From £11,9957
Nissan plugs the gap in its Micra range with a naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol engine, but is it good enough to unseat the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo equivalents?
15 December 2017

What is it?

Not often does a car maker give the lowliest model in a line-up its own international launch, but such an honour was recently bestowed on the Nissan Micra.

The engine in question is a new 70bhp 1.0-litre petrol. It joins the existing 0.9-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel engines, both touting 89bhp, but bucks the trend of an entire industry and forgoes turbocharging in order to cut costs.

It is an important development for the Micra. With the supermini segment so fiercely competitive, every penny counts. By opting for the naturally aspirated engine instead of its turbocharged petrol sibling, you’ll save just under a thousand pounds – a decent portion of the overall price at this level.

Offering a cheaper engine also addresses a fundamental problem Nissan has had with the Micra; until now, the range was undercut by both the Ford Fiesta and – our class leader – Seat Ibiza. Starting at just £11,995, this new model now undercuts those rivals in their most anaemic forms and it’s also the cheapest car to insure in its class, claims Nissan.

What's it like?

We like the fifth-generation Micra and praised the reinvigorated design, well-rounded driving dynamics and high equipment levels when the car was subjected to a full Autocar road test. The performance of our turbocharged test car was not, alas, its most stellar characteristic – and that remains the case with this new motor.

A solitary litre of displacement is so very little for a naturally aspirated engine and makes for a narrow remit. With neither the propulsive punch required to feel comfortable on motorways – where it quickly throws in the towel in the fight against wind resistance – nor the low-down torque to pull readily off the mark on city streets, the 1.0-litre Micra is at its best when the journey demands only steady, uninterrupted progress and middling speeds.

Find yourself in such circumstances and the engine is nicely refined and also adequately potent once you’ve adapted your style to momentum-conservation mode. The throw of the five-speed manual gearbox is light and well defined, so it’s no chore to keep the engine at or around 3500rpm, where it makes most torque.

Peak power arrives only at 6300rpm, however, and stoking this engine to such heights isn’t a particularly serene or fruitful experience. As such, overtakes must be prepared well in advance, with diligence paid to the topography of the road and, indeed, the amount of road you’ve got to play with.

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Should I buy one?

If the 0.9-litre petrol engine – complete with turbo – is not prohibitively expensive for you to buy or insure, that’s the better bet. It offers the more complete driving experience, alleviating some of frustrations that come with revving the pants off a small naturally aspirated motor for next to no reward.

However, the more powerful Micra’s asking price of £13,915 means it falls into the clutches of the compelling Ibiza and Fiesta - and that can’t be said for this 1.0-litre version. It means that if your driving habits demand little in the way of performance, then this entry-level Micra could be a bargain worth investigating. 

Nissan Micra 1.0 71PS

Where Paris, France On sale Now Price £14,145 Engine 3 cyls, 998cc, petrol Power 70bhp at 6300rpm Torque 70lb ft at 3500rpm Gearbox 5-spd manual Kerb weight 1037kg Top speed 98mph 0-62mph 16.4sec Fuel economy 61.4mpg CO2 rating 103g/km Rivals Ford Fiesta 1.1, Volkswagen Polo 1.0, Seat Ibiza 1.0 MPI

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Comments
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xxxx 16 December 2017

Think about promotion Mr Nissan

Why did Nissan let Autocar test this underpowered version when for less than a £1000 (7%?) more, which you'd get back anyway, you could have the Turbo'd engine??? Crazy

Either way a Suzuki Baleno SZ-T beats it on value. £13,000 (current promotion price) with Sat Nav,HID, adaptive cruise, Camera and a proper Turbo'd

BeamMeUpScotty 16 December 2017

True, the cool design...

...is the number one factor in the favor of this new Micra.

Not knowing yet its sales numbers, I still think that the japanese-french constructor should have been much more careful with:

1. the chassis fine tuning -- because the results at the moose tests (avoiding obstacles) are almost disastruos

2. the (now too limited) offer of engines 

Spanner 16 December 2017

Note for designers 2

All sarcasm aside. the interior looks pretty good, and the pictures seems to show a far more appealing design than previous incarnations. Quite a good effort. 

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