Europe’s lucrative market for superminis doesn’t owe Nissan anything – after the past seven years, the company has learned that the hard way – but it’s certainly receptive to stylish, contemporary, well-equipped, rounded cars like this new Micra.

Having plainly now banished the memory of its dowdy early years, this car has it all to do to retain owners of the outgoing model.

A return to form: old strengths recovered and a few new ones gained

There has never been wider choice for those with a typical supermini budget than there is now. But with its high-end equipment features, dashing looks and mature dynamic finish, the Micra is well placed to compete with premium-brand offerings as well as its mainstream rivals.

Where it is weak – it doesn’t have a stellar engine, it’s not the most practical car in the class and it’s not a brilliantly compelling bargain – it leaves just enough room to doubt that it’ll propel Nissan back to the very top of the European sales charts.

But that it’ll do much better than its predecessor is an absolute given. The Micra may not be great again just yet – but it’s back on the right track.

That is why the new Micra makes its way into our top five, but overall lacks the polish of the Mazda 2, the Mini Cooperthe new Ford Fiesta and - the latest class-leader- the Seat Ibiza have in abundance.