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Diesel power makes the Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi frugal, but it doesn’t drive quite as sweetly as our preferred petrol

Our Verdict

Nissan Micra

Has this much-needed reinvention of the Nissan Micra turned it into a real contender once again? And should those who masterminded the Ford Fiesta, Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia be worried?

  • First Drive

    Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi 2017 review

    Diesel power makes the Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi frugal, but it doesn’t drive quite as sweetly as our preferred petrol
  • First Drive

    2017 Nissan Micra IG-T 90 Tekna

    Not quite a class-leading return to form, but a more stylish and tech-savvy kind of Micra than we’ve ever known – and an encouraging one to drive

What is it?

The old Nissan Micra was way off the pace of the modern supermini class. Poor ride quality and handling, a brittle feeling interior and dumpy looks made it hard to recommend to anyone. Thankfully Nissan learned its lesson and has tried much harder with its replacement.

Sharp creases replace cartoon curves on the outside while the interior has a large dose of soft touch plastic and attractive trims. It’s also lower and wider than before in an effort to make it more agile. Benchmarks include the VW Polo, Mazda 2 and our current favourite, the Ford Fiesta.

We’ve already tried Nissan's turbo petrol Micra in the UK, but this is our first chance to try the 1.5-litre dCi on our side of the channel. At the moment, this is the quickest Micra currently on sale, but is it also the most fun?

What's it like?

Not even the best diesel supermini is a particularly refined thing, but the Micra dCi is one of the quietest of its ilk. Fire up the Renault-sourced unit and there’s minimal vibration through the steering wheel. There is some clatter when idling that gets much more noticeable under hard acceleration, but it settles down to a hushed cruise. Thank, in part, the standard acoustic windscreen for that.

With 89bhp, the dCi isn't particularly quick, but the engine does pull cleanly from low rpm and is brisk enough for motorway work. Long gearing means you’re often a ratio lower than feels natural but it does help economy. Going off the trip computer, we saw 50mpg without too much difficulty. As you might expect from an engine 600cc larger than the turbo triple, there’s a good chunk of extra weight over the nose of the car. The good news is that the steering has a bit more weight, if no more feel. The bad is that turn in isn’t quite as immediate, even with the stiffer springs that diesel models are treated to.

That’s not to say it doesn’t ultimately feel agile. With the help of Intelligent Trace Control (small amounts of braking pressure applied to assist turn in), it can cross country surprisingly quickly - grip is good and it resists understeer well. Shockingly, this is a Micra that it's possible to have some fun with

Body control impresses, too. Point the nose at a typically undulating B-road and it fails to become upset by the barrage of bumps that you’ll be facing. You will certainly feel them, though; the ride is firm and gets fidgety over broken asphalt. A quick spin in the petrol highlights how this trait is made worse by the diesel motor.

Pick one of the higher trim levels and you’re treated to an interior that feels a cut above the majority of rivals. The top of the dash is pleasingly soft and there’s plenty of chrome trim. Colourful dash inserts and optional leather effect trims lift things further. All but Visia models get a 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay. This is easy to navigate thanks in part to shortcut buttons surrounding it, but it isn’t the most attractive system out there. Still, it's responsive and the optional Bose stereo is punchy.

Front space is impressive and there are plenty of storage cubbies, although those in the back won’t be quite as impressed; leg room might be good but the sloped roof eats into headroom. Unfortunately, taller adults won’t be happy on anything other than the shortest of journeys.

Should I buy one?

Unless you’re planning on covering huge mileages, we’d suggest that a petrol Micra makes far more sense. It’s cheaper to buy, handles better and is more comfortable over rough roads. In truth, if you must have a diesel supermini, then we’d still suggest looking elsewhere. You’ll be better entertained by a Ford Fiesta while a Skoda Fabia is more comfortable and has far better rear accommodation for lofty individuals.

Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi

Location Sussex Price £17,445; On sale now; Engine Four cylinder, 1461cc, turbodiesel; Power 89bhp at 4000rpm; Torque 162lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox 5-spd manual; Kerb weight 1131kg; 0-62mph 11.9sec; Top speed 111mph; Economy 88.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 85g/km, 20% Rivals Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi, Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI

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Comments
4

JJ

29 March 2017
Reminds me of a chipmunk...

29 March 2017
Autocar recommend a petrol over a Diesel. Whilst on the subject of recommendation this car is only £2,800 less than faster bigger Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI 110 SE Navigation, makes you think!

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

29 March 2017
I can't see many people wanting a diesel supermini, for a car that will spend a lot of its time in town, it's simply the wrong engine choice now with all the restrictions being brought in

Attractive styling, but that boot opening looks a bit narrow

29 March 2017
My Auntie Nel had curtains like that - I wondered where they went. I just rented a 15 year old Mazda Demio in Auckland and its seats looked like new. 230000km and they were still tight.
This Datsun thing looks c**p.

Aussie Rob - a view from down under

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