Nissan makes good cars, but the Micra didn’t represent its finest hour. For four generations and 34 years it has sold well, but the last version in particular was a bit of a clunker.
But here comes the fifth-generation car — and what a difference. The daring styling is bang up to date, its waistline swooping downwards towards the nose, giving the little car a purposeful and determined look, and its colourful, high-quality cabin is a match for the best in class.
It shares virtually nothing with the outgoing model, and there is a choice of 900cc three-cylinder petrol or 1.5-litre four-pot diesel, both producing 90hp. A one-litre petrol triple with 72hp will follow.
Its camera-based lane-keeping system is a first in the supermini class and there is an impressive optional £500 Bose hi-fi system, incorporating speakers in the head restraints and doors, although a clever algorithm makes the sound seem to come from in front of the front occupants.
The main seller in the UK will be the 900cc triple, which is £1,350 cheaper than the diesel. Unfortunately, any chance of driving it were knocked out by a blizzard during the car’s launch in Croatia. But I did drive the diesel, which proved fluid and fun before the weather closed in.
The new Micra, which arrives in March, is longer, wider and lower than before and incorporates Apple car play, a seven-inch touchscreen, 300 litres of bootspace and a soft-touch knee pad across the dashboard.
It is entering a highly competitive part of the market, which represents a fifth of all UK new car sales, and includes such polished performers as the VW Polo, Renault Clio and Ford Fiesta. It may not drive with quite the zip of the Fiesta, but its broad talents will provide a big headache for its rivals.
Nissan Micra IG-T 90 N-Connecta 5sp manual
Top speed: 109mph
Combined mpg: 61.4