Nissan Micra hatchback performance
The range starts with a non-turbocharged 1.0-litre petrol engine that produces just 70bhp and 71ft lb of torque. Unsurprisingly, it’s not that fast, with the entry-level Micra taking a languorous 16.9sec to get from 0-62mph. Granted, there is just enough low-down shove to make it an adequate city companion, but it soon runs out of puff on quicker B-roads. A quick car this is not.
And if you think you’ll benefit from improved efficiency by choosing the entry-level engine, you’re likely to be disappointed. Nissan claims an official combined fuel economy of 61.4mpg, which is rather impressive, but CO2 emissions of 103g/km are higher than that of the more powerful turbocharged 0.9-litre petrol engine (which emits 99g/km).
Ultimately, we think the 0.9-litre engine is well worth the premium over the entry-level unit. It zips the Micra along quite happily, giving you the performance you need not only for town driving but also for comfortable motorway use. And thanks to a solid swell of shove provided from low to midway up the rev range, you don’t have to rev it as hard as the entry-level engine, either.
The diesel engine, like the 0.9-litre petrol, is shared with Renault and delivers its power evenly from low revs. True, it doesn’t like to be taken all the way up to its redline, but that’s a trait common to most diesel engines of this size.
Nissan Micra hatchback ride
The Micra’s suspension is fairly stiffly sprung, so it stops the car bouncing around over undulating roads. However, the Ford Fiesta, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo are all smoother riding.
This is particularly noticeable around town, where the Micra fidgets more and has a tendency to crash over the kind of sharp potholes that those three rivals would cross unobtrusively.
At least most of the Micra's jitteriness smoothes out once the speed rises, so it’s a comfortable motorway cruiser.
Nissan Micra hatchback handling
Light steering makes the Micra undemanding in town, but out on the open road the wheel doesn’t weight up with the consistency that you get in a Ford Fiesta or Renault Clio.
Considering the sportier bent trumpeted by Nissan, this is a little disappointing, because it means that when pushing on, you can’t place the car as intuitively as you’d like.
Body lean is well controlled and there’s plenty of grip in dry conditions, but the rear end gets a little twitchy on wet roads.
Nissan Micra hatchback refinement
The 1.0-litre engine is quiet enough at low revs, but once you venture past 3000rpm, it’s hard to ignore its three-cylinder thrum.
The more powerful 0.9-litre unit also gets quite vocal at higher revs but, thanks to its low-down grunt, there is less of a need to rev it hard. And even then, the accompanying thrum is far from unpleasant.
No qualifying statements are required for 1.5-litre diesel. It is one of the smoothest engines of its type, particularly when compared with the Skoda Fabia’s diesel.
Sadly, the gearbox isn’t as impressive, because it has a vague action. But the clutch is fairly light and positive, and the brakes progressive, so you can drive the Micra smoothly in snarled-up city traffic.