Nissan hopes to regain lost ground with the latest Micra hatchback, after the dumpy previous model proved distinctly underwhelming. The sleek newcomer promises a sharper drive and performance – but can it deliver? We drive the current quickest model, the 89bhp 1.5 dCi, to find out.
The diesel unit is surprisingly refined for such a small-capacity oil-burner, particularly at cruising speeds. Any excess noise is kept to a minimum in the cabin, partly thanks to the Micra’s acoustic windscreen. And despite the engine being heavier than its petrol counterpart, the Nissan’s enjoyable handling belies the extra weight over the front wheels.
This agility is aided by Intelligent Trace Control, which helps turn-in by lightly braking the inside wheels. Understeer is nicely tamed and body control is impressive, while the steering is well weighted. Thanks to stiffer springs, the ride is good over all but the bumpiest roads.
The impressive feel stretches to the engine, too. Even if this car is not a road rocket its power is perfectly adequate, but the high ratios mean you’ll make good use of the lower gears. We achieved an indicated 50mpg during our test.
The cabin has a high-quality finish with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. There’s ample space for all passengers, yet the sloping roofline cuts into rear headroom. All specs but Visia get a standard-fit 7in touchscreen, which works well with Apple CarPlay.
The new Nissan diesel is impressive in isolation, but we’d question the wisdom of buying the diesel variant. It costs more than the equivalent – and more refined – petrol car, while diesels look to be falling out of favour in general. Only high-mileage drivers should consider this route to new Micra ownership.
Nissan Micra 1.5 dCi
Engine: Four-cylinder, 1461cc, turbodiesel
Power: 89bhp at 4000rpm
Torque: 162lb ft at 2000rpm
Gearbox: 5spd manual
Top speed: 111mph
Economy: 88.3mpg (combined)
CO2/tax band: 85g/km, 20%
Rivals: Ford Fiesta 1.5 TDCi, Skoda Fabia 1.4 TDI
Sarah Bradley is a writer for AutoCarReuse content