What is it?
Do not adjust your sets, ladies and gentlemen – it really does say ‘Micra’ on the bootlid of the bold- and alluring-looking hatchback you’re looking at. It’s hard to believe, partly because ‘daring looks’ don’t rank among the strengths that this long-lived supermini has built a reputation for over its thirty years on sale. But the fourth-generation Nissan Micra that's now being ushered into the waste paper basket of automotive history was both singularly undesirable and execrable to drive. Micras have not always been thus, but the last one certainly was. The new one, however, is anything but.
So much we already know, of course, after a lengthy drive in a prototype Micra late last year. Now comes the chance to drive the finished car, which arrives in UK showrooms in, wait for it… March (a gag there for anyone who knows what this car is called in many other global markets. Waka waka, how we laughed, ahem).
The new fifth-generation Micra is built on an updated version of the same ‘V-platform’ that underpinned the last version but has undergone radical change under the skin; major mechanicals shared between the last Micra and the new one number only the engine mountings and the relative location of the car’s pedals, some of the suspension components and the fuel tank. The new Micra has a power steering system derived from that of the Nissan Qashqai, a completely reconfigured chassis, wider axle tracks, a lower centre of gravity, all-new seats and interior, and a choice of engines and transmissions sourced from alliance partner Renault. For now, the most powerful of those engines is the 898cc turbo petrol three-pot that also serves in the Renault Clio and Twingo, producing up to 94bhp and 111lb ft of torque on overboost.
Now built in a Renault factory in France and developed for the most part at Cranfield, UK, the new Micra is out to prove that it can represent the sub-compact car as only Europe knows how to make it. Among the segment-firsts it brings to the table are a camera-based active lane keeping system, ‘around-view’ parking cameras and an innovative premium audio system from BOSE with near-field speakers housed in the driver’s head restraint.
And for those more interested in the driving experience, this is a car benchmarked against the very best in the class – and which, on this evidence, won't give the likes of the Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta and Mazda 2 an easy time when push comes to shove on UK roads.