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Nissan Micra Hatchback engines, drive and performance

2010 - 2017 (change model)
Performance rating: 2 out of 52.0

Written by Simon McBride Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

Nissan originally said that only one petrol engine would be available: a 79bhp three-cylinder 1.2-litre engine with a five-speed manual gearbox or the option of an automatic Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT). The manual ‘box is by far the best option available because the CVT is overly noisy and will soon irritate after a few miles of driving.

The version with the manual box will complete the 0 to 62mph benchmark time in 13.7 seconds while the car with the CVT gearbox will get there in 14.5 seconds. The Micra has a top speed of 105mph with the manual gearbox and it will top-out at 100mph with the automatic ‘box.

Overtaking traffic on single lanes is hard work, (less so with the manual ‘box) and because there is a distinct absence of oomph manouevres need to be well thought out.

Supercharged version introduced

In July 2011, Nissan added the 96bhp 1.2-litre petrol-powered DIG-S (Direct Injection Gasoline-Supercharged) Micra. Compared to the standard car, the DIG-S is much quicker. It will complete the 0 to 62mph dash in 11.3s and has a top speed of 112mph.

To CVT or not to CVT

Nissan offers the Micra with a five-speed manual gearbox or, in place of a more traditional automatic transmission, a CVT (continuous variable transmission). In theory, the CVT should be seamless and oh-so easy to live with, but it’s noisy, sluggish and saps any remaining driving pleasure from the Micra.

So, the five-speed manual is the gearbox to go for, which is a decision made all the easier as the manual is more economical and enjoys lower emissions whether you choose it with the standard 1.2 or 1.2 DIG-S motor.

Parkers recommends

There’s no doubt in our minds the 1.2 DIG-S engine with a manual gearbox is the head and shoulders best car in the Micra range.

This is a city car and that is where the Micra should remain. It is never going to compete with the Skoda Fabia, Ford Fiesta or the Suzuki Swift when it comes to handling. There is too much body roll when cornering and the car never feels well set-up.

Even though the roads were fairly smooth on the test route we think that it might struggle on the UK’s poor-surfaced carriageways.

The steering is light, making parking and tight manoeuvres a breeze, but when it gets up to speed it should weight up more than it does.