Published on May 4th, 2017 | by Seán Ward0
The New Nissan Micra Is A Car You’d Actually Want To Own
Have you ever looked at a Nissan Micra before and thought “wow, I’d really love to buy one of those one day?” Of course the answer is no, because while the Micra has always sold quite well it has never been the car to buy if you’re actually interested in cars. The old Micra was the sort of car parents would buy for their children as a first car or people in their mid-sixties would buy as a supermarket runaround, not a machine very many young people would really want to own.
Thankfully the new Nissan Micra is different. Design wise this is a handsome little car. It’s 78mm wider, 174mm longer, and has a 55mm lower roofline compared to the previous Micra, and there’s a boldness and a confidence to the car’s design that just hasn’t been there before. That may well put some of the more senior buyers off, but Nissan wants this new Micra to be a stepping stone for a younger audience into other Nissan products. Again, that was something the old Micra really didn’t do.
The interior design is less bold but still miles better than the interior on the old Micra. You can even personalise it with colour details and different dash materials to suit your tastes, if you’re into that sort of thing.
There are three engines available at launch, a 1.0 litre petrol, a 0.9 litre turbocharged petrol, and a 1.5 litre turbocharged diesel. We were filming with the black Micra you see pictured (the video of which you can watch here), which had the 0.9 litre turbocharged petrol engine. Performance is underwhelming but on a level with many other cars in the segment: 90bhp, 110lb/ft of torque, 0-60mph in 12.1 seconds, and a top speed of 109mph. We also had a chance to drive the diesel, with the same 90bhp but 162lb/ft of torque. 0-60mph is dispatched marginally quicker than in the petrol with a time of 11.9 seconds, and the top speed is 111mph.
Speed isn’t the Micra’s forte, then, but with any luck there will be some sort of Nismo version in the next year or two which will give yobs like me a performance fix. Both engines are very smooth, though, and the diesel remarkably quiet.
How does the new Micra drive? The steering is light at low speeds but thankfully gets a bit heavier as you pick up the pace, and the suspension does a very good job of insulating you from the road underneath, thanks mostly to the fact that the Micra’s final suspension sign-off for the whole of Europe was done after testing in the UK. There is a degree of roll, as you’d expect, but the trade-off is that ride quality.
Working in the background are two new systems that really push the new Micra away from its predecessor: Intelligent Ride Control and Intelligent Trace Control. Intelligent Ride Control uses both the engine and brakes to control the pitch of the car forwards and backwards over heavy bumps, the exact workings of which are still a mystery to me but I’m reassured by Nissan of their effectiveness, and Intelligent Trace Control adjusts the brakes mid corner to pull you onto a tighter line. Torque vectoring by braking, essentially.
There’s only one gearbox for the new Micra at the moment, a five-speed manual, but the gearbox in the diesel powered Micra was just that little bit nicer to use than the gearbox in the petrol car, with a reassuring weight to both the gear lever and the clutch that the petrol’s ‘box didn’t have.
I feel like my conclusion is an obvious one: the new Nissan Micra is a huge leap forward, and a genuine rival to other cars in its class, not just a car that plugs a gap in Nissan’s product range. It drives well enough, the engines are good, and the design is so much better. As the title reads, the new Nissan Micra is a car you’d actually want to own.