IF ever there was a car that was likely to be driven by a little old lady, probably straining in second gear and with a long queue of impatient traffic behind her, it would be the Nissan Micra.
Not that there was anything terribly wrong with the Micra - just that it was plain dull, though hugely reliable, no doubt.
Well, things are different with the latest version of the range that has been among the supermini vanguard for three decades.
Today's Micra has racy styling, sharp angles and even sharper handling and performance. Yet it retains the qualities of low budget running, tough mechanics and ample space within its compact dimensions.
The fifth generation Micra is built on a highly modified platform with a wider track and a low centre of gravity for improved handling. The power steering is similar to that used in the highly praised Qashqai and the engines are shared with its Renault partners.
Of the three engine options, most popular and almost certainly the most interesting is the 898cc turbocharged three cylinder.
Don't be put off by the meagre size of the unit - it's creamy smooth and delivers instant power to the tune off 88bhp which, in the light five-door body of the Micra, produces a lively performance coupled to competitive fuel consumption.
It can polish off the dash to 62mph in a respectable 12.1 seconds and goes on to a max of 109mph. The standard five speed gearbox is light and swift.
The cabin of the Micra is as fresh and stylish as the exterior with the use of a high grade plastics and bold colours. It's refreshing to get away from boring acres of grey or black mouldings. The topline Tekna has air con, sat-nav and dual tone interior trim as standard.
One of the qualities that help it stand out from the crowd is the general level of refinement. Noise levels are unusually low and even when revved the three-pot engine remains unflustered and smooth. An acoustic windscreen plays its part in suppressing commotion, too.
It's pleasing to find a small car that's fun and precise to drive. With quick steering and a fluent ride, the Micra can be chucked into bends without fear of any reprisal. The front tyres grip on tenaciously with just a hint of understeer. There's a little body roll but not enough to irritate occupants.
As with most of the current crop of superminis, the Micra is a five-door, with the two back doors having cleverly concealed handles in the style of the previous Honda Civic.
Space for passengers is on a par with the best selling Fiesta and boot space is adequate for family getaways. The rear seats split and fold to allow further luggage/passenger permutations.