First Drive

2017 Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi 90 review

The new Nissan Micra fell short of the best superminis in petrol form, but does it make more sense as a diesel?

Words ByMatt Saunders

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Nissan Micra front

We were a little disappointed by the new Nissan Micra after a UK test drive in a prototype last year. Introduced to fanfare about its high-quality interior and the slickness of its drive, the model with the three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine impressed us with its generous standard equipment and agile handling, but was let down by its fidgety ride, cramped rear seats and fairly high list price.

However, that 898cc petrol isn’t the only flavour the new Micra comes in. Straight from the off, it can be had with a 1.5-litre diesel, and before long a cheaper 1.0-litre petrol will also join the range. We took the earliest opportunity to drive the former in Croatia.

What's the 2017 Nissan Micra like to drive?

The diesel Micra is powered by a 1.5-litre engine sourced from Nissan's partner brand, Renault. While it’s noisier than the three-cylinder petrol, it's more refined than similarly sized units offered by the likes of Volkswagen, Seat and Skoda. The Micra's engine is relatively smooth, and it doesn't vibrate any of the car’s controls. It's quiet, too, with the clatter usually found with diesel engines kept to a minimum, although you do hear a hint of a whine from the fuel injection system at times.

The engine has a good amount of torque, making the Micra easy to drive. Power is delivered evenly, comes promptly from low revs, and although the engine isn’t one that likes to be revved to much, that’s a trait common to most diesel engines of this size. That even power delivery also helps to mitigate the Micra's poor quality gearshift, which is even less accurate than it is in the petrol Micra.

Although this is the fastest-accelerating version of the new Micra, it isn't the one to pick for keener drivers. The ride is a little firm and a bit more restless than that of the petrol, and though the extra weight of the engine gives the car’s steering a welcome bit of added weight, overall the diesel Micra narrowly fails to reproduce thehandling crispness as its petrol sibling.

The Micra diesel still feels like a more agile car to drive than plenty of its rivals, but also suffers more often with the fidgeting, occasionally noisy ride of the petrol model.

A diesel Ford Fiesta is better to drive, while a diesel Skoda Fabia is more refined.

What's the 2017 Nissan Micra like inside?

Nissan has focused on making the Micra one of the roomiest in its class up front and in the boot. This, along with the car’s size and style-first design, has resulted in a stark contrast between the space in the front and rear seats. Head and leg room in the front are generous, but adults won’t want to spend long in the back.

The Micra's driving position is comfortable thanks to the standard height-adjustable driver’s seat and good range of steering wheel adjustment. However, the unusually thick rear pillars make over the shoulder visibility poor.

The materials inside are consistently high-quality, with a soft-touch finish in places. The leather-look trims in our test car, which are actually plastic, are optional extras. They look and feel pleasant and, combined with the optional leather seats, lift the interior ambiance inside enough that many will consider them worth paying extra for.

Practical features inside include a decently sized, rubber-lined cubbyhole at the foot of the centre stack, which is illuminated by LEDs, making it easy to spot things inside at night. Among its best entertainment features, meanwhile, is an optional Bose stereo (Β£500) which has speakers on the sides of the driver’s headrest and creates very effective surround sound.

The Micra gets a 7.0in centrally mounted touchscreen infotainment system as standard. It's a bright, clear display and intuitive to use. Sat-nav is an option on mid-range trim, and probably isn't worth the extra cash, given that smartphone mirroring comes as standard, plus Nissan's sat-nav isn't as good as the one you get on an iPhone.

The boot, meanwhile, is a slightly larger than the Fiesta’s, but slightly smaller than the Fabia’s.

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