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It’s confession time-  I never was a fan, although many were, of the original Nissan Micra. However,  it has truly come of age with the current model, now in its fifth generation, a very complete compact five door hatchback which takes the likes of Fiesta and Corsa head on . Yes, it is competing in a very busy marketplace, one which in recent years has witnessed a number of buyers downsizing and the car manufacturers largely do offer the goodies found in larger cars; certainly Nissan does with their latest Micra.

The bubble shape that once made it so distinctive is long gone; today its styling is much more mainstream with greater appeal for all ages. Back in 1982 it was known as the Nissan March and ten years later it arrived on the European motoring scene. The current model was designed for this market and is produced at a Renault facility in France.

Recently I spent a rewarding week with this latest challenger from Nissan and right away I was taken by the level of equipment which frankly I did not expect. The Micra in its present form has all of the goodies onboard that you would expect from a model higher up the range. When it comes to living with the newcomer, I found it was the ideal form of transport for both town and country motoring, a truly practical set of wheels with handsome styling as a welcome bonus.

The heart of the matter is a lively one lire engine with 100PS; it replaced a 90PS version to deliver more power, torque and improved response. Working with the engine is a CVT transmission which I had no complaints with. I do have to say that in the early history of the CVT transmission I was not a fan as it hunted for gears, today the one used by Nissan is well up to the task in hand and on the economy front I managed to average just shy of 17.9km/l (42mpg). I consider this reasonable as most of my driving was urban. If you need a little more power then there is a 117PS engine which does add a sporting touch to this Nissan. However like so many manufacturers, the one litre engine has become popular and I have driven quite a few and am always surprised at their power output.

Nissan Micra – Passion Red

The version I tested (trim levels differ in various markets) was really well appointed and styling that caught the eye. Added by the black & carbon-look pack, seventeen inch alloy wheels, and a wide use of body colouring gives this Micra a decided sports look and an added N-Sport badge. The interior and the sports theme is carefully executed with such items as leather rim steering wheel, gear lever knob and handbrake. These small touches add an air of quality to this compact hatchback. A nice touch was ambient lighting in the front storage console; clearly the design team wanted to give wide customer appeal to their small offering. Safety and security has been given priority and stopping power courtesy of ABS, EBD and Brake Assist. Re safety an intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition is most useful especially when driving in town. Other safety features include, lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition, hill start assist and tyre pressure monitoring system. A very complete package for a compact car. Convenience items include, cruise control, Nissan intelligent key and start button and even a puncture repair kit. I discovered only one missing item which irritated my fellow passenger, no height adjustment with the front passenger seat. For entertainment on the move, no disappointment with this Micra, Apply CarPlay, Android Auto and smartphone integration are included and a BOSE personal audio pack delivers quality sound and there are speakers built into the headrests, a further nice touch. Need to find a destination, no problem, Nissan Connect Navi with Premium TomTom Traffic delivers. Behind the wheel the Micra is equally at ease in town or on a winding country road and for those difficult in town parking bays you have a rear view camera and parking sensors. Summing up an attractive compact hatchback that does take on the major players and delivers a fun and satisfying drive.

Ian Lynas