The Nissan Micra has been with us since 1982, and is one of the UK’s most recognisable nameplates. We’ve always thought of it as a soft, bubbly, chintzy supermini. Not any more. At least it’s no longer some of those things.

The fourth-gen Micra is now a global car, sold in more than 55 countries and built in four, of which the UK (now home to the higher-tech Leaf) is not one. It is built in Thailand, Mexico, China and – from where UK-destined Micras sail – India.

Marketing a global car is simple enough if you are at the extremes of luxury, performance or utility; a Mercedes-AMG 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 its ‘V’ (for Versatile) platform has allowed its engineers to adapt the Micra to suit the myriad regions where it will be sold.

Nevertheless, just three years after the launch of the fourth-generation K13 Micra, the car was heavily facelifted in response to poor sales. The fundamental problem was that after the funky third-generation Micra, it lacked any sort of pizzazz – dynamic, design or otherwise.

The facelift saw an entirely new front end from the windscreen forward, cosmetic tinkering at the rear of the car and revisions to improve perceived quality and appearance.

With the Pixo previously marking the entry point to the Nissan range in the UK, the Micra moved upscale in pricing and is only available a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and four trim levels: Visia Limited Edition, Vibe, Acenta and n-tec. Buyers have the option of a five-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox mated to either engine.

With the standard engine emitting just 99g/km of CO2, Nissan’s engineers didn’t think a diesel engine would be worthwhile – and they’re probably right.

However, as you may find from visiting Nissan's website, this fourth generation Micra is being phased out for an all-new version. The fifth generation Micra has a very different remit by aiming for the established front runners - the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, and to do so it will share numerous components and the production line with the Renault Clio.

Top 5 Superminis

  • Ford Fiesta
    Fiestas sold in Europe are ostensibly the same as those sold in America and Asia

    Ford Fiesta

  • Mini Cooper
    Its various improvements make the new Mini more desirable and practical than ever before

    Mini Cooper

  • The Mazda 2
    The Mazda 2 name dates back to 2002. This latest version showcases the firm's Skyactiv technology and 'Kodo' styling

    Mazda 2

  • Volkswagen Polo
    The Polo is a polished, mature-feeling, spacious supermini

    Volkswagen Polo

  • Renault Clio
    Distinctive styling details are taken from the showstopping Renault Dezir concept car

    Renault Clio


First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • 2017 Vauxhall Insignia prototype first drive
    First Drive
    25 October 2016
    We review the next-generation Vauxhall Insignia and find that, while still disguised and giving little away about its appearance, it's encouragingly good to drive
  • 2016 Ford Kuga ST-Line 1.5 Ecoboost 182
    First Drive
    25 October 2016
    The Kuga ST-Line is enjoyable to drive, but this version of the 1.5-litre Ecoboost engine doesn't suit Ford's SUV
  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    Can Seat’s first SUV impress, even with the heavy burden of expectation?
  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    The last hurrah for the current Aston Martin Vantage adds the track-ready GT8 to the range
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    20 October 2016
    New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement