Nissan’s aim with the fifth-generation Micra was to create a car that struck a compelling balance between the rubber-footed rolling composure of the VW Polo and the outright dynamic accomplishment of the Ford Fiesta. With its lowered suspension and reworked steering rack, one might reasonably assume this N-Sport variant in fact leans towards the latter, though if it does then the execution isn’t quite as convincing.
However, while not as spry or engaging as a Fiesta ST-Line or Mini 3-door, there’s enough handling composure here to ensure the N-Sport doesn’t embarrass itself next to its more dynamically gifted classmates.
The 205/45 section front tyres grip particularly well when charging into tighter bends, and though there is still a noticeable amount of body roll under cornering, the firmer, lower suspension ensures any weight transfer is delivered in a controlled, predictable fashion that doesn’t upset the Micra’s inherent stability. That said, the additional firmness enabling this level of composure does make the Micra marginally more susceptible to deflections mid-corner, but there’s still enough pliancy here to ensure the worst of the shock is dissipated.
Where the standard Micra’s helm requires three full turns to travel from lock to lock, the N-Sport’s tuned rack cuts this down to 2.8. This allows the N-Sport to change direction with a convincing sense of agility, but then again a lack of nimbleness wasn’t something we ever criticised the fifth-generation Micra for when we road tested it in 2017.
A Fiesta’s steering set-up delivers a more natural weighting and a turn-in that feels a degree more incisive, but the Micra’s gearing is at least commendable for its linearity and weight – if not its ability to relay information from contact patch to fingertips. The result is a supermini that’s reasonably tidy-handling; but its dynamic disposition leans more towards the grown-up than the playful. Ultimately, it’s the Fiesta that remains the sweeter, more enjoyable steer.
The Micra N-Sport made more of a show of its warmed-up supermini identity when it was confronted with the twisting Tarmac of the Millbrook Hill Route.