The new Nissan Micra was revealed at the Paris Motor Show last week, with Nissan claiming it will “raise expectations” of what a supermini is capable of. Designed with European buyers in mind, it’s tasked with righting the wrongs of the current car when it goes on sale at the start of 2017.
It’s the first Micra to be launched on a new platform since 2003, and aims to tackle the Ford Fiesta head-on. “The fifth-generation Micra shows our intent to compete at the top of Europe’s B-segment market – the largest and most competitive B-segment market in the world,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
The exterior design is heavily inspired by the Sway concept seen at 2015’s Geneva Motor Show. It’s longer, wider and lower than before, with swept-back headlamps and a new take on the brand‘s ‘V-motion‘ grille. Striking shoulder lines, a steeply raked windscreen, a ‘floating’ roof‘ and boomerang-shaped tail-lamps mark it out, while Nissan promises vivid exterior colours and lots of scope for personalisation. The shape is impressively aerodynamic, too, with a figure of 0.29Cd.
The new Micra shares its platform with the Renault Clio. It’s even built in the same factory as its rival, in Elins, France. The next Nissan Juke will also use this platform.
While the outgoing Micra straddles the city car and supermini segments in terms of size, this car will aim to be as roomy as a Vauxhall Corsa. Plus, it’s set to offer a lower, sportier driving position. There’s also a seven-inch infotainment touchscreen, with Apple CarPlay and a bespoke BOSE audio system.
Advanced safety tech includes class-first lane departure prevention, plus autonomous braking, the brand’s Around View Monitor, traffic sign recognition, high-beam assist and blind spot warning. In addition, the Micra’s chassis has been set up to offer far sharper handling than before. Electric power-steering has been tuned for greater response, plus there’s been a focus on reducing cabin noise.
Just two engines will be offered at launch: a Renault sourced 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol and a 1.5 four-cylinder diesel. Both produce 89bhp. A naturally aspirated 75bhp l.0-litre will follow, with more potent turbos expected later in the year. Efficiency and performance figures have yet to be released. Don’t rule out a hybrid, plus there’s potential for a Nismo-tuned 190bhp Micra.
“The diesel is extremely quiet; it’s vying for top honours on refinement”
The Japanese brand has repositioned the Micra as a proper supermini, so unlike its smaller predecessor, this fifth-generation Micra is comparable to a Renault Clio in size. This means it’s much more practical, but Nissan is keen to point out that the new Micra will appeal to young buyers wanting style and comfort as much as those after space. It feels more grown-up to drive than before – we tested the 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel and 0.9-litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol, which both produce 89bhp.
The diesel in particular is extremely quiet, to the point where even in 95 per cent-finished prototype form it’s vying for top honours in terms of refinement. It feels fast enough, with decent pull from low down on the move thanks to 220Nm of torque, but the impressive thing is how Nissan has insulated that engine noise from the cabin.
There is more final calibration work to be done on the 0.9 petrol we drove, and it didn‘t feel quite as refined as the diesel, but given the growth in size, there was enough performance available with either engine.
The Micra’s damping is plush, with a quality feel to the way the car rode our washboard test route. However, this softer side means it isn’t the most agile in its class.
It would be unfair to rate the new Micra on an early prototype drive, but the signs are strong. Its impressive refinement, smooth ride and styling mean it should be true class contender.
Price: £ 14,500 (est)
Engine: 1.5-litre 4cyl turbodiesel
Transmission: Five-speed manual, front-wheel drive
0-62mph: 12 seconds (est)
On sale: Early 2017