Nissan Micra hatchback (2010 – ) review
Read the Nissan Micra hatchback (2010 - ) car review by Auto Trader's motoring experts, covering price, specification, running costs, practicality, safety and how it drives.
- Low prices make it good for those on a budget
- Impressive fuel economy and low emissions
- Easy to drive with a good turning circle
- Ride and handling lags behind rivals
- Cabin quality is below par for the class
- Similarly priced rivals are better all-rounders
At a glance
The latest Nissan Micra is a car sold all over the world, which means it needs to appeal to every market with very little modification. That has made the styling appear rather bland and it lacks the distinctive look of most of its rivals. Its large headlights give it a rather doe-eyed face, and the general appearance is simple and inoffensive, if rather bland. You need second-rung trim or higher if you want alloy wheels, a chrome grille trim, a roof spoiler and body-coloured door handles and mirror housings.
This is one of the areas in which the Micra’s budget-car roots are obvious, with the interior feeling very much like it’s been built down to a price. While other hatches in the supermini class – even similarly priced budget models – have some genuinely appealing (and in places, plush) panels, the Micra’s plastics are hard, scratchy and shiny. They don’t just lag behind those of the class leaders, they’re miles behind. The simple dashboard layout means all the functions are easy to find and use, but getting comfortable can be a problem: the steering wheel only adjusts for height and there’s no driver’s seat height adjustment on the most basic model.
The Micra sits at the smaller end of the supermini spectrum and many rivals offer more interior space. Importantly, though, there’s still enough space for four adults to sit in reasonable comfort. Again, the boot can’t match those of many rivals for size, but it’s reasonable at 265 litres, and all models come with back seats that fold down to boost cargo space. However, the rear bench backrest is a one-piece affair in the entry-level car, which limits your options. You have to upgrade to second-rung trim for a split-folding rear seat.
Ride and handling
This is another area in which the Micra feels like it’s been built down to a price: you’ll struggle to detect any engineering flair in the way the car drives. The ride is lumpy and uncomfortable at low speeds and, when you’re going faster, there’s a constant jitter that gets very irritating very quickly. Tackle a bend and you’ll find that the body slops over untidily, while the steering is vague and the front tyres run out of grip rather early. Chuck in the vague, notchy gearshift and there isn’t much to like on the road. The tight turning circle is about the only redeeming feature.
Micra buyers choose from two versions of the same 1.2-litre petrol engine. It’s a three-cylinder unit and, in entry-level form, it produces 79bhp. Obviously, it’s hardly fast, but it’s quite flexible and responsive around town because the lion’s share of the torque sits low in the rev range. It gets a little rowdy when you work it hard but, to be honest, there’s so little extra performance to be gained that there’s simply no point in revving it out. The other version has a supercharger, which helps up the power output to 97bhp. It’s still not quick, but it does feel a little stronger than the other engine in most situations.
Nissan’s ethos of making the Micra cheap transport for a budget price rather falls apart when you look at how much it costs. It’s not actually all that cheap to buy and rather a lot of superior rivals can be had for less cash – in some cases, a lot less. Resale values aren’t particularly strong, either. That said, the Micra will be cheap to run in other ways. Even the grubbiest version will beat 50mpg, while the cleanest supercharged version can achieve an average of around 69mpg.
Nissan has always enjoyed a strong reliability record and the Micra has been associated with durability for a long time. Sure enough, Nissan is currently flying fairly high in the manufacturer rankings on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index website, with the Micra itself delivering a very creditable showing. However, the low-grade cabin materials don’t feel built to last, and the flimsy feel of some panels really doesn’t fill you with confidence.
Happily, all Micras feature the same safety kit, no matter which trim level you opt for. The standard roster includes anti-lock brakes, stability control and six airbags. Not so happily, the Micra has only achieved four out of five stars in Euro NCAP crash tests. The vast majority of cars these days earn the full five stars, including many of the Micra’s supermini rivals.
Entry-level Visia models come with some desirable features, such as electric front windows, remote locking and Bluetooth, but alloys and air-con are missing from the roster. Those boxes are checked by Acenta trim, along with the ones for automatic lights and wipers, cruise control and electric mirrors. Tekna trim adds parking sensors and keyless-go.