The Nissan Micra is a supermini offering low running costs but in most other areas is below the class average
First DriveA facelift for the fourth-generation Nissan Micra still can't gloss over the fact that it looks and feels like a car built for developing markets
First DriveA clever Miller cycle, supercharged three cylinder add low emission zest and efficiency to this otherwise disappointing new-gen Micra
What is it?
The latest Micra has not exactly advanced the frontiers of supermini style and technology, and in some areas has actually retreated from them. But, the bizarrely named Micra DIG-S Pure Drive (Direct Injection Gasoline-Supercharged; Pure Drive is Nissan’s eco label) presents much new technology with its supercharged version of the three cylinder, 79bhp 1.2 litre engine.
What’s it like?
While the boosting is about improving performance - the sprint to 62mph falls from 13.7sec to 11.3sec – its main mission is to improve consumption and emissions, which fall from 56.5mpg and 115g/km to 68.9mpg and 99g/km, an impressive gain given its extra zip.
The surprise is the choice of what is usually an energy-sapping supercharger to boost economy, but it was selected because it’s easy to decouple, a tweak that in combination with twin cam variable valve timing, allows the engine to run the more efficient Miller cycle at low revs without counterproductive interference from the supercharger, and a boosted Otto cycle at higher revs and under load. Direct injection, 23 per cent less internal friction, an intelligent alternator, stop-start, aero mods and low-rolling resistance tyres all heighten the car’s fuel-paring capabilities too.
Nissan is positioning the DIG-S as a diesel alternative that comes close to offering the same economy, is faster and costs less. And this is quite an engaging engine, its subtle but keen warble serving a useful power crescendo once you’ve built a head of revs. The stop-start is reasonably unobtrusive and the engine a quiet cruiser, but don’t expect diesel-like, torquey low rev surges, blower or not – this is an eco set-up, and you’ll need revs to exploit the lightly entertaining handling.
Should I buy one?
This is the least disappointing iteration of a Micra that otherwise trails with its dated, plasticy interior, excess wind noise and forgettable styling.
Nissan Micra DIG-S Pure Drive
Price: £11-15,000; Top speed: 112mph; 0-62mph: 11.3sec; Economy: 68.9mpg combined; Co2: 95g/km; Kerbweight: 980kg; Engine: four cyl in-line, 1198cc; Power: 97bhp at 5600rpm; Torque: 105lb ft at 4400rpm; Gearbox: 5-spd manual