Nissan Micra Tekna

IG-T 90

Nissan Micra, front action
Nissan Micra, front quarter
Nissan Micra, front static
Nissan Micra, front static 2
Nissan Micra, side action
Nissan Micra, rear action
Nissan Micra, rear quarter
Nissan Micra, boot
Nissan Micra, comtrols

BY the end of my time with the latest version of Nissan's smallest car I had become quite used to the same rhetorical question from anyone I showed it to.

"That's a Micra?"

The response served to highlight the radical transformation the little car has undergone to distance itself from its predecessor.

In sharp contrast to the rounded, upright stance of earlier models which - in the nicest possible way often struck me as the sort of car a Mr Man character would drive - the new Micra is sharp, angular and very sleek.

And concealed rear door handles create the illusion that this car's a coupe.

Now in its fifth incarnation the Micra is longer, wider and lower than earlier models and definitely far more trendy.

It's also gone upmarket, with some superb kit on board, but of course this is reflected in the price with the range now starting from just under £12,000 but rising to £18,765 for the diesel version, top-of-the-range Tekna model.

The petrol-fuelled Tekna Micra had a basic price of just under £18,000 but with extras that increased to just over £20,000.

This of course is a world away from the budget-priced Micra known to previous generations of buyers but one look at the lines of the new car tells you why.

The interior is equally impressive too, with two-tone leather seats (an optional extra), two-tone soft touch dashboard, a seven-inch touch screen for the sat nav and various on-board systems and a nice leather-covered, flat bottomed steering wheel.

Put the Micra into reverse and half of the screen shows you what's behind you via a rear view camera while the other section gives you a 360 degree view around the car so there is no excuse for colliding with anything.

There's an excellent Bose sound system which included one particularly feature I really liked - speakers set into both sides of the driver's headrest for great music on the move.

For a supermini there is generous space in the front and reasonable leg room in the rear, and I don't think anyone can complain about the deep, 300-litre litre boot.

This car was powered by the smallest engine in the range, just 898cc and three cylinders. An engine of that size a few years ago wouldn‘t have pulled the skin off a rice pudding - as they say - but new technology means this Micra is not only lively but good fun to drive.

To be picky I occasionally found it a bit lumpy in first and second gear when cold but apart from that it's a nice, responsive unit which, audibly, is only distinguishable as a three pot at high revs.

And of course one of the bonuses of such a small engine is its economy. The on-board computer gives you an average after each journey, and while more often than not mine was in the high 50mpg range I did record one 62.4mpg without really trying - and that's higher than the official figure from the car maker.

The new Micra is packed with features for the safety conscious family driver including a system which will brake the car for you if it thinks you are going to collide with another car or pedestrian, lane departure warning, hill start assist and automatic high beam/dipped beam headlights.

It's all a long way from the first Micra which took to the roads in 1983 and became a best seller for Nissan.

FAST FACTS

Nissan Micra Tekna IG-T 90

Price: £17,870

Mechanical: 90ps, 898cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 109mph

0-62mph: 12.1 seconds

Combined MPG: 61.4

Insurance Group: 4

C02 emissions: 104g/km

Bik rating: 17%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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