Nissan has unveiled a refreshed edition of its popular Micra with a selection of six different model variants. From the outside, the most distinctive editions are the cars that feature exterior packs, which in their base form comprise side mouldings, colored door mirror caps and eye-catching front and rear bumper finishers in contrasting colours. Boosting the appeal are 17-inch alloy wheels, while if you’re a real show-off then the Exterior Pack Ultimate even adds body decals into the mix.
We also like what Nissan has done with the interior, with a collection of pack options that pepper the inside of your chosen Power Blue, Energy Orange or Invigorating Red model, with shades that complement the snazzy exterior hues.
Plump for the less ostentatious grades and you get a much more sober interior. But it’s only when you start to drive the car that you realize there’s some substance behind all this style.
Fun and flair
We drove three models, including an automatic, which was effortless in traffic but felt that top of the pile for our money had to be the N-Sport, which features a perky new one-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine that delivers 117bhp. Nissan reckons it’ll get you from 0-62mph in 9.9 seconds, which isn’t bad at all.
Adding to the special N-Sport status is a six-speed manual transmission along with lower suspension (10mm no less) that, combined with tweaked steering, makes this Micra a little spicier to drive than the more mild mannered 100bhp engine variant, which is also newly introduced.
The N-Sport is also easily identifiable too with its black and carbon-look exterior pack, those 17-inch alloys, rear privacy glass and electric folding heated door mirrors. The N-Sport badge underlines the fact that you’re driving a Micra that’s got an extra bit of go under the bonnet.
It certainly proved most fun to drive with its sprightly performance, decent handling and that fluid six-speed gearbox. The CVT model packs a similar punch though as you’d expect from an auto box fared less well on the winding country roads when you tried to push it.
However, the automatic model is ideally suited to pootling around busy city streets where, if you’re in start/stop traffic, you don’t want to be constantly changing gear. Back out on the motorway, the N-Sport coped admirably with lengthier sections of highway.
Incidentally, during this leg of our drive, we enjoyed the benefit of Nissan's Safety Sense active assist, which helps to keep you between those all-important white lines by correcting as you go.
While there is a bit of road noise, the N-Sport has the benefit of very comfy front seats. That said, it could do with being roomier in the back. The uprated interior really benefits from that dusting of extras too, with plush Alcantara seat coverings and dash inserts along with a front seat armrest and showy white air vents.
There’s iKey remote entry and a push-button start for good measure along with the NissanConnect infotainment system, which first appeared in Nissan’s revamped Qashqai a while back.
Another neat touch that features in the N-Connecta model is a Bose Personal Audio Pack, which features four speakers located in the front doors and A pillars, plus a pair of driver headrest speakers. So-called sound stage controls allow you to milk the best from your preferred audio selection.
It’s a nice addition alongside the now expected Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. You can also assemble your preferred infotainment screen widgets in the layout that suits you best, which if you can be bothered to do it does actually personalise the experience to suit individual needs.
Find your way
Nissan was keen to underline the convenience factor of its sat-nav system, which utilizes the services of TomTom maps (free for the first three years, it says) and its door-to-door navigation system. The latter lets you plan your proposed driving route from home or office and then ping it to the car in readiness for your trip. There’s the ‘find my car’ assistant too, if you regularly lose your wheels in crowded car parks.
As you’d expect, the accompanying app is pretty straightforward, although as always, the in-car options are always going to be up against Google Maps. This, for many, is still the go-to option for getting from A to B.
The N-Sport is yours from £17,935 (about $23,000, AU$32,000). Other models in the slightly convoluted Micra range start with the Visia, from £12,875 (about $17,000, AU$23,000), the Visia+, £13,825 (about $18,000, AU$25,000), Acenta/LE, from £15,095 (about $20,000, AU$27,000), the N-Connecta at £17,210 (about $22,000, AU$31,000) and the Tekna, which starts at £18,760 (about $25,000, AU$34,000).
At the launch, Nissan said that it was after the same sort of people that are considering the hugely popular Ford Fiesta ST and the Seat Ibiza with its N-Sport model, and thinks the car's ‘warm hatch’ credentials might persuade you to give it a whirl. It’s definitely a fun drive, but it’s also pricey and up against stiff competition, particularly when put alongside the mighty Fiesta.
However, we go way back with the Micra, having even used one to move house once (albeit by ferrying furniture in multiple journeys). So sure, you’ll still be able to move house with the help of a the revamped Micra, especially with its sizeable 300-liter trunk; you’ll just be able to do it that little bit quicker, especially if you plump for the fizzy N-Sport model.