THE Nissan Micra is the latest supermini to move upmarket in a move which sees the Japanese car firm taking full advantage of its alliance with Renault.
Built in France and powered by proven engines the new Micra is pushing into premium territory.
Sharp styling, crisp handling and plenty of appointments make it a small car with big aspirations - and that's reflected in the price.
The new Micra costs from Â£11,995 and the 12 model range tops out at Â£18,765 - a quantum leap from the budget-buy image of the previous four generations of Nissan's alternative to the Ford Fiesta.
The Micra has been a popular feature of the UK car scene since 1983 but this one is a radical shift into the quality zone with leather trim, advanced technology and a high end Bose sound system all part of the armoury.
Posh is an understatement and the Bose hi-fi has been specifically designed for the Micra.
It's standard fit on top specification Tekna models - a Â£500 extra on mid grade versions - and delivers exceptional sound quality. With additional speakers in the driver's head rest the experience is a step up from the norm.
For fans of music on the move, that's going to be a deal clincher and in Tekna trim the Micra is exceptionally well kitted out in this class of car.
We have just sampled two versions of the new Micra in Tekna grade - one petrol, the other diesel. Both impressed on a large scale but both - with extras - tipped the scales at more than Â£20,000.
That is completely new territory for the Micra and while the new model is streets ahead of any Micra before the cars we tried were top dollar.
The bargain image of the original Micras is long gone and the new model is squarely aimed at those who want big car qualities in a small car shape.
The cars we tried not only had two-tone, finely stitched leather upholstery and trim even across the dash, the Bose sound kit which is excellent and high tech features such as lane drift prevention, automatic cruise control and a 360 degree camera system to help manoeuvring.
Among other classy superminis such as the Audi A1 and top grade Ford Fiestas, Peugeots and VWs, Nissan has come up trumps and the Micra is definitely premier league material.
It also impresses on the power front, especially the diesel although such engines are not that popular in smaller cars.
The price differential for the diesel is £1,330 which in Tekna territory sees the 1.5-litre dCi priced from £18,765 and the 0.9-litre turbo petrol Micra costing from £17,435.
Both engines have Renault roots and are tried and tested in the Clio alongside which the new Micra is built at Renault's Flins factory to the west of Paris.
The three-cylinder petrol engine develops 90ps, has a 0 to 60 time of 12.1 seconds and a maximum of 109mph with emissions of 99g/km on 16-inch wheels which equates to 64.2mpg.
The diesel also develops 90ps but is marginally quicker at 11.9 seconds 0 to 60, topping out at 111mph with a CO2 figure of 85g/km at best - an official 88.3mpg.
We saw an average of 46 from the petrol Micra and 53mpg from the diesel over similar runs and not only was the diesel more economical it also had a broader power spread through the five speed manual box Nissan is fitting to all models.
The entry level car will feature a 1.0-litre non-turbo petrol engine rated at 71ps and an automatic is also in the pipeline.
Handling is sharp, there will be few complaints with the way the car is set up and the Micra makes a fist about being a high end performer.
It is five door only, comes with a generously proportioned 300 litre boot (maximum capacity is 1,004 litres) and the interior is genuinely family sized.
Personalisation options include body decals and trim inserts and with some bright colours in the line up it is a car that is smack on trend.
This is very much a new car for the new age of superminis where luxury features and high tech is ever more important.
The previous generation Micra was built in Asia to a global recipe and lost some of the magic that came from the three earlier models of which more than a million were built in Britain at Nissan's Sunderland factory from 1983.
The new car is back to its European roots and while not a replacement for the Micra of old it is a surge forward and a car for the modern motorist whose demands are now in the premium zone.
Pay the money and reap the rewards. There are plenty to be had in Nissan's new grown-up baby and it will be hard to be disappointed with what the new Micra has to offer.