First Drive

First Drive: Nissan Micra

The story:
Nissan is seeking to capatilise on predicted increases in demand for automatic superminis with a new self-shifter for its Micra – CCT’s 2018 Supermini of the Year.
Category:Supermini
Key rival:Fort Fiesta
Nissan Micra 1.0 IG-T 100 CVT Tekna
Price:£19,790
MPG:44.8 mpg
Emissions:111g/km
On sale:Now

According to Nissan, demand for automatic gearboxes among supermini buyers will double from 2016 levels by next year, and progress from that 25% level to 30% of supermini sales by 2022.

The firm claims it is future-proofing its Micra supermini with the introduction of a new Xtronic CVT auto gearbox on the 1.0-litre 100hp petrol engine. It costs just over £1200 more than the manual ’box and adds 6g/km to the emissions figure.

The gearbox arrives with the new 1.0-litre engine, which replaces the previous 90hp unit, while a so-called warm hatch with a 117hp petrol engine has also been added to the car’s range.First Drive-August 2019-Nissan Micra-Image 3

Despite being a CVT, the Micra’s new gearbox avoids much of the noisy revving and lack of performance that many of its ilk suffer. It’s a nice, subtle powertrain that offers good pace and refinement, although that feeling of performance isn’t reflected in acceleration figures that put the Micra adrift of similar Ford Fiesta, Kia Rio and Seat Ibiza automatics.

Emissions also stack up well, with the Micra’s 111g/km being 1g/km ahead of the Ibiza’s, 6g/km clear of the Rio’s and a hefty 14g/km up on the Fiesta’s, which doesn’t have the most competitive of automatic offerings.

Insurance cost is also impressively low on the Nissan, which helps it to a very competitive whole-life cost figure, although the Kia Rio is priced well below the Micra and its main rivals, which gives it overall cost victory. Otherwise, the Micra, which launched in early 2017, still looks smart, drives nicely and has a much better interior quality than the previous-generation car.

Paul Barker

The verdict

The gearbox is a pleasant one, and places the Micra well for emissions and running costs if the rise in automatic supermini demand arrives as Nissan has predicted.