Nissan took a new direction when they launched the fifth generation Nissan Micra.
The Japanese car maker ditched the previous model’s cutesy looks in favour of sharper styling.
It’s now been given a mid-life refresh and among the changes is a new “warm hatch” model I spent a week with.
The Micra N-Sport gets Nissan’s latest, peppy engines and sportier styling to set it apart from the crowd.
It slots in above the mid-spec Acenta range. In addition to the external styling cues it adds a reversing camera, rear parking sensors and folding, heated door mirrors.
The old, Renault-sourced 0.9 litre engine is gone, replaced by a more modern 1.0 litre unit available in two strengths – 99bhp, or the 115bhp version I drove.
That’s not enough to take it into hot hatch territory – the Ford Fiesta ST tested elsewhere on these pages would demolish it in a straight line dash – but it has more zest than your average supermini. The 0-62mph dash takes 9.9 seconds and top speed is 121mph – both respectable if uninspiring figures. The free-revving unit feels faster than it is and as long as you’re not carrying a full boot and four passengers it feels very nippy indeed. At 48mpg, fuel consumption is also good.
Suspension has been stiffened and lowered by 10mm, improving handling without impinging too much on ride quality.
Inside there’s a new infotainment system. It’s still not the sharpest unit – I often had to press the touchscreen buttons twice to get them to respond – but it’s an improvement on before and you now get smartphone integration as standard on all but entry level cars.
My N-Sport model had part leather, part-alcantara seats and upgraded plastics, giving the interior a premium feel.
Room inside is good given its modest overall dimensions and the 300 litre boot is particularly roomy.
On a jaunt through to Comrie I found it quiet enough on the M90 and entertaining enough on the A85. It doesn’t shine in any one particular area, which makes it easy to overlook that it’s actually a pretty solid all rounder.
Price-wise, the N-Sport model with the 115hp engine will set you back around £19,000. That’s comparable with rivals such as the VW Polo R-Line and Fiesta ST-Line. If you want to save money, the Acenta spec offers most of the same kit for £1,700 less.