Nissan's Micra has been around for decades. Since 1983 in fact, selling over 3.5million in Europe alone during its lifetime. It's a car everyone has heard of, even if not for all the best reasons.
Despite its popularity, the Micra hasn't ever been the most exciting car on the road, at least not for those below certain age. That's about to change though, because 2017 Micra is completely different and it's lovely.
Nissan Micra (2017): Design
Nissan has completely reinvented the Micra in the fifth generation. The new model might carry the same iconic name, but it isn't the Micra as you know it. Instead, the company appears to have scrapped everything except the name to deliver a Micra with a much wider appeal. Sorry grandma, but the Nissan Micra is no longer all about you.
Moving away from the small, rounded design, the new Micra has a more serious, sculpted shape that oozes character to deliver a striking finish, especially when customised. The sharp, angular lines look great and the extra 174mm length and 78mm width deliver a more substantial and sturdy body in comparison to the fourth generation. There is also a 55mm reduction in height, making the 2017 Micra one of the lowest in the B-hatchback segment.
Both the front and rear of the new Micra are bold, which will no doubt make this model as recognisable over time as its predecessors. The front has a shortened bonnet to the fourth-gen model with narrower headlights that stretch into the wings to frame the company's V-motion grille, while the rear features boomerang-shaped light clusters and a sculpted bumper that hides the exhaust.
At the back of the sloping roof there is a sports-style spoiler, which comes as standard on all five model grades: Visia, Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna. It has been added for aerodynamic performance but as you would expect, it makes the Micra sportier than it has been in the past and it's a good look, especially combined with the smooth, gliding finish of the roof.
The new Micra is only available as a five-door, but the rear doors feature discrete handles, ensuring the design isn't compromised. The Visia and Visia+ have 15-inch steel wheels with covers, while the Acenta bumps the wheel size up to 16-inches. We drove an N-Connecta, which comes with 16-inch alloy wheels, as well as a Tekna, which has 17-inch alloys as standard.
The 2017 Micra comes in 10 body colours from Echo Grey to Energy Orange, but there are around a hundred options available to make it stand out further. Nissan isn't the first company to dabble with personalisation and it won't be the last, but the various trim and interior material options are a real benefit.
Nissan Micra (2017): Interior and infotainment
Inside the new Micra things get even better. Based around a T-shaped "gliding wing" dashboard, the cabin offers a lovely flow from the handbrake to the chrome-finished door handles. Each of the five grades has a two-tone dash, delivering a premium look and feel throughout. Both our test models had the soft leather option added to the dash, which is only available on the Acenta grade and above, but well worth it.
The leather appears on the seat bolsters, door arm rest, knee pad and instrument panel and it looks great, really great. There are three colour options depending on the grade comprising Powder Blue, Energy Orange and Invigorating Red, all of which make the interior of the Micra really pop, while offering a luxury finish you'd expect to find on significantly more expensive cars.
The Visia+ model has an entry level audio system, while the Acenta grade and above come with a 7-inch Display Audio full-colour touch-screen system Apple's CarPlay as standard. The system is easy to navigate and use, offering quick access to a variety of features through the physical buttons and the touchscreen itself. There is also a 5-inch colour screen situated in the centre of the driver's display between the two dials to provide you with key information from the Display Audio system.
Our test models didn't have CarPlay so we weren't able to use Siri, Apple Maps or access our music when our iPhone was plugged in, but we did experience the Bose Personal audio system, which is a £500 option on the Acenta and N-Connecta grade or standard on the Tekna.
The Bose system consists of six speakers, two of which have been placed into the driver's headrest, designed to deliver a 360-degree personal listening experience. The infotainment system then provides a setting option that allows you to adjust whether the music comes through the headrest or the front doors and A-pillars. The system sounds great, both through the headrest and the front, though we preferred the latter even if through the headrest made it easier to have a conversation with the front passenger.
The new Micra's interior doesn't just look and sound good though, there is also plenty of space and lots of clever storage areas, including a 300-litre boot, 10-litre glove box and a large, flat central console above the gear box that is perfect for placing your smartphone. This central storage also has a USB port and 12V socket, along with ambient lighting, all of which add to the pleasurable experience of the cabin.
Nissan Micra (2017): Experience
The Nissan Micra (2017) is available in three engine choices, all of which are five-speed manual. The 0.9-litre turbo petrol with 90PS has low emissions of 99 CO2 g/km, while the 1.5-litre turbo diesel with 90PS has emissions of 85 CO2 g/km. The third option is a 1.0-litre petrol model, which will be available to order from March 2017 with 73PS, this version lacking a turbo. It will also only be available in the Visia+ and Acenta grades in the UK.
We drove both the turbo petrol and turbo diesel and both models were a pleasure to drive. The diesel is more expensive as is always the way, starting at £14,195 compared to £11,995, but it delivered a smooth and surprisingly quiet experience. The petrol engine seemed to be a little louder in our experience, but still quiet enough.
The diesel accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 11.9 seconds and the petrol in 12.1 seconds so the new Micra is as far from a hot hatch as you'll get. There is still plenty of power though and more than enough to tackle hills without an issue, something the 1.2-litre Fiat 500 Lounge struggles with at times, for example.
The Micra handled and cornered very well, filling us with confidence on the winding mountain roads. Its lower stance makes it a sportier drive than other models, lending some excitement without getting uncomfortable and it felt sturdy and secure, as well as responsive. Nissan has included two technologies called Intelligent Ride Control and Intelligent Trace Control. The latter kicks in when cornering, automatically engaging and adjusting the brakes to ensure an optimal line.
There are several other intelligent technologies available on the new Micra too though, all of which come as standard on the Tekna, but as an option on the other grades. Intelligent Lane Intervention activates if you begin veering out of your lane, individually applying the brakes and vibrating the steering wheel to guide the car back. Intelligent Emergency Braking features pedestrian recognition technology and is designed to avoid impacts or reduce the severity of them, automatically applying the brakes when a situation requires it.
There is also a 360-degree camera system, blind spot warnings on the mirrors, high beam assist and traffic sign recognition, rounding out the convenience features.
The Nissan Micra faces a greater challenge than some of its small car rivals, from the premium go kart experience of the Mini, to the very capable Ford Fiesta and the panache of the Fiat 500, as it has to overcome the stigma of being a boring car.
Nissan has redefined the character of the Mirca in the 2017 model to make it a sportier and more exciting car than it's ever been in the past, which is all evident when you get behind the wheel. It won't appeal to the boy racers of this world, but it has changed our opinion of what the Micra stands for.
The Acenta grade or above is the one to go for, starting at £14,995, and if you can afford it, the leather interior is excellent. Overall, it's a great little car.