By Mike Torpey on 2019-10-05 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Nissan Micra 1.0
DIG-T 117 N-Sport
NISSAN cruised into this year determined to make its Micra supermini more appealing than ever to prospective buyers.
A trio of new engines were at the forefront of the initiative, along with a special N-Sport specification designed to maximise the car's fun-to-drive personality.
Pair the most spirited of the new powerplants, a turbocharged three cylinder petrol unit producing 117ps, with the new trim grade and you have a car the Japanese manufacturer is rightly excited about.
That's because it is positioned in the heart of the ‘warm hatch' category occupied by rivals like the Ford Fiesta ST Line, Volkswagen Polo R-Line and SEAT Ibiza FR.
We may not be talking ‘serious' performance here - acceleration is to 0-62mph in a blink under 10 seconds - but it's pretty good for a car of this size.
There's also a half decent 180Nm of torque, plus an additional 20Nm on the overboost.
More important than bare figures though is the car's dynamic performance - and that's down to a number of physical changes.
So versions featuring this engine have a lower ride height plus revised suspension tuning and sharper steering, the combination helping the Micra become more agile and edgy.
Buyers also get a new chrome exhaust along with 17-inch alloys.
That's just part of an overall package that makes this a really stylish small car, and one with much more interior space than the superminis of old.
And that means loads of knee room for rear passengers provided the front seats aren't slid fully back.
Go for the N-Sport trim and the seats are part leather/Alcantara, there's a chunky leather flat-bottomed steering wheel, a rear roof spoiler, body coloured front door handles and mirrors, rear privacy glass and a soft-touch upper dash area.
That little lot is in addition to a rear view camera, parking sensors, automatic headlights, daytime LED running lights and a smart carbon-style finish on the door caps and wheels.
Concealed rear door handles add to a smooth, clean profile and what is a reasonably sized boot expands to top 1,000 litres when the 60-40 split/fold rear seats are down.
It is definitely worth paying the extra Â£250 it costs to specify the test model's Solid White paint job, which works really well with the black alloys and black strips that run the length of the car, either side and front and back.
N-Sport also brings in the latest NissanConnect display with a seven-inch touchscreen, DAB digital radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and smartphone integration.
Safety features include lane drift warning, hill start assist, emergency braking with pedestrian recognition anda speed limiter.
Not only is this an eye-catching car - light years ahead of its predecessors - but it feels rewarding to drive, is nimble, has positive feedback from the steering and comes with a slick six-speed manual gearbox.
The only gripe with this transmission was that, on this version at least, engaging reverse gear was quite stiff.
Nissan Micra 1.0 DIG-T 117 N-Sport
Mechanical: 117ps, 999cc, 3cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 121mph
0-62mph: 9.9 seconds
Combined MPG: 47.9
Insurance Group: 5
C02 emissions: 114g/km
Bik rating: 26%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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