As sometimes happens with Japanese cars, different generations of Micras have had bewilderingly different characters. They’ve been cute or boring, elaborate or straightforward… and loved or ignored in Britain. The last one sat at the wrong pole of all those spectra, at least from our perspective. But then it wasn’t designed with us in mind, instead looking to India and Thailand.
The new one was conceived start-to-finish for Europe. So it’s bigger, lower, wider and more interesting to look at and drive. The old one ended life listed from £7,995, and the new starts at £11,995. Nissan is clearly feeling lucky. With justification.
The Micra’s engines are shared with Renault – a 0.9-litre petrol turbo triple, 1.1-litre unblown, or a 1.5-litre 4cyl diesel. The little turbo makes only 95bhp even on overboost, but weight is low and it revs smoothly, so there’s a reasonable life to the acceleration… at least until you hit a motorway headwind.
Cornering and ride call on proprietary algorithms that gently pinch individual brakes to smooth your trace through bends and control pitch. But there’s obviously a sound chassis foundation too. It steers with alacrity and nibbles around the limit with the transparency you want from a small car. The ride, if not luxurious, is well controlled and quiet.
As with its chassis, a supermini’s cabin should be jaunty not luxe. The Micra’s perhaps over-obliges. Those orange pads can also be had in an equally lurid blue. But there are also the greys and blacks everyone will choose. The point is you have the choice – when trying to persuade people to spend upper-teen thousands on a 900cc car, customisation is very much a thing.
The quality justifies the price too. The centre screen is good on connectivity. Better yet is a £500 Bose stereo upgrade, with small speakers in the driver’s headrest for an extraordinarily spacious sound.
More big tech in the driver-assist menu: radar cruise, lane-keeping, pedestrian recognition, blind-spot warning. Nissan wants to sell you an autonomous car sooner than most, and the tech is cascading down.
899cc 3cyl turbo, FWD, 95bhp, 103lb ft
64.2mpg, 99g/km CO2
0-62mph in 12.1secs, 109mph
Cheery, well made, strong on tech and dynamically capable, the MkV Micra returns from the Mk IV’s lost weekend.