Most of the 79bhp 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine’s torque sits at the low end of the rev range, making it responsive and easy to drive. The 97bhp DIG-S unit might be supercharged, but it's set up for economy rather than performance. Although it's noticeably stronger than the lower-powered 1.2 in everyday driving, it's certainly not quick.
The suspension is okay at taking the sting out of bumps and potholes at low speeds, but the ride gets nervous and unsettled when you’re going faster. The handling isn't great, either. There's a lot of body lean in bends, and while the light steering gets heavier the faster you go, it doesn't get heavy enough. There's virtually no feel through the wheel and you don't have great confidence in its ability to maintain grip through corners.
Both engines have a characteristic three-cylinder thrum when you rev them, but the noise dies down well at motorway speeds. However, there's lots of wind and road noise, so it's still too noisy at the national limit.
The Micra's starting price looks tempting, but the entry-level model doesn’t have air-con, so you’ll either have to add it as an option or scoot up the range a bit. This makes for prices that are very similar to those of the equivalent Hyundai i20 and Suzuki Swift, which in many ways are superior cars. Impressive fuel economy and CO2 emissions mean the Micra will cost peanuts to run, though.
Nissan's reliability record has always been impressive, and the Micra has consistently been one of its strongest performers. That should make you pretty confident that it won't go wrong. However, that confidence will be undermined by the hard interior plastics, which feel very cheap and flimsy, even for a budget supermini.
All Micras come with a stability control system and emergency brake assist to help you avoid trouble in the first place, and front, side and curtain airbags to protect you in case you can't. Not bad for a budget supermini. However, the Micra’s four-star Euro NCAP crash-test rating isn’t as good as some of its competitors'.
The Micra has big windows and skinny pillars, so visibility is good all round. Most of the switchgear is easy to use, too, but a couple of controls are tucked away out of sight. Getting comfortable is the biggest issue, though – the steering wheel adjusts for height only, and there's no seat-height adjustment on entry-level models. The seats don’t give enough support, either.
The Micra is smaller than most superminis, but there's still a decent amount of room inside. There's enough head- and legroom for adults to sit comfortably in the back. The 265-litre boot is a bit smaller than the space you get in some competitors, though, and the split-folding rear seats leave a step in the boot floor. Entry-level versions don't even have them.
The most basic Visia models are just that – basic. Granted, you get Bluetooth phone connection, but you don't get alloys, air-conditioning or driver's seat-height adjustment. You do with the mid-spec Acenta, along with cruise control and electric door mirrors. Tekna models add parking sensors, sat-nav and automatic lights and wipers.
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