Nissan Micra hatchback (2016 - ) review
If you’re in the market for a smart and stylish supermini, and masses of space isn’t a priority, the Micra is certainly worth a look.
Interested in buying a Nissan Micra?
How good does it look?
Compared to the Noddy Car looks of previous Micras, the latest car is an absolute showstopper. Along with a sweeping roof line, a heavily stylised grille and a
prominent character line running from front to rear, the Micra looks every inch the 21st century supermini. The Micra comes on 15- or 16-inch wheels as standard, and there’s also a range of bigger 17-inch optional wheels to enhance the styling, but we’d suggest a test drive first, as these have an impact on ride comfort. Nissan is also keen to push the personalisation theme with the new Micra, offering a host of colour combinations, contrasting bumper inserts and stickers, both inside and out.
What's the interior like?
Whether you do a lot of miles or not, your driving position is crucial, and this is something the Micra does particularly well. The seats are impressively supportive, and there’s plenty of two-way steering wheel adjustment, so most folk will have relatively little bother finding a comfortable driving position. The pedals are just a smidgen off-set, but overall, it’s a very comfortable layout and there’s loads of space to rest your left foot; much more than you get in a Ford Fiesta. The interior also looks pretty stylish at first glance, with a mixture of textures and finishes that keeps things interesting. Many of the surfaces in your eyeline look pretty good for quality, too, although on closer inspection, many aren’t quite so lustrous as they first appear, and you’ll quickly find other surfaces that are rather hard and scratchy. The rear door trims are particularly disappointing on that score. The touch-screen infotainment system works ok, but unless you go for one of the top trim levels, the functionality it offers is pretty basic.
How practical is it?
Getting your youngsters in and out of the back of the Micra is something you’ll need to supervise, as the hidden door handles – so beloved of designers but not ergonomists – are sited too high for small children to reach. Once in the back, head-room is severely compromised by the Micra’s sloping roofline, and because the roof also curves downwards at the sides of the car, it’s easy to bash your noggin getting in or out, or if your driver takes a corner too quickly. Rear legroom, too, is on the snug side. That said, if you only use the rear seats to fling your shopping on, or to accommodate a child seat, you’ll have few complaints. At 300 litres, the boot isn’t exactly enormous, but that’s still a few litres more than you get in a Fiesta. All Micras come with a simple fixed rear seat base and a backrest that splits and folds 60/40; although, as is the case with almost every rival, dropping the backrest leaves a big step up from the boot floor.
What's it like to drive?
The Micra is a breeze to drive thanks to the light actions of its steering, clutch and gearshift. They may lack the ultimate precision of those found in a Ford Fiesta, but it’s a testament to Nissan’s engineers that they are better than the rather rubbery components found in the Renault Clio, with which it shares many of its oily bits. The suspension is a little bit less successful. There’s a firm edge to the ride in all situations, giving the car a jittery feel for too much of the time, meaning many supermini rivals are a good deal comfier. That does mean the car resists body lean fairly well in bends, but it’s still not a particularly nimble-feeling car because grip is limited and the steering feels remote.
How powerful is it?
The Micra is available with three engines, two petrol and one diesel. The entry-level petrol car has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine delivering a modest 71 horsepower, and it’s pretty darned slow. The pickup feels lazy at the bottom of the rev range, and although it does get stronger as you work it harder, the power delivery stutters as the revs climb, and the engine takes so long to build revs that you’re always left waiting for it to deliver an amount of urge that reflects the amount of pressure you’re putting on the throttle pedal. It also means that, once the revs have built, you’re reluctant to let them drop in case you get left in the doldrums again, meaning that the engine spends a lot of its time buzzing away noisily. The more powerful option, a turbocharged 0.9-litre with 90 horsepower, is faster, but the power delivery is still far from ideal. Again, things feel decidedly sluggish at low revs, but when the turbo does decide to spin up, it does so all at once, causing the power to surge in a rather untidy manner. Consequently, even when you just want to motor along at a leisurely cruise, you find yourself on-and-off the gas pedal like a church organist. The 1.5-litre diesel generates the same power as the more powerful petrol, but it produces a good deal more low-end pull, so it’s generally a stronger, more flexible performer.
How much will it cost me?
The Micra has always been an easy car to own, that’s cheap to buy and run, and the latest model follows this trend. The best seller is the turbocharged three-cylinder 0.9-litre model, and it offers decent – rather than sensational – economy, returning 61mpg according to the official figures, while emitting 104g/km CO2. Those wanting the ultimate in economy may wish to go for the 1.5-litre diesel, which promises 88mpg while producing only 85g/km of CO2, but it’s a good deal more expensive to buy than the petrol car, so you’ll really need to be banging in the miles to justify the additional purchase price.
Micras with the 71 horsepower, 1.0-litre engine have the added bonus of being some of the cheapest cars to insure that you can buy.
How reliable is it?
Nissan has an impressive record when it comes to building solid, reliable vehicles, and the company currently enjoys a reasonably high standing in Warranty Direct’s league table of manufacturers. Although the Micra comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, this is made to look quite stingy compared to the seven-year/100,000-mile warranty offered by Kia on its Picanto and Rio models, while Toyota offers a five-year/100,000-mile warranty on its Yaris supermini.
How safe is it?
There's lots of safety technology fitted as standard to all models. Driver, passenger, side and curtain airbags are standard, as is tyre pressure monitoring, hill start assist, and high beam assist. On top of this, lane-keeping assistance (which helps steer you back in your lane should you be distracted and drift out of it), as well as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection (which will automatically bring the Micra to a stop if it detects a likely collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian), are all part and parcel of the Micra’s make-up. However, as not all versions of the Micra across Europe come with autonomous emergency braking as standard, it scored only four stars in crash testing by safety organisation Euro NCAP in 2017. Cars fitted with the technology, however, get the full five out of five.
How much equipment do I get?
The equipment in base model cars is pretty spartan and you’ll have to go for at least a Visia+ model to get air-conditioning. The Acenta car, meanwhile, comes with cruise control, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, and a seven-inch colour screen in the centre of the dashboard, which offers Bluetooth connection and support for Apple CarPlay, as well as providing support for your phone’s apps. However, it’s a pretty glaring omission that this version doesn’t get DAB radio. You have to step up to N-Connecta grade for this, and it also gives you alloys, a leather steering wheel, ambient lighting, sat-nav and automatic air-con. Range-topping Tekna trim adds keyless-go, and upgraded audio system and rear parking sensors complete with camera. Nissan is also keen to push the personalisation theme with the new Micra, offering lots of colour combinations, and contrasting bumper inserts and stickers, both inside and out. If you fancy a bells-and-whistles Tekna model, you can even specify some natty sports seats that come complete with Bose speakers built into the front headrests.
The Micra is a decent car, but it competes in a class that’s jam-packed full of really, really good ones. It’s not as good to drive, as high in quality, as practical nor as sophisticated as the best superminis, and for that reason, it can’t trouble the class-leaders for all-round ability. That said, it is very stylish, it’s easy to live with, and it’s affordable to buy and run, so it does still have plenty in its favour.