RAC Cars News


New Nissan Micra On The Way

By raccars Published

Finding yourself trundling along behind a Nissan Micra is many a driver's idea of hell, but the Japanese brand's first supermini has had a strong presence on UK roads for 30 years now. The original Micra replaced the popular Nissan Cherry and within a few years, had cut a swathe through the burgeoning supermini market segment and was particularly popular with young drivers.

The first Micra won applause for its sharp, angular design and perky performance, an attempt by Nissan to appeal directly to the European market, but it was an international success. Foreign markets saw sporty and cabriolet special editions, but in the UK the Micra has usually commanded a more staid customer. Later versions have become progressively curvier and softer around the edges. After numerous updates over the decades, we're about to see details of the Micra's latest revisions.

While there has always been a solid group of hardcore Nissan Micra fans, the current version has been criticised in two areas: quality and looks. As a result, Nissan has taken great care to address those particular issues while planning the revisions. Apparently, the recent, overly-feminine styling is to be beefed up and materials used are going to be higher-end all round.

The changes are designed to help the Micra appeal to a wider market, although Nissan has denied recent sales have been disappointing. It claims international sales have been strong, particularly of the 1.2 litre supercharged unit.

With the brand's more modern vehicles, such as the electric Leaf and the small SUVs, the Juke and Qashqai, doing so well, plus a new, VW Golf-challenging small hatchback due next year, the Micra is arguably way down the priorities list for Nissan. However, it seems the Japanese manufacturer realises you neglect your base models at your peril and has promised some serious attention to its original supermini.

The changes will be largely Euro-centric, to reflect the higher standard of finish expected here, that doesn't seem to have quite such an effect on international sales. Different models will be manufactured reflecting the divergence in expectations of different international markets. Nissan claims its different Micra models will be tailored specifically to mature or emerging markets.

Most European models will be made in France, using space at a current Renault plant, but British, right-hand drive versions will be made in India. Nissan is also planning a new sub-Micra supermini for the international market, that will not be available in Britain.

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