Almost 25 years since the first of its breed hit the road in Japan, the Nissan Micra, one of Europe’s favourite compact hatches is back and entering its fifth generation. Taking centre stage at the 2016 Paris Motor Show, this latest incarnation of the immensely successful model is a bold departure from the styling cues of its ancestors and embraces the latest technological toys and gadgetry like never before.
Nissan gave us a taste of things to come with the Sway concept hatch, unveiled at last year’s Geneva Motor Show. Although the flavour may be a touch different, the same basic ingredients debuted on the 2015 preview car form a key part of the mix on this new production Micra. Whilst some of the Sway’s more aggressively styled features, such as the razor-like bonnet fins, have been scaled down slightly, many other elements remain virtually unchanged. The hatchback’s basic shape for example, topped off by the arched floating roof, is a near carbon copy of that glimpsed on the Sway, whilst the fifth generation Micra’s angular front fog light surrounds, distinctive V-shaped grille and sharp belt line all remain faithful to the concept.
Integrated into the C-pillars are the rear door handles, above which the swooping roofline tapers up into a modest rear spoiler. Highly customisable, the all-new Micra comes with a choice of ten exterior body colours, including the dashing orange seen on the launch car as well as a veritable plethora of other customisable exterior and interior design options.
Delving into the cabin, existing Micra owners will have to get used to a new lower driving position whilst the cars’ extended width and wheelbase means interior space is now among the best of any compact hatchback out there. The standout feature of the newly styled cabin is undoubtedly the wing-shaped dashboard and instrument panel, nestled behind a new, fully adjustable steering wheel. A 7-inch full colour central display, mounted on the centre console, houses controls to the sat nav, downloadable app interface and six-speaker Bose sound system.
Even the assorted array of safety tech is notably advanced for the Micra’s particular playing field. Its standard issue Lane Departure Prevention is a segment first, usually reserved for the more luxury end of the spectrum, whilst the all-new Micra’s Intelligent Braking with pedestrian recognition has never before been seen on a European-marketed Nissan.
That’s not all. Further tech toys filter down form the Micra’s more senior stablemates, not least Active Ride Control and the understeer-busting Trace Control, until now the reserve of the AWD Qashqai and X-Trail. A new brushless electric power steering system for greater steering feel and response is also available as an option.
Power comes from a new generation of downsized turbo drivetrains, with a 0.9-litre three-cylinder petrol and a 1.5-litre diesel, both developing 90hp, available from launch. Joining them at a later date will be a third, naturally aspirated powertrain, the 73hp 1.0-litre petrol.
Construction of the new fifth generation Nissan Micra is set to begin soon at the Renault manufacturing plant in Flins, France, with sales starting in Europe from March 2017.