Micra is supermini, but big at heart

Micra is supermini, but big at heart

The Japanese firm have high hopes for the supermini, which lost its way somewhat with the previous model. Now the fifth generation of the car, first launched in 1983, is aiming to rule the sector in the same way Nissan Qashqai ‘bigger brother’ has triumphed.

Where once the Micra was synonymous with leading the fiercely competitive B-sector segment, it is now aiming to get back in the top 10. Before now, the new Micra is the fifth generation of a model that once ruled the supermini sector

The previous model was designed and built as a global car and had light improvements for the European market when shipped from India. The latest model is being built by the Nissan Alliance partner Renault at their factory outside Paris.

From first appearances, it is obvious the new Micra means business. It looks scalpel sharp with a dramatic wavy swage line cutting its way up along the flanks. Benchmarks for the latest model are for it to have the best handling, interior styling and on-board tech.

The sharp angular headlights and boomerang rear light cluster are accompanied by an in-vogue floating roof design, achieved with blacked-out B and C pillars.

Inside-out, Micra’s redesign has produced a model that it longer, wider and lower, giving has given it an immediate and positive effect on the handling and interior space.

While still just less than 4m in length, driver and front seat space is sufficient for even the tallest driver, complemented with the rear seats that are big enough to accommodate more than just children.

From launch, there will be two engines, both downsized from before, but turbo-charged and putting out 89bhp. One is a 1.5 litre diesel that does 0-60mph in 11.9 seconds and a top speed of 111mph. Buyers get choice of either 0.9 litre petrol or a 1.5 litre diesel

On the road, its handling has been set up to be more suited to sporty driving than comfort. Therefore, it may appeal more to the teenage driver than the pensioner but is far from uncomfortable. Ride is firm, but handling is among leaders in class.

The sound deadening and quiet ride are impressive for a small car and capable of providing a relaxing drive. It has been packed with driving technology not normally found in a car of this class, aimed at giving confident and predictable handling.

Nissan Micra’s Active Trace Control (ATC) is programmed to work when cornering forces exceed 0.4g whereupon it breaks individual wheels to keep the intended line. Sharp design details include new boomerang rear light cluster

To counteract excessive force and after pitch, there is Active Ride Control which again uses the brakes to stabilise the ride after going over a big bump or speed hump. Two-tone cabin is standard in all cars – but does not have to be in orange.

The brain behind the small car with big hearts has prioritized occupants safety with kit usually found on bigger cars that has filtered down to the Micra. These include Intelligent Lane Intervention which vibrates the wheel and tugs it back to keep the car in lane.

More useful is the Intelligent Emergency Braking system with Pedestrian Detection which automatically deploys the brakes the driver is about to hit anything. Or at least reduce the impact.

In terms of entertainment, the top two levels have a central 7-inch touch screen infotainment display which comes with Apple CarPlay as standard. This can be enjoyed through the innovative BOSE Personal premium audio system, which uses two speakers located in the driver’s head rest to provide a 360˚ sound field.

In summary, improvements are clear over the old car and the engineers have succeeded in injecting some of the fun of a Fiesta in with the build quality of the Polo. The new Nissan Micra goes on sale in March and it is back in the game as a serious contender for your cash.

MIKE OCHONMA

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