What is unusual about the Nissan Micra is that you can’t tell it’s powered by a three-cylinder engine as soon as you fire it into action. By the standards of three-pot engines, it settles into a fairly smooth and muted idle.

You find out soon enough, though. The gearshift and the clutch are as light as you would expect on a car that has clearly been developed for ease of driving – for buyers in many of its intended markets, the Micra will be their first ever car – and with a respectable response to the throttle, the Micra pulls away with a familiar, and not unpleasant, three-cylinder thrum.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Both engines are available with automatic gearboxes

At 1198cc, it has quite a large capacity for a three-pot, which suggests that it might get a little vibey as revs rise. Given that torque out-shouts power (81lb ft and 79bhp on the standard car), it’s tempting not to find out but instead stay in the lower reaches of the rev band and surf the available low-end power.

Do so and you’ll find a level of performance that’s on the sedate side of moderate. The naturally aspirated model’s torque peaks a little higher at 6000rpm, and takes a leisurely 13.7sec to reach 62mph.

The Nissan largely avoids the feeling you get in some low-cylindered cars – the Fiat 500 TwinAir and Toyota iQ spring to mind – that it’s intentionally over-geared to keep the motor speed and noise low and the fuel economy high.

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Work the Micra’s engine, in a manner that we suspect owners rarely will, and although you’re left in no doubt that it would be smoother with the extra cylinder that nearly all its rivals feature, things are less thrummy than they could be.

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