WE have been waiting a while for Nissan to make the Micra mighty again. Six years to be precise.
It was a car that had such a great start in life, hitting the ground running in 1983, taking the European Car of the Year title 10 years later, and making an even bigger mark with the lovable frog-eyed front and shot off tail styling of the third generation model.
Then someone who thought they knew best decided to rein things in and design a car the whole world would like. It was like sticking a pin in a balloon. Micra mark four was bland, boring and anonymous.
And now we have this. A cracking eye-catching car which has done nothing but turn heads. My neighbour, who runs a funkyNissan Juke, thought it a ‘good looking car’ but could barely believe it was a Micra. He thought the last Micra was our frog-eyed friend, which says it all really.
Enough of past mistakes, no one can complain this time. The new car is longer, wider and lower, and packing a heap of safety kit for a supermini. The extra 174mm in length – all but seven inches in old money – is significant because it has allowed the designers to express themselves as well as giving passengers more room.
Small cars, above all other things, have to make people think they are roomy and provide clever solutions for storing those things that would normally be dropped to the floor because they won’t fit anywhere else.
So let’s give credit for a glove box big enough to take a two litre drinks bottle and door bins that can hold a 1.5 litre bottle. That should keep the kids happy on a hot day. There is enough room for a couple of leggy adults in the back and the 300 litre boot is plenty big enough.
Hauling heavy items over the high boot lip is a bit of a bind and could be overcome with a false floor, common enough on cars these days.
Micra’s styling really is sharp, helped along by a couple of ideas pinched from rivals.
Hiding the back door handle in the window frame has been doing the rounds for years and still catches people out, while the shiny black insert connecting the top of the back doors and tailgate (aka Vauxhall Astra) is effective.
Something that needs to be addressed is the sweep of the passenger side wiper. It is hopeless and needs a mechanism to provide a wider sweep. I seem to remember Renault doing it years ago on the Clio and as Micra is built at its alliance partner’s plant just outside Paris they should be able trawl the Renault records.
That was the only flaw I could find so all credit to Nissan.
There was one sticky moment but it was self-inflicted. My test car had the intelligent key system which means the key can stay in a pocket for opening, starting and locking.
In all innocence I dropped my wife at the supermarket and then drove to the garden centre when I noticed the key not found message. It was in her handbag. So that absent-minded souls like us don’t fall into the trap can I suggest an audible alert, just like a seat belt reminder. It would save a lot of cursing... on both sides.
The standard safety package on Micra would be impressive on a top end model let alone a supermini and includes emergency braking with pedestrian detection and lane intervention which steers the car back on line if the driver loses concentration.
Auto-dipping headlights and traffic sign recognition are other surprising entry level features.
An extra on all but the top of the range is the all round camera which has a brilliant bird’s eye view function.
The diesel is apparently capable of 88mpg; we averaged 61mpg and hit 70mpg on a run. It is a nifty performer but those favouring petrol should look to the one litre turbo which is said to be good for 64mpg.
Nissan Micra N-Connecta