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First Drive: Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.

First Drive: Nissan Micra
Nissan replaces its Micra with a new car aimed to appeal to a broader, worldwide audience. It misses the mark for us, though.

   



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| First Drive | Copenhagen, Denmark | Nissan Micra |

Lighter, better equipped and more economical, the new Nissan Micra promises much, but it fails to match its intended rivals - or to better its predecessor.

In the Metal

The new Micra is a global car, built to appeal to a worldwide audience - and it shows. Gone is the substantial look and feel inside and out, while the (admittedly divisive) style of the old car has been lost in translation. Looking more like a third generation Micra with a new nose and rear lights, the new car lacks the sort of stand out style that European, Japanese and now Korean superminis offer. Park it alongside the outgoing Micra and you'd be convinced that the new car is the older of the pair.

Inside it's more of the same. It looks and feels like it has been built to cost - which of course, it has. There's very little flair inside; all the plastics are hard, shiny and unable to match the quality of any of its key rivals. Space is decent enough, and there are two glove boxes, a sizeable boot and fold flat seats. However, there's none of the novel detailing that helped raise its predecessor above the mere ordinary.

What you get for your Money

Specification, low emissions and good economy are the trade off for the lack in visual and tactile stimulation. Even the entry-level Visia trim comes with ESP stability control, six airbags and a radio/CD stereo with aux-in and Bluetooth telephony. That starts at just under 9,000. It's worth adding 1,600 to that to get into an Acenta model, as it features alloy wheels, climate control, cruise control, driver's seat height adjustment, a 60/40 split folding rear seat and fog lamps.

The Micra is powered by a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder engine with 79bhp, mated to either a five-speed manual or continuously variable (CVT) automatic transmission. With the manual gearbox, emissions of 115g/km and economy of 56.5mpg mean running costs will be low.

Driving it

Put simply the new Micra is transport. It'll mobilise many in developing nations, and despite extensive tuning to make it acceptable to European buyers it's below par to drive. The suspension is soft - so it handles bumps reasonably well - but the Micra lurches through bends. The three-cylinder engine is smooth thanks to a balancer weight on the crankshaft, but it needs working very hard indeed to perform. Do so and it's not very quiet - being just about acceptable when mated to the vague manual transmission. Add the 950 CVT transmission and the Micra becomes a tiresomely noisy drive, with the CVT holding the engine at high revs and delivering little in the way of urgency. The manual car covers the 0-62mph sprint in 13.7 seconds; you'll give up trying in the CVT because of the racket.

Around town the decent all-round visibility is a boon, as is the Micra's impressive turning circle, but any of its rivals is more sophisticated overall.

Worth Noting

Opt for the smart Connect option on the Acenta model and you get fully integrated satnav for 400. It includes a USB port too, but crucially it loses the 12-volt socket you'd otherwise get. That's fine if you've got your MP3 player plugged in, but if you want to charge your phone at the same time (assuming it even has a USB charger) or any other accessories then forget it.

Summary

Nissan has taken a completely different tack with the new Micra, opening up its small car to worldwide markets by making it cheaper, easier to manufacture, and simpler in its style. Throwing equipment at it for the UK can't hide that, as the new car lacks the sophistication that buyers in the supermini market can get in every other competitor - or indeed its predecessor.

Kyle Fortune - 15 Sep 2010



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2011 Nissan Micra. Image by Nissan.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by Nissan.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by Nissan.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by Nissan.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by Nissan.

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.



2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 

2011 Nissan Micra. Image by David Shepherd.
 






 

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