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This is the new Nissan Micra

Pointy new Micra makes its Paris Motor Show debut

 

In the UK at least, it seems like the Nissan Micra is seldom bought by anyone not yet eligible for their pensioners’ bus pass. But this new one, revealed at today’s Paris Motor Show, might change things. Nissan says it represents a “complete redefinition of what Micra means”. Good.

The styling, previewed by last year’s Sway Concept, will no doubt divide opinion. There’s quite a lot going on, emphasised by that aggressive wave-form line that swoops from the headlight, up to the A-pillar and then sharply down underneath the wing mirror to the back. The roof is separated over the kicked-up rear pillar.

But the visual impression isn’t a result only of the stylists’ lines. It’s also a very differently proportioned car. The old one was short narrow and high. This is 3.999m long, bang on what supermini buyers expect. It’s about the widest supermini out there, and among the lowest.

The length gives it space and road presence, the width gives it good handling and decent shoulder room, and the lowness means reduced drag and better fuel economy.

The cabin features a big 7in display with Apple Car Play and a fancy wraparound Bose stereo with speakers in the driver’s headrest to cocoon you into your choons.

But most striking of all is the leap ahead in interior materials. Surfaces are soft-touch, textures interesting, colours bright (and there’s lots of choice). The designer smiled and told TopGear.com that it costs Nissan money, but is worth it. That sort of approach reminds us of the progress Toyota has made with the C-HR.

Also like the Toyota, Nissan is cascading its safety tech into the small car arena. The Micra gets, as standard across the range, lane departure prevention and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian recognition. Also on the menu are around-view cameras, full LED headlamps, traffic sign recognition, and blind spot warning systems.

Power comes from a 0.9-litre three-cylinder turbo making 89bhp, or a similarly powerful 1.5-litre four-cylinder diesel. A naturally aspirated 1.0-litre petrol will join the line-up soon after launch.

Active Ride Control (ARC) and Active Trace Control (ATC) – borrowed from the Qashqai and X-Trail – promise better handling and a more comfortable ride. ARC uses the engine and individual brakes, rather than any kind of active damping, to smoothen the ride. ATC also nips at the brakes, this time to trim your line through a bend and minimise understeer. This is something we’re more than happy to test.

The old Micra was built in India and wasn’t designed with European demands in mind. The new one definitely is. We are the buyers Nissan primarily wants. It’s being built at a Renault plant in France, though it doesn’t use a Renault platform: the structure and undercarriage are all-Nissan. Only the engines and transmissions are shared across the Alliance.

Sales start in March, and there are no prices nor performance figures for it yet. The existing Micra is the odd one out of Nissan’s range, the one that really isn’t very good. Looks notwithstanding, we hope this one changes things.

 

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