From £7,940
Lives up to its ‘sporting’ tag. Decent chassis, willing engine, first-rate pricing and equipment.

What’s this you say? A sporting Nissan Micra? A few years ago, you’d have scoffed, but not any more. Although even we raised an eyebrow or two when Nissan opted to launch its 160SR at Cadwell Park, one of Europe’s most difficult and challenging race circuits.In truth, we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the regular Micra drives well enough, and the 160SR’s chassis has been developed by those that tuned the 350Z for Europe. The SR has been lowered, roll stiffness is up 27 percent, there are 20 percent (front) and 10 percent (rear) stiffer spring rates, a 55 percent increase in rear twist beam stiffness and an increased front anti-roll bar diameter. So around Cadwell it’s a screamer, right?Well, no. The 108bhp 160SR is competent enough, but somewhat out of its depth around Cadwell. The same, though, could surely be said about its rivals. On the A- and B-roads that surround the track, it’s a rather different story. Out here, the Micra is really convincing. Its engine is enthusiastic, its five-speed ‘box is light, not particularly short in throw, but positive and accurate. The steering, more weighty than standard, has decent feel, while the chassis is stiff, composed and agile, but not harsh. It’s genuinely good fun, in fact.Granted, perhaps the 160SR is not quite as entertaining as a Mini Cooper, but it still has an ace or four up its sleeve there too. It’s not cramped, is extremely well equipped, insurance is group six and it costs less than £10,000. So if you’re after an affordable, good fun, well-equipped and practical lukewarm hatch, this is probably it. But perhaps not for track days.

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