Time Well Spent: Nissan Micra N-Connecta 1.5 dCI 90 *Recommended*

Mike Humble:

The Nissan Micra has always been a worthy if eye wateringly dull little car. But that’s all been changed… rather dramatically too. The all new Micra has also marked the phasing out of the clever little Nissan Note. So in the small car sector Nissan is now playing a very different kind of tune.

You better cancel that Readers Digest subscription!

 

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The Micra – once Nissans city car for the 80’s (though older people drove them too) has been transformed into this slick, sleek and pretty thing. Impressive tech and nice to drive not to mention incredible fuel economy.

The little Micra… everybody’s friend and trusted steed, or rather it was if you were a driving instructor or a driver in their twilight years. Far from being a bad car, in fact if kept in decent fettle tended to go on forever. The model has been with us now for many years with gentle but restrained evolution over the decades, highly regarded but never having that exciting appeal of other small hatchbacks. I would personally go on the record by saying that overall, they’ve been crushingly bland in the past.

“…don’t expect the same clever interior of the now deleted Note with its umpteen different ways of moving the rear seat around and removable false floor – if its space you require along with perfect practicality there’s plenty of used Volvo estates out there”

Oh my word what have we here then? An all new Nissan Micra with what I regard as being a rather couthy and snazzy little shape. In one fell swoop the Micra ushers in a more funky image to their smaller car range, it looks good alongside the Juke and Qashqai too. But don’t expect the same clever interior of the now deleted Note with its umpteen different ways of moving the rear seat around and removable false floor – if its space you require along with perfect practicality there’s plenty of used Volvo estates out there. If you are looking for a pint sized Nissan – the Note is dead, long live the Micra.

On a purely personal note… oops sorry, I mean opinion, I adore the sleek and rakish styling this model offers. Overall exterior fit and finish is pretty good but one or two items feel like they have costed to within an inch of their lives. Notable are the rear door handles that are hidden high up in the rear of the window frames and the dark plastic trims that fit around the bases of the door mirrors – the latter seemed to be held together with a black resin / silicone kind of goo. Thankfully the rest of the package such as paintwork and shut lines are up there amongst the best.

 

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Impressive and stylish cockpit has a minimalistic feel despite actually being well equipped. Textures and fabrics look good but some minor trim feels very cheap to the touch – especially the gear gaiter surround. Comfortable seats and ease of driving impress though the front seats lack bolster support when cornering hard and the clutch pedal is notably very high off the floor. The storage tray ahead of the gearlever is illuminated from underneath its perforated anti-slip mat which is certainly different and is really good to look at.
micra rear
Rear legroom is about ok but the sloped roof impedes on the available headroom. Occupants are treated to acres of rock hard, single colour plastic on the doors with a cheap feeling rubber handled window winder… a bit of a let down compared to the pleasing surrounds up front.

 

“Its all rather minimal at first glance but in N – Connecta flavour actually packs a gallon of tech and equipment into its metaphorical pint-pot”

Jump inside and you’ll find an interior that’s pleasing and youthful too. The flat bottomed leather trimmed steering wheel with its slightly bulbous airbag looks good and slides through your fingers really well. Its all rather minimal at first glance but in N – Connecta flavour actually packs a gallon of tech and equipment into its metaphorical pint-pot. Bells, whistles and twiddly bits include all the usual safety related abbreviations and items like lane departure warning, traffic sign recognition and intelligent emergency braking. Some subtle usage of satin silver and a light coloured contrasting soft feel trim to the fascia helps to give the car an airy feeling.

The driving position is quite good with all the controls falling the hand reasonably well and there’s good forward vision. I did find the clutch pedal sits rather high compared to the brake, in fact its a good couple of inches higher. Maybe not as bad as to cause discomfort perhaps but at least there is plenty of rest room around the clutch pedal for motorway cruising. Overall comfort is rather good but despite the front seat bolsters looking deep, supportive and sporting, they are in fact rather soft and lacking in support when cornering quickly or when zipping through a roundabout. But for cruising and distance work the seats seem just right and well padded.

Micra is blessed with a just right sized gear lever although I found the test car to have a slightly sloppy and loose feeling gear change quality. Staying with quality, it was also noted that the leatherette gaiter looked cheap with signs of poor stitching. The well placed air vents provide all the hot / cool air your face will ever need and on a couple of hot days it was noted the air-conditioning works as expected. The simple controls to which are mix of rotary and push buttons – nice, simple and minimalistic. Other plus points are the good storage area up front for odds and ends, I particularly liked the illuminated tray ahead of the gear lever with its soft up-lit effect at night – very swish indeed.

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The boot offers 300 litres of space with the seats up to a maximum of 1004 litres with the rear seats folded down. But there’s no load bay  trickery like you’d find with the Note and once lowered the floor has an obstructive hump as can be seen here.
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A few people asked what the car was and seemed surprised when told. The detail in the 3/4 panels and back lamp units look intricate thanks to some neat swoops and curves. Styling is always a topic for opinion and debate but I think it looks really cool and up-to-the minute.

 

“What does impress is the optional “Vision Plus” pack that gives, by means of strategically placed cameras, a virtual 360 degree aerial view of the car making dark or tight car park spaces a doddle to nip in and out of… its a worthy feature” 

Instruments comprise of the traditional Nissan family items of black dials with white digits and needles. They are very large in size, easy to read at a passing glance but prone to reflect in the windows when driving in the dark, though this can be reduced by simply dimming down the illumination. To the left of the clocks you’ll find the TFT screen that displays everything from the Sat-Nav through to economy information. Also there’s the reverse camera display here too but the picture resolution is notably poor. What does impress is the optional ” Vision + pack ” that gives, by means of strategically placed cameras, a virtual 360 degree aerial view of the car making dark or tight car park spaces a doddle to nip in and out of.  The aforementioned £550 option pack also adds moving object detection and blind spot intervention… its a worthy feature.

Some interesting looking and feeling textures are in the front like the colour coded door cards and facia trim, its a shame it doesn’t continue into the rear. Rear occupants are given single colour bone hard door cards with manual window winders that feature a cheap feeling rubber handle – another sign of cost cutting measures. That raked body shell means rear headroom is a bit lacking but leg and knee room isn’t too bad for short to medium length journeys. While round the back there’s a split fold rear seat offering 300 to just a whisker over 1000 litres of space. As with a lot of its competition, the seat backs don’t fold down fully flat which leaves a notable lump in the floor to overcome especially when battling with long flat objects.

 

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The Renault sourced 1.5 diesel for most of the time pulls well and is refined, especially when cruising. Also its incredibly frugal too with impressive MPG figures without the driver even really trying. Torque drops off alarmingly quick though if you accidentally let the revs drop too low. 5 speed gearbox has perfect ratios for the car but has a slightly imprecise shift quality.

“…its amazingly economical to run. If you are happy with being a nuisance to other road users you can just about touch 83mpg or more and my best achieved figure was 83.2”

The 1.5 diesel does a decent job of bowling the Micra along. Round town the light controls, well weighted clutch and light, if a little loose feeling gear change, makes for a really happy driving experience. It pulls well through the rev range though the available torque does drop off quite alarmingly if the engine speed drops too low. I thought the ride comfort was very good unless the road is really rough and suspension noise seemed well insulated in general. Motorway work or fast cruising is equally rather good and a recent run to Northants and Beds and back found the car smooth, relaxed and capable of long motorway trip. Handling wise the Micra is safe and predictable if a little short of sporting, I found the grip of the seat support gave way long before the road holding did.

Overall there’s a lot like about the new Micra. It looks good, its comfortable and for front occupants at least has a stylish up-to-the-minute interior. Also, its amazingly economical to run. If you are happy with being a nuisance to other road users you can just about touch 83mpg or more and my best achieved figure was 83.2 but expect a figure around the low 70’s when touring. That’s not bad considering the car is no slouch when you want to push on.

AUTOBRITANNIA.NET RATING? 8/10

The Humble Opinion:

What a transformation indeed. More sizzle and less Sanatogen both outside and in has changed the Micra from plain dreary to cheeky and cheery. Nice to drive, funky and amazingly frugal on the fuel means the car ought to be a winner for the younger driver who normally would never have considered a Nissan for a small car.

Sadly though, it lacks the clever thought out design of the Nissan Note. So Note owners potentially coming into the new Micra may struggle to overcome this objection. That said, its a youthful car that wont offend any age bracket – I’m sure Nissan wont struggle to sell it.

The build quality feels below par in some areas if you have a close look and it lacks the outright practicality and intelligence of the now deceased Note. But for looks, technology and economy I would be happy to live with a car like this. Just a little nip and tuck along with a sporty model that features grippy seats is all the Micra now needs.

Oh… and if you get the chance, sample the Bose stereo upgrade with headrest speakers!

Nismo edition please?

MODEL TESTED: Nissan Micra N-Connecta dCI90

Price: £16,770 excluding options

Power Unit: 1.5 Euro6 in-line transverse four turbo diesel

Driveline: Front wheel drive five speed

Power / Torque: 90PS / 200Nm

Performance: *0 – 60 in 11.9 seconds with 111mph max

Fuel Economy: *88.3mpg combined (74.8mpg actual) Best recorded on test – 83.2mpg

Co2: 104G/Km

* = Manufacturers or Govt claimed data

 

What’s Great?

  • Amazing fuel economy
  • Pretty and edgy styling
  • Appeals to the younger driver without putting off traditional Micra owners
  • Minimalist interior belies the fact its actually well equipped
  • Impressive safety and technology
  • Good motorway refinement
  • Effortless to drive
  • It yearns for a Nismo edition

What Grates?

  • Some incidental trim feels notably cheap
  • Lacks the clever practicality touches of the now deleted Nissan Note
  • Rear headroom is tight
  • Notably high clutch pedal
  • Front seats lack lateral support especially under spirited driving
  • Useful sized boot spoilt by its basic seat folding arrangement
  • Steering is too light and lifeless

 

For more information on the Nissan Micra CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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