While it is beyond our remit to tell you whether or not you should think a car attractive, even the most cursory glance at the latest Nissan Micra will tell you that it does without the flair that marked out its predecessor when it was launched in 2002, and that of the car’s rounded 1993 antecedent.

The 2013 facelift helps in this regard – all the bits you can see from the windscreen forward are new. The grille features a chromed V motif and the bonnet, wings, headlights and front bumper are also all new. A rear wing, previously only available on top-spec models, is now fitted across the range, base model apart, and there’s a lip on the base of the tailgate which creates a smoother look between the boot and bumper.

That such a refresh of the latest model was rushed out so quickly says plenty about how unloved the car was

Two semi-circular creases in the roof are claimed to increase panel rigidity and add a little visual drama, but given the cost of pressing this largely unnoticed flourish into a cheap car, the cash would have been better spent elsewhere.

The moulded rear wing is designed to improve aerodynamics (0.33 Cd) as well as styling. It also helps to keep the rear screen a touch cleaner. The Micra is not a car blessed with myriad styling details aimed at surprise and delight, but the way the roof extends back towards the rear spoiler is one of the few.

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The changes are a vast improvement, but it still lacks the visual impact of the Kia Picanto, second-generation Hyundai i10 and any number of cheap superminis. Despite the significant visual changes, the Micra is an unremarkable piece of design.

Were this car the product of any one of several budget manufacturers, we would bat not an eyelid, but it’s more surprising – and more than a little disappointing – when it comes from a company that has promoted the Juke to its ranks. However, Nissan has aimed to rectify this with a far more aggressive and attractive looking fifth generation car, while its larger dimensions have also placed it in the European B-segment for the first time, which will allow it to compete with the popular Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta.

The new Micra is claimed to be lighter than its predecessor – as little as 915kg – and that’s not a shabby achievement for a car that is bigger than before. At 3780mm long, it’s still one of the smaller superminis currently on sale.

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