The Nissan Micra has been around since 1982, but it was with the second-generation model, introduced in 1992, that it really came of age as a supermini. The Sunderland-built car’s attractive shape and overall competitiveness helped it pick up the 1993 European Car of the Year award and, with a facelift, it remained in production until 2002. The third-generation car that followed was similarly competitive in its day and, via a 2007 facelift, continued until the arrival of the iteration tested here.
We’ve always thought of the Micra as a soft, bubbly, chintzy supermini. Not any more. At least, it’s no longer some of those things. The all-new, fourth-gen Micra is now a global car, to be sold in 160 countries and built in four, of which the UK (now home to the higher-tech Leaf) is not one. The Micra will be built in Thailand, Mexico, China and – from where UK-destined Micras will sail – India.
Marketing a global car is simple enough if you are at the extremes of luxury, performance or utility; a Mercedes-Benz SLS is equally as desirable and a Toyota Hilux equally as useful in central Europe, the US mid-west or the Far East. Conventional family cars have, traditionally, had a harder time convincing their respective customers that, say, standards for Asia are compatible with those of western Europe. Nissan, though, says that a new platform has allowed its engineers to adapt the Micra to suit the myriad regions where it will be sold.
With the Nissan Pixo now propping up the Nissan range in the UK, the Micra has moved upscale in pricing and is only available with two versions of a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder petrol engine (one with supercharging) and three trim levels: Visia. Acenta and Tekna. With the standard engine emitting just 115g/km of CO2, Nissan didn’t think a diesel engine would be worthwhile - they’re probably right.