Road Test: Nissan Micra Tekna IG-T 90
Nissan’s reinvigorated supermini is a Micra only by name, explains Alex Grant.
SECTOR Supermini PRICE £17,735 FUEL 61.4mpg CO2 104g/km
Generational upgrades don’t come much more dramatic than the latest Micra. It’s a jump as significant as the staid Escort making way for the Focus back in 1998 – but, unlike Ford, Nissan has chosen to keep the old name. A double-edged sword, considering nothing else has been carried forward.
It needed a fresh start. After all, this sort of athletic styling has never held the Fiesta back from attracting a broad customer base. Despite the Micra’s longer, lower shape and sharp angles, it’s not so extreme as to alienate existing customers when the wheels are small, and the colours are tame. Moving up into the supermini segment gives it a larger audience, too.
Of course, finding new customers has necessitated some eye-catching styling for the higher-end versions. The Micra has presence in spades, not only due to the bold colour options matched to accents of the seats and dashboard, but with arches filled out by wheels up to 17-inches in diameter once you get up to Tekna spec. Young user-choosers are clearly on Nissan’s radar.
Beneath it all is the same platform underpinning the Juke and Clio, and the Micra features the same hidden rear door handles to mask its five-door only model range. In reality, it hides any relations with Renault rather well, bolstering its French cousin’s agility with Qashqai-derived chassis technology which uses the engine and brakes to counteract the body pitching backwards and forwards on rough roads, and stopping it pushing wide on corners.
The trade-off, in Tekna spec, is that the 17-inch alloy wheels come with a significant compromise in terms of comfort. It tends to crash over rough surfaces, and there’s a lot of tyre roar at motorway speeds – which is not uncommon for similar option-ticking in its rivals. Tekna gets punchy Bose audio with speakers in the driver’s headrest, and at speed, it needs it.
But it is much better to drive than the old car, and the engine options help. Nissan offers two petrol units for the Micra, the more powerful of which is the turbocharged 900cc three-cylinder tested here. It’s a strong performer, with the usual three-cylinder growl under load, though six gears would help with motorway economy. Even the diesel only gets five gears.
Despite the youthful styling, equipment levels reflect a more mature car too. Four adults can fit comfortably inside the cabin, which has generously-sized door bins and a large boot the old car couldn’t match. However, the more advanced NissanConnect touchscreen system isn’t overly intuitive, and it doesn’t get Apple CarPlay as offered on the lower-spec unit fitted to the Acenta trim. Android Auto isn’t offered at all. For a car with a focus on younger drivers, it’s an oversight. Also, as anything other than Ivory paint is an optional extra, the Micra needs some options to make the most of that new styling.
That said, Nissan has a very different product on its hands this time around. Modern in style and technology, and good to drive with it, this familiar name is in a good position to find plenty of new fans.
What We Think:
The Micra is almost unrecognisable in its latest guise. But a limited engine line-up compared to the Clio, and some oversights in terms of connectivity, could be a barrier compared to its biggest rivals.