What were you doing back in 1983? If you were looking for what we now call a City Car, a car that offers a decent amount of interior space cunningly hidden in a compact outer with excellent fuel economy, then you were most likely gazing rather lovingly at the all new Nissan Micra. Fast forward through 4 surprisingly different takes on that original philosophy and we arrive at this, the 5th edition Micra, a car that is similar to the revered original in ethos alone. And that is a very good thing indeed.
Take a few moments to look at the Micra N-Sport edition on test and tell me you don’t want one. As designs go, the Nissan looks absolutely fantastic adorned with bold creases along each side, clever lighting front and rear, the N-Sport Black & Carbon-look Exterior Pack, 17” Alloy Wheels, Rear Privacy Glass, Lowered Suspension and Exhaust Pipe Finisher, not to mention the cleverly disguised rear door handles.
Step inside and the design excellence continues with soft-touch materials, comfortable seats, class leading infotainment and driving technology. Nissan have done a great job here with the integration of their next-generation audio and navigation systems, giving you Bluetooth for audio and media streaming, access to Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® depending on your preference and a clear 7” multi-touch display screen that makes everything easy and convenient to use. Perhaps though the greatest trick Nissan have played with the Micra is not just the premium feel and look that they have bequeathed upon the exterior and interior, rather how they have provided the driver and passengers with that rarest of features in a City Car, space.
It’s hard to believe how far the Micra has come from those early days, after all, the original model was not exactly a car that would make you just want to get in and drive and yet this one, the DIGT117 N-SPORT Manual, has fun built into it’s very DNA.
The traditionally sensible side of the Micra comes packed with a variety of technologies to help you in creating a relaxing cruiser when required including: Cruise Control, Traffic Sign Recognition, High Beam Assist, Lane Departure Warning and Hill Start Assist. All of these features are designed to assist the driver as and when necessary whilst still allowing the N-Sport’s inherent driving ability to bubble away just underneath the surface. This clever integration of old style analogue driving ability mixed with the more modern, digital feel gives you the satisfaction of knowing that it’s your own inputs that are dictating the drive rather than those of the car itself and that is just as it should be.
With a new 1.0-litre turbocharged triple engine delivering a very perky 115bhp @ 5250rpm and max torque with overboost of 148lb/ft between 1750 and 4000rpm, the N-Sport can be hustled along a decent series of bends by feel and grin power alone, not unlike the original way back in ’83. The 6-speed manual gearbox certainly helps in this respect as it’s well matched ratios allow this gem of a 1.0-litre engine to remain in the bulk of it’s power, leaving the driver to revel in the Nissan’s controlled suspension and accurate steering as you wind your way across this green and pleasant land of ours.
Nissan have created a Micra that is fit for today but not to the detriment of why it was great in the first place. The N-Sport builds upon the car’s original skill set of reliability, practicality and ease of use by adding in a thoroughly modern, daringly styled and immense fun hatchback. A job they’ve done rather well indeed.
Where will you go?