Nissan Micra hatchback (2017 - ) 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 much more sleek and modern. 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. Nissan is 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.
There are six trim levels to choose from, starting with Visia, which rides on 15-inch steel wheels. The Visia+ is visually identical, but Acenta upgrades to 16-inch alloy wheels.
The N-Sport model is based on the Acenta trim, but sits lower on sports suspension and has 17-inch alloys and some black and carbon fibre-effect touches to the bodywork.
The N-Connecta has similar looks to the Acenta but includes rear privacy glass, while the top-of-the-range Tekna sits on 17-inch wheels.
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 people will have relatively little bother finding a comfortable driving position. The pedals are just a smidgen offset, 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 you’ll quickly find other surfaces that are rather hard and scratchy. In fairness though, there are rivals that you could say that about as well.
The Nissan Connect infotainment system, which was introduced to the Micra in mid-2018, is an improvement over the rather lacklustre system that was included before. It features plenty of customisable options, and while we’ve found it a bit tricky to navigate initially, we suspect it’ll be easier once you have everything set up as you want it. We also like the combination of a touchscreen, which you can pinch and swipe like a smartphone, and buttons and dials that make it simple to jump between different screens.
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, headroom 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.
Those with sensitive derrieres may notice a firm edge to the ride, and there are comfier supermini rivals out there, but to call it uncomfortable would be harsh. 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.
N-Sport cars get a lower, stiffer suspension set up that improves the handling, although it’s still some way short of the Fiesta. But it doesn’t overly compromise ride quality, and remains comfortable for all.
How powerful is it?
At launch, the Micra was available with two petrol engines and a diesel, but the line-up changed slightly in early 2019.
The entry-level petrol car has a 1.0-litre three-cylinder engine delivering a modest 71 horsepower, and it’s pretty darned slow and needs working hard, meaning it’s noisy too. A more powerful option, a turbocharged 0.9-litre with 90 horsepower, was also available, but still felt sluggish.
In 2019, Nissan replaced it with a new 1.0-litre turbocharged engine with 100 horsepower, which is better. It’s just about powerful enough to cope with everyday driving, and as well as the standard five-speed manual gearbox, it comes with the option of an automatic. To get technical, it’s a continuously variable transmission (CVT) rather than a traditional auto gearbox, and while Nissan has engineered it to mimic a regular auto – with limited success – it still sends the revs sky high on harder acceleration, which is an inherent characteristic of a CVT. It works, but it can be rather unappealing.
Nissan also brought in a more powerful 1.0-litre turbo engine with 117 horsepower and a six-speed manual gearbox. It adds a bit more zing to proceedings, and is decently smooth in its power delivery, although it’s some way short of being a hot or even warm hatch.
The 1.5-litre diesel generates 90 horsepower, but it produces a good amount of low-end pull, so it’s generally a stronger, more flexible performer.
How much will it cost me?
The Micra is priced very similarly to rivals like the Ford Fiesta and Toyota Yaris, although the Ford is likely to hold onto its value slightly better. The Nissan’s new 1.0-litre, 100 horsepower engine should be pretty fuel efficient, which will give it an edge over several years of ownership, although it might be slightly more expensive to service, maintain and repair than the Fiesta. The Micra also sits in a lower insurance group than these rivals. We reckon when it comes to overall running costs, the Fiesta may just have the edge, but the Micra isn’t far behind.
How reliable is it?
Nissan has an excellent reputation for reliability, and one that’s reflected in its placing in the 2018 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, where it was fifth of all the mainstream 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.
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. But cars fitted with the technology, however, get the full five out of five, and all of the cars sold in the UK fall into this category.
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, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and DAB digital radio.
The N-Sport model has part leather and Alcantara upholstery, interior chrome door handles, silver decoration on the gear knob, steering wheel and air vents, sporty-looking touches including floor mats, arm rest, panels and vents, a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors, as well as keyless entry and start.
The N-Connecta model is a sideways step from this, and upgrades from the Acenta with a fancier sat-nav system with live traffic information, as well as automatic air conditioning and rear electric windows.
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 get some fancy seats that come complete with Bose speakers built into the front headrests, as well as keyless entry and start, a rear-view camera and rear parking sensors.
The Micra is a car that will appeal to a wide cross-section of potential customers. It’s got snazzy looks, good safety standards and it’s easy to drive with a range of trim levels to suit different budgets. The latest engines improve performance and make it even more appealing.