BMW’s Mini and the classic Mini are chalk and cheese in most technical respects but they share one overriding feature – the name’s the same. So it is with Nissan’s fifth-generation Micra supermini.

Previous versions, which date back to the debut of the model in Europe in 1983, won over buyers as diverse as ageing grandmothers, impoverished students and driving school instructors.

The badge stays the same but the new model is bigger, much more luxurious and packed with technology, moving the Micra into a different league.

And that large car look and feel translates into the driving experience with the MIcra delivering the ride and handling of a larger car.

Longer, wider and lower, the five-door only hatchback has a classy interior with two-tone, soft-touch materials as standard across the range.

So the outright nippiness and light feel of some its predecessors has been replaced by a more refined and confident balance that comes to the fore in long distance travel.

The car is available with three engines – two petrol and one diesel – all linked to a five-speed manual gearbox and a choice of five specification grades of Visia, Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna.

The N-Connecta test car sported a range of technology usually associated with more expensive models – including 'intelligent lane intervention’, a safety system which gently corrects the Micra back on to the right path should it be required and a camera system that lets you see all round the car.

Riding on 16-inch alloy wheels, and comes with electric folding heated door mirrors, privacy glass, leather-trimmed steering wheel, automatic air-conditioning and a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system.

The strong, sharp styling is a world away from the cute and cuddly image associated with the Micra. At the rear are striking new boomerang-shaped light clusters and below them is a sculpted bumper which features a carbon-look finish as standard and hides the car’s exhaust pipe. Above is a sports-style rear roof spoiler.

The safety technology packed into the little car is from a much higher league and every new Micra comes with intelligent lane intervention, intelligent emergency braking with pedestrian recognition, traffic sign recognition and high beam assist.

It also comes with six airbags as standard, plus seat belt warnings and seat belt height adjustment for the front and rear. Electronic safety systems include electronic stability program, anti-lock brakes, and hill start assist. A speed limiter, automatic headlight sensor, automatic hazard lights and a tyre pressure monitoring system are also fitted to every Micra.

For music fans, a highlight is the Bose Personal audio system which has a pair of speakers built into the driver’s head rest. The new Micra is manufactured at Renault’s plant at Flins, west of Paris, home to the Renault Clio and Renault Zoe models and is the first Nissan car ever to be built at a Renault plant in Europe.


Auto facts

Model: Nissan Micra N-Connecta dCi 90

Price: £17,920

Insurance group: Eight (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 88.3mpg

Top speed: 111mph

Length: 400cm/157.5in

Width: 174.3cm/68.6n

Luggage capacity: 10.6 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: Nine gallons/41 litres

CO2 emissions: 104 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles