you just expect a bit more performance. But there should be a Nismo version along soon enough, so that’ll deal with the speed issue.
The bigger issue for me is that the engine’s power delivery isn’t particularly smooth. Below 2,500rpm there’s really no power at all and beyond that the turbo starts to wake up, but it’s just a bit aggressive; it makes pulling away or modulating the throttle surprisingly difficult.
Even a short drive in the Micra would reveal how the steering has improved over the outgoing model, but it’s still not perfect. It’s light but weights up as your speed increases, and when you turn the wheel the front wheels actually react, but it feels disconnected until you’ve got some steering angle.
The gearbox? It’s a five-speed manual and I’m afraid it isn’t great. I remember driving both the diesel and the petrol Micra on the launch, and the diesel definitely had a nicer, weightier gearbox. This is light, quite vague, and obstructive if you try to change gear quickly. The clutch is quite long and spongey, too.
Arrive at a corner with a hint of pace and you’ll find there’s a little bit of roll but, again, nowhere near as much as you’d find in the old model. There’s a surprising amount of grip too, in part because the new Micra is lower, wider and longer than before, but also thanks to two new systems: Intelligent Trace Control and Intelligent Ride Control.
Intelligent Trace control brakes the inside front wheel, pulling the nose onto a tighter line, whereas Intelligent Ride Control tweaks the front brakes and then the rears to keep the car flatter over big bumps in the road.
As for the way it looks? My oh my, the Micra has come such a long way. It’s hard to explain just how important it was for Nissan to get the styling right with the new Micra, and I think they really have. Sure, some established Micra buyers might be pushed away, but for every pensioner who looks at something else there will be two or three people the sunny side of 25 who give the Micra some attention for the very first time.
It’s a similar story with the interior. Yes, you sit a little too high, but it’s an interesting place to sit and a world away from the Micra interior of old. You can specify leather dash trim to match the exterior paintwork, something I highly recommend, and even opt for Bose speakers in the driver headrests.
I like this new Micra. The steering could be more intuative, the engine should be smoother, and the gearbox needs some work, but it is worlds away from the old Micra and all the better for it, both in how it drives and how it looks.
If you’ve overlooked the Micra in the past for fear of being embarrassed, fear no more.