The Nissan Micra has been with us since 1982, and is one of the UK’s most recognisable nameplates. We’ve always thought of it as a soft, bubbly, chintzy supermini. Not any more. At least it’s no longer some of those things.
The fourth-gen Micra is now a global car, sold in more than 55 countries and built in four, of which the UK (now home to the higher-tech Leaf) is not one. It is built in Thailand, Mexico, China and – from where UK-destined Micras sail – India.
Marketing a global car is simple enough if you are at the extremes of luxury, performance or utility; a Mercedes-AMG SLS is equally as desirable and a Toyota Hilux equally as useful in central Europe, the US mid-west or the Far East.
Conventional family cars have, traditionally, had a harder time convincing their respective customers that, say, standards for Asia are compatible with those of western Europe. Nissan, though, says that its ‘V’ (for Versatile) platform has allowed its engineers to adapt the Micra to suit the myriad regions where it will be sold.
Nevertheless, just three years after the launch of the fourth-generation K13 Micra, the car was heavily facelifted in response to poor sales. The fundamental problem was that after the funky third-generation Micra, it lacked any sort of pizzazz – dynamic, design or otherwise.
The facelift saw an entirely new front end from the windscreen forward, cosmetic tinkering at the rear of the car and revisions to improve perceived quality and appearance.
With the Pixo previously marking the entry point to the Nissan range in the UK, the Micra moved upscale in pricing and is only available a naturally aspirated 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and four trim levels: Visia Limited Edition, Vibe, Acenta and n-tec. Buyers have the option of a five-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox mated to either engine.
With the standard engine emitting just 99g/km of CO2, Nissan’s engineers didn’t think a diesel engine would be worthwhile – and they’re probably right.
However, as you may find from visiting Nissan's website, this fourth generation Micra is being phased out for an all-new version. The fifth generation Micra has a very different remit by aiming for the established front runners - the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, and to do so it will share numerous components and the production line with the Renault Clio.