What Car? says...
For nearly four decades, the Nissan Micra has been a staple in the world of small cars – in fact many of us learned to drive in one.
Over the years, Nissan has sold thousands of Micras to buyers looking for something cheap and easy to drive. As with most cars that have been around for so long, some versions were more successful than others (you still see weathered Mk IIs with nervous teenagers at the wheel).
Nissan dropped the ball with the fourth generation Micra, which had forgettable styling and an interior that took a backwards step at a time when the quality of its competition in the small car category was improving rapidly. As a result, it dropped off the bestselling cars list.
This latest model is here to help rebuild its reputation, though, replacing the bubble-car styling with sharper lines, a smarter interior and a sportier drive. There’s also a more straightforward structure of trim levels and just one engine option to keep things simple.
That’s what we aim to find out in this review, so read on for everything you need to know. We'll cover performance, interior quality, running costs and much more, as well as telling you our favourite trim level and which options we think are worth paying extra for.
Then, once you’ve decided whether the Micra or any other car is the one for you, head over to our free What Car? New Car Buying service to get the best deals on new cars without having to do any awkward haggling. You could save thousands of pounds with the latest Nissan Micra deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
The Nissan Micra engine range has been slimmed down to just one option – the 90bhp turbocharged petrol, badged the IG-T 92. There’s no hybrid or electric version, although the Japanese manufacture offers the slightly larger and more expensive Nissan Leaf fully electric car.
The Micra's engine is fairly flat at low revs, but once the turbocharger kicks in, there’s enough power for it to feel nippy when you’re driving around town. With a manual gearbox, the 11.8sec 0-62mph time is swift enough to get you to motorway speeds in a quick and easy manner. The Ford Fiesta feels even zippier because of its mild-hybrid tech, and will get you to 60mph around a second faster.
As well as the manual 'box, there’s also a CVT automatic available with all but the entry-level Visia trim. While engine power remains the same, the slow gear changes mean the 0-62mph time slips to 13 seconds and you’ll feel the difference when you accelerate.
Suspension and ride comfort
The Micra’s suspension is fairly stiffly sprung, preventing the car from bouncing around over undulating roads. The downside is that the Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo all ride more smoothly.
The firmness is particularly noticeable around town, where the Micra has a tendency to crash over the kind of sharp potholes that rivals would take in their stride. If you have 15in or 16in wheels fitted, things get a little better as speed increases, and the Micra becomes quite a comfortable motorway cruiser. If you're looking for maximum comfort, it's best to stick with smaller wheels.
With the largest 17in rims, the Micra is quite fidgety at motorway speeds and you find yourself constantly making tiny steering adjustments. The Polo is more comfortable for driving long distances, and won't feel quite as busy.
The Micra has light steering so you'll find it undemanding to drive in town. The wheel doesn’t weight up as consistently as in the Fiesta or Renault Clio out on the open road, and you can’t place the car as intuitively as you’d like.
As the Micra is supposed to be trumpeting Nissan’s sportier flair, that's s a little disappointing, but at least body lean is well controlled and there’s plenty of grip in dry conditions. The rear end gets a little twitchy on wet roads, though.
In previous generations of the car, the N-Sport special edition variant slightly improved handling by adding quicker steering and a lower, firmer suspension setup to help it stay flatter through fast corners. N-Sport is now a trim level, and adds equipment and styling rather than making the Micra a lukewarm hatch.
Noise and vibration
You can hear the Micra's engine buzzing away at idle, and you’ll also feel a little vibration through the pedals. When you work the engine hard, it becomes quite coarse and noisy as you climb up the rev range. Loud engine noises disappear sufficiently when you settle into a cruise.
As speeds increase, wind noise is well suppressed but engine noise is replaced by road noise and the Micra isn’t as refined a cruiser as the Polo. That said, the level of road noise never gets so high that it becomes irritating and choosing a trim level with smaller wheels should reduce it.
The Micra’s manual gearbox isn’t as slick as the Fiesta's but the clutch is fairly light and positive, making for smoother changes than in the Fabia, which can be slightly jerky in traffic. The CVT automatic, on the other hand, isn’t the smoothest and can be slow to change gear. We’d suggest sticking to the manual.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
Most people will be able to get a comfortable driving position in the Nissan Micra as all versions coming with a height-adjustable driver’s seat and a steering wheel that adjusts up, down, in and out. Unlike rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Skoda Fabia, adjustable lumbar support isn’t available anywhere in the range, and you can't get electronically adjustable seats either.
The dashboard is set out in a sensible fashion, with large, clear dials and well-labelled switches. The Micra uses physical controls for pretty much everything, so you get knobs and buttons to operate the air conditioning and easy-to-use buttons on the steering wheel for volume, cruise control and other functions.
Disappointingly, you don’t get an armrest with the Micra, regardless of trim level.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
Front visibility is fine for the most part but the Micra’s steeply angled windscreen pillars can obscure your view at junctions. As is also the case with its rivals, over-the-shoulder visibility is limited because of the shape of the car and the chunky rear pillars.
N-sport and Tekna trim levels come with rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard but you can’t have rear parking sensors on any other version without going for the optional Vision pack.
Those two trim levels also get LED headlights and fog lights as standard to help boost visibility at night or in adverse weather conditions. All other trim levels get LED daytime running lights and traditional halogen headlights.
Sat nav and infotainment
The Micra's entry-level Visia trim doesn’t get an infotainment screen but does come with DAB radio, Bluetooth and a USB port with iPod connectivity. Upgrading to Acenta trim and above gives you an easy-to-read and well laid out high-resolution 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring.
It's fortunate that the mirroring option lets you use your phone for sat-nav because you won't get navigation built in unless you opt for the expensive Navigation pack or top-tier Tekna trim. The screen has some physical shortcut buttons around it to help you navigate the system, making it much easier to use on the move than the solely touchscreen systems in the Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.
The Micra's top-of-the-range Tekna trim also replaces the standard four-speaker stereo system with a Bose audio system that includes speakers on the sides of the driver’s headrest and creates a very convincing surround-sound effect.
For the most part, the interior is on a par with the Micra’s rivals, with a smart mix of soft-touch materials on the dashboard and the tops of the doors.
The Micra doesn’t hide its hard plastic areas as well as the Fabia, though, and the plastic steering wheel and rubber gear knob you find in lower trim cars is disappointing compared with the soft, leather-like materials you’ll find in rival cars.
If you want a higher quality interior, you'll want to look at the top two trim levels, which have better materials. N-Sport takes the interior in a sportier direction by adding Alcantara seats and various synthetic leather parts. Tekna adds a leather-wrapped gearknob and handbrake, alongside synthetic leather on the doors and dashboard.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Up front, the Micra is one of the roomiest cars in the small car category, offering plenty of head and leg room, even for six footers.
Practical touches include a decent sized rubber-lined cubbyhole at the foot of the centre console that’s illuminated by LEDs, making it easy to spot things inside at night.
If you regularly carry more than one adult passenger, you might need to cross the Micra off your shortlist. Head room in the back is the main problem, as even those of average height will find their heads grazing the roof-lining.
Only the range-topping Tekna model has a central rear headrest as standard.
Seat folding and flexibility
Nissan hasn’t given the Micra any clever touches to make its interior especially versatile. All models get a simple fixed rear seat base and a backrest that splits 60/40 to fold down.
Dropping the backrest leaves a big step up from the boot floor, too, although this is also the case in most rival cars.
The Micra’s 300-litre boot is bigger than you’ll find in the Ford Fiesta, so it should easily fit your weekly shop or multiple carry-on suitcases (we fitted five in the Fiesta). If luggage is a priority to you, the Jazz and Fabia have even bigger boots.
There’s no option of adding a height-adjustable boot floor to even out the extended load bay when you drop the back seats.
Accessibility & Motability
Usability for people with disability or their carers
Motability - Access
The Nissan Micra’s driver's seat is just 594mm high in its loftiest setting. That's lower than you'd sit in a Citroën C3 with the seat all the way down. At least manual height adjustment is standard, even on entry-level Visia cars, although it's a shame there's no lumbar support adjustment, whichever spec you choose.
It's not all bad news, though. The driver's door sill is quite close to the ground, so there isn’t a huge step when getting in, and the same is true when getting out. What's more, the steering wheel in every Micra adjusts for height and reach to help find a comfortable driving position.
Motability - Storage
The Micra's boot capacity of 300 litres is competitive rather than class-leading, but the shape and size of the luggage area means there's room for a folded wheelchair even without folding the rear seats down.
The Micra comes with 60/40 split-folding rear seats, and lowering these allows room for a fully assembled wheelchair. This puts the Micra at an advantage compared with the Fiesta, Clio and Corsa.
There are three cupholders in the car, the door bins in the front are large and shaped to take a drinks bottle, and there's a handy storage cubby at the base of the centre console. Pockets in the back of the front seats will store a road atlas and a book or two. The rear door bins aren't as big as those in the front, but you can say the same of those in most rivals.
Motability - Ease of use and options
Nissan has kept things simple with the Micra's engine line-up, with a couple of 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines. The IG-T 100 engine comes with a five-speed manual gearbox, or an Xtronic automatic. The IG-T 117 has a six-speed manual gearbox, but no automatic option. There’s no diesel or electric version.
The entry-level Visia model is quite basic, without even air conditioning. However, it does have a digital radio and autonomous emergency braking. Stepping up to Acenta spec brings several desirable upgrades, including manual air conditioning, cruise control, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, so you can use your smartphone’s apps – including navigation – via the car’s touchscreen. N Sport cars have a rear-view camera – an especially feature handy given that the Micra's over-shoulder visibility for reversing is poor.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
There are some temptingly cheap trim levels in the Nissan Micra line-up, but the ones you’ll actually want are expensive next to an equivalent Skoda Fabia. The Ford Fiesta, Renault Clio and Vauxhall Corsa are also likely to cost less if you’re buying on finance.
The Micra is expected to lose its value quicker than the best small cars, as well as being more expensive to service.
Officially, the Micra is capable of achieving more than 50mpg, which means it should be about as cheap to run as the Fiesta and Fabia. Company car drivers who want to keep their benefit-in-kind (BIK) payments down, however, are likely to prefer the mild-hybrid Fiesta because of its low CO2 emissions.
Equipment, options and extras
The Micra's entry-level Visia trim doesn’t give you much in the way of equipment but is great for those who want to keep costs to a minimum. It includes electronically adjustable door mirrors, the standard audio system, LED daytime running lights, auto headlights and auto windscreen wipers.
The next step up, Acenta, is our favourite trim. That’s because it takes the base equipment but then adds the touchscreen infotainment system, alloy wheels, cruise control and air conditioning. You also get access to various optional packs to allow you to add useful but not essential items such as rear parking sensors and built-in sat-nav.
The top two trim levels, N-Sport and Tekna, are too expensive for us to recommend, despite coming with a long list of kit that includes sat-nav, electrically folding door mirrors and tinted rear windows.
There’s no specific reliability data available for the Micra, but Nissan as a manufacturer finished a disappointing joint 27th place out of 30 manufacturers in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey. That ties them with Ford but puts them below Seat, Skoda and Volkswagen.
All Micras come with a three-year or 60,000-mile warranty that can be extended for up to three additional years if you pay extra.
Safety and security
Every Micra comes with an impressive list of standard safety equipment that includes front, side and window airbags, a lane-departure warning system and an automatic emergency braking (AEB) system that should stop you from running into pedestrians or another car.
The Micra hasn’t been tested for safety by Euro NCAP since 2017, when it was given four stars. It scored well for adult and child occupant protection but lost a star due to poor pedestrian and safety assist scores. The tests have since become much more stringent and cars tested in later years could potentially keep you safer in a crash.
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The Nissan Micra did not feature in our 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey because not enough owners responded with details of their experiences with the car for us to include it. Nissan came a disappointing joint 27th (with Ford) out of 30 manufacturers in our brands list – ahead of only Land Rover and Fiat at the foot of the table. Read more here
The Nissan Micra is not available as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or electric car. Instead, all versions come with a frugal 1.0-litre petrol engine so you get low running costs without the expense of electrification. Nissan does build zero and ultra-low emissions cars. Its best-selling electric car is the Nissan Leaf and the Nissan Ariya SUV joins its fully electric line-up this year. Read more here
There is only one engine available for the Nissan Micra, a 90bhp turbocharged petrol (called the IG-T 92), which provides enough power to make it feel peppy around town and is reasonably economical. We recommend the Acenta trim, which includes a 7in touchscreen infotainment system, alloy wheels, cruise control and air-conditioning. Read more here
Upgrading the Nissan Micra from Acenta to the more upmarket Tekna trim gives you quite a lot of extra kit. That includes 17in alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, a leather-wrapped gearknob and handbrake, synthetic leather inserts on the dashboard and doors, keyless entry and start, blind-spot warning, built-in sat-nav and a Bose stereo system. If you want the best value, we wouldn’t recommend going any higher than Acenta. The Micra is also available in Kiiro and N-Sport trims. Read more here
All versions of the Nissan Micra come with a high-resolution 7.0in touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring (so you can run your phone apps on the screen). The system is clear and easy to use with handy shortcut buttons, and we prefer it to the set-up in the Volkswagen Polo. Read more here
The Nissan Micra’s boot is a strong 300 litres – bigger than you’ll find in the Ford Fiesta, for example. That’s enough space for five carry-on suitcases or a typical weekly shop. The rear seats fold down to make space for larger loads, but there’s no height-adjustable boot floor to level out the extended load bay. If you need a small car with more space (and not everyone will), practical suggestions include the Honda Jazz and Skoda Fabia. Read more here
|RRP price range||£17,255 - £21,690|
|Number of trims (see all)||4|
|Number of engines (see all)||1|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||44.8 - 53.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£951 / £1,368|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£1,903 / £2,737|