2017 Nissan Micra First Drive
A fresh start for the Micra. A huge step on from the dull and under-equipped old one, the new Micra has flair in its design, a raft of tech, and brings some fun to the driving. That means it’s more expensive than before, but it’s competitive with rivals it couldn’t have looked in the eye previously, such as the Polo. Lots of colour and sticker custom options are as expected in this class nowadays, though you can also spec plain shades and more sober interiors.
There’s less choice on engines – two petrols and a diesel – but they hit the spot. Transmission is five-speed manual only, and body five-door hatch only.
The main engine is a 0.9-litre turbo triple, making 90bhp but feeling more because it has 5bhp of overboost and it’s pulling a light car. It’s sweet-sounding and happy to pull well beyond 6000rpm. The Micra cruises easily at normal motorway speed, but it will ultimately run out of puff if you want to move into the outside lane on a steep uphill. The diesel engine, also 90bhp, is torquier and has a bit more in reserve. Even so, you’ll buy it for its useful economy advantage, not that small performance leg-up. It’s noisier than the petrols, but still quiet by small-car diesel standards.
You don’t feel the extra nose weight of the diesel, and both corner enthusiastically, avoiding understeer. Steering responses and roll angles are nicely in sync with one another, and there’s some steering feel too. It’s confident and deft. For a small car it’s also pretty good at staying true over cambers and offset bumps.