Nissan Micra: first UK test

* New supermini tested on UK roads * On sale now from 9250 * Mid-spec Micra almost 11,000...

Nissan Micra: first UK test

What is it?
Nissan goes back to basics with the all-new Micra supermini.

The bubbly, cute styling from the previous model has been replaced by a more conservative look: If you want a funky Nissan, go for the Juke or the Cube. This Micra will be sold in 160 countries around the globe so it has to appeal to a lot of different customers, says Nissan.

We're interested in its UK customers, however, so here we put the car through its paces on British roads for the first time.

What's it like to drive?
It's okay. For the moment, there's just one engine a 79bhp 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol unit, matched to either a five-speed manual or a CVT gearbox. It's responsive and easy to drive. It's also reasonably economical, with average fuel economy of 56.5 mpg and CO2 emissions of 115g/km.

There's a characteristic three-cylinder thrum at low speeds, but the engine is actually surprisingly quiet when you pick up the pace. Road and wind noise are much more of a problem.

The Micra copes fine with bumps and potholes, but the handling isn't great. The steering is vague, the car leans through corners and you don't have great confidence in its ability to maintain grip through corners.

What's it like inside?
While some rivals are bigger, there's enough room inside for four adults. The seats are comfortable enough, but drivers may find it hard to get that sweet-spot driving position because the steering wheel adjusts for height only and entry-level versions miss out on seat-height adjustment. However, the dash is well laid out and easy to use.

It's available only as a five-door, so access to the rear seats isn't a problem, and the 265-litre boot is big enough to hold a few bags of groceries.

Build quality seems solid enough, but the hard interior plastics feel very low-rent, even for a budget supermini

How much will it cost?
Prices start at 9250 for the pretty basic entry-level Visia model. Nissan expects 65% of its Micra customers to plump for the mid-spec Acenta version, but at 10,850 it's up against some really stiff competition.

Nissans should prove reliable and running costs are low. Existing customers are also being offered 0% finance to tempt them into a new Micra.

A supercharged version of the 1.2 engine will be available from the summer at around 800 more than the non-supercharged version. It will have 97bhp and emit just 95g/km of CO2.

What Car? says

There are better cars for the same - or even less - cash.