Yes, I will admit to having double checked that the car delivered to me for review was in fact the new Micra – so different is this new model to its predecessor. To, in fact, any Micra that has come before. I’m even surprised that Nissan didn’t just change the name…
I suppose, though, that the new Micra simply had to be unexpectedly different – playing in the ultra-competitive B-segment among some serious rivals that include the new Volkswagen Polo and Ford Fiesta, it simply had to grab attention.
Which it does – especially in the eye-catching Energy Orange of this mid-range Acenta test car.
What can I expect from the Micra?
The new Micra is a complete departure from any Micra before. One cannot accuse it of looking boring… All swoopy lines and tight proportions, the overall design is edgy, youthful and modern. Nissan has jumped on the “blacked-out C-pillar” train and also incorporated the hidden rear door handles there, while a strong character line flows from the edges of the revised V-motion grille and swoops over the bodywork to the rear light clusters.
Our Acenta featured satin-silver mirror caps, bumper and door inserts, while a carbon-fibre effect insert breaks up the rear bumper. Overall, I think it’s a handsome, eye-catching design.
The same can be said of the interior, too; of which I loved the design. The standard two-tone dashboard and leather centre-console inserts lift the ambiance and creates a sophisticated environment. It must be said, though, that the quality of plastics used in the interior is a mixed bag, some feeling great, others unexpectedly hard and scratchy.
Up to 1 004 l of cargo capacity of available (300 l with the seats up), and front passenger space is good. However, the rear accommodation is definitely on the tight side.
Is it loaded with lots of safety features and other nice toys?
Standard across the range are the likes of LED daytime running lights; powered front windows (yes, ONLY the front…); cruise control; automatic headlights; six airbags; ABS with EBD, brake assist, hill start assist and ESP; Isofix child-seat anchors and automatic stop/start.
Opting for the Acenta nets stylish 16-inch wheels; front fog lights and a four-speaker sound system hooked up to a seven-inch infotainment system. This system offers full connectivity, including Apple CarPlay.
What’s it like from behind the wheel?
That infotainment system presented the one major ergonomic flaw with the Micra: the radio preset buttons are a bit of a stretch for the driver… This is a problem because no matter how I fiddled I could not make sense of the steering-wheel buttons when I wanted to change radio station; requiring me to glance over and stretch across to the screen, therefore removing my eyes from the road.
Otherwise, the Micra is really quite nice to drive. The driving position is good and the gear lever for the five-speed manual box is positioned high on the centre console, falling within easy reach. Comfort levels overall are good, though a bit of tyre and wind noise permeates the cabin. There is also a minor blindspot to be wary of created by the thick C-pillars.
That five-speed gearbox doesn’t like to be rushed through shifts which, actually, is fine, as with only 66 kW and 140 Nm from the turbocharged 898 cc three-cylinder engine, acceleration is leisurely. It must be said, though, that with a typically gruff tri-pot soundtrack and strong power delivery – as well as feeling light on its feet – the Micra does feel quicker than its claimed 12,1-second 0-100 km/h time suggests.
Of far more importance, though, is its fuel economy and here Nissan claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 5,1 l/100 km. I managed an overall 8,4 mainly because I couldn’t help but climb the turbo… When cruising this figure drops right down and I have little doubt one could come close to Nissan’s claimed highway figure of 4,2 l/100 km.
Should I buy one, or look around?
I still maintain that this all-new Micra is so different to its predecessors that Nissan should’ve renamed it… At R268 500, the Acenta undercuts its direct rivals and is probably the sweet-spot in the current Micra range (more models will be added in 2019). It is covered by Nissan Assured and comes with a six-year/150 000 km warranty; a three-year/90 000 km service plan; and 24/7 roadside assistance.
While it’s priced competitively, looks great and has a nicely designed interior, the Micra’s overall levels of quality and ride and engine refinement won’t trouble the segment leaders. It’s still worth a look, though. Now more than it’s ever been.
CyberStoep rating: 7/10