Outwardly, the N-Sport differs little from any other Micra – but, given the K14-generation model rewrote the Micra style book (sharpening the pudgy proportions while increasing both its height and length) and this latest version is a mere refresh, wholesale changes were never expected. Visual alterations are instead largely limited to carbonfibre-style finishing on the wheels and door mirrors, along with gloss-black bumper inserts, and the five-door Micra continues to disguise its rear doors by integrating its handles into the C-pillar trim.
Nissan’s engineers cannot be accused of sitting on their hands, however, because underneath the bonnet sits an all-new engine that makes this N-Sport the most powerful Micra yet. Admittedly, this is in the same vein as being the most practical Lamborghini, or the fastest snowplough, but in the context of a front-driven supermini that tips the scales at less than a tonne, 115bhp nevertheless seems promising.
An over-square three-cylinder turbocharged petrol, this 1.0-litre DIG-T unit uses a compact ‘delta’ cylinder head and spray coating for the cylinder bores (molten iron instead of solid, and far thicker, cast-iron liners), while the turbo benefits from electric actuators. Compared with the old 0.9-litre petrol, there’s also direct fuel injection, variable valve timing for intake and exhaust and a higher compression ratio, though this trio of technologies is found on the lesser – but also new, and similarly sized – 99bhp IG-T engine too. The resulting 133lb ft from 1750rpm, with 15lb ft of overboost, pushes the N-Sport into ‘warm’ supermini territory, joining the Volkswagen Up GTI, Suzuki Swift Sport and Ford Fiesta ST-Line.
The aesthetic additions N-Sport trim brings can be optioned for any 1.0-litre Micra, though the most powerful version uniquely benefits from chassis tweaks to improve the driving experience. The suspension – passively damped, and using the same MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear architecture as any other Micra in the range – sits the car 10mm lower with firmer spring rates for greater body control.
The electromechanical steering is also lighter and quicker, to impart a greater feeling of agility, though where most rivals have moved to better-performing discs, the rear is still braked using drums. Meanwhile, though the 99bhp Micra is offered with manual and CVT transmissions, only a six-speed manual is available for this 115bhp version.