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The Top Gear car review: Nissan Micra
For:It does most things you need it to
Against:Offering no diesel is a wing-clipper
1.2 DiG-S Visia 5dr [AC]
A new grown-up look for the old-timer, but there are far better and more interesting budget superminis out there these days.
Forget that the Micra is an aesthetic disaster zone, and concentrate on the new 3cyl engine
More commonly seen with a Hertz or Motability sticker adorning its back window, the Nissan Micra ranks as a top contender for the most improbable...
What we say:
Sensible, safe and seriously good value - Micra ticks all the boxes... except the ones marked cool
What is it?
Nissan’s global supermini has always struggled to find its feel in the UK. Which is a shame because, peculiar styling notwithstanding, this is a good little car for the money that has been superbly banged together. Bullet-proof reliability and lots of practicality, however, cannot really make up for the below par driving characteristics and strangely indifferent new look to a once enjoyably distinctive car. It’s affordable, unthreatening stuff, but comfortably outclassed by the Ford Fiesta.
The latest Micra feels like it has gone off the boil a bit. The steering is well enough weighted still, but there’s body roll aplenty thanks to soft suspension and that tall roofline. It rides OK in a segment full of cars that don’t soak up bumps with the aplomb of larger vehicles but it struggles more than some to feel composed at speed, making the occasional bigger trip a bit of a worry. Another reason for our reserve on that score is there’s now only one engine option, and that’s a 1.2-litre in various states of tune. Although they all do the city run-around duty with typical Nissan-ish assurance, the lower powered versions can feel quite stretched at proper speed. Plus, even though diesel superminis are still a relative rarity, Nissan could really do with offering one.
It’s not flash, it’s not fast, it’s not fun. It’s the ideal first car then.
On the inside
The Micra’s cabin is very well made, as you’d expect from Nissan, with solid materials reassuringly finished to create the impression of a car far more expensive than it actually is. But it’s no longer as big inside as some of its rivals, and although two adults can still sit in the back in reasonable comfort, the boot is small and split/folding seats aren’t standard. It’s tough for taller drivers to get comfy too, with entry-level cars getting no height adjustment on the seat.
This further impresses upon us a growing suspicion that this car is only going to strike a chord with 17- year olds who’ve just passed their test. And even them begrudgingly. It’s neither sexy nor cool, this new Nissan Micra.
It’s not going to break the bank to buy and run a Micra. It’s so inherently unsporty to behold and
the standard 80bhp 1.2-litre three- pot can’t pass 60mph in less than 13 seconds, so insurers will look fondly upon it. The slowest 0-60mph time is the CVT 1.2 in 14.5 seconds.
Reliability is also likely to be excellent, as is fuel economy and emissions ratings for tax. There is nothing whatsoever to get excited about with a Micra, but that in itself could be a real incentive for worried parents tearing up L-plates.