Road test: Nissan Micra 1.2 Tekna

The last two generations of Micra have earned a following with British motorists because of their modern styling mated with durable build quality and sturdy engines.

They were also British-built, but it's all-change now, as an all-new, Indian-built, globally-available Micra was launched earlier this year. I spent a week with a five-door, £12,891, 1.2 Tekna to see how it competes against rivals.

Nissan appear to have played it safe with the styling of the latest Micra, it's almost a backwards step as there's nothing new about the design. At the front, the high-set headlights look similar to the last version, but with the new grille at the front the baby Nissan does at least have a face – even if it's a dull one!

There's nothing remarkable about the side and rear styling either, which is quite surprising considering other distinctive models in the Nissan range such as the Juke and the all-electric Leaf.

Our test car was fitted with the only engine available for the UK market at the moment, a 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol engine with 79bhp. Emissions of 115g/km and 56.5mpg fuel consumption figures are good, but the Micra is no class leader.

The Micra's electrically-assisted steering is light and accurate, but isn't as responsive as the class best. Still, it makes parking a doddle and feels light on the motorway.

Nissan appears to have engineered the Micra to be comfortable rather than a dynamic handler. As such the ride is smooth and is unaffected by potholes and road scars.

In its quest for global domination, build quality appears to have taken a back seat in the latest Micra. Not that it feels badly put together, but the worst part is the shiny, brittle plastics on the steering wheel, dashboard and door cards which is very poor. The Tekna might be at the top of the Micra range, but it doesn't feel as luxurious as the class best.

Still, the mechanicals should be tough and the Micra should follow Nissan's reputation for reliability.

The 1.2-litre petrol engine doesn't sound like a three-cylinder at idle, but the typical thrum becomes more obvious as the revs rise. This engine gives its best at lower revs, but if your eardrums can handle it there is a little more performance to be found at the top end of the rev-range.

The clutch and gearbox are designed for ease of use rather than pleasure, 60mph comes up in a rather lesiurely 13.7 seconds and on to a top speed of 106mph.

Interior space in the Micra is adequate rather than spacious, rear space is good and the 265 litre boot is a similar size to rivals.

Still, at least the 1.2-litre petrol Micra is frugal with a Combined consumption figure of 56.5mpg.

Out test car was in the range-topping Tekna trim, that included alloy wheels, sat-nav, cruise control and climate control. Add the ivory trim option (£100), as with this test car and this includes heated seats and chromed interior door handles.

The Micra's standard stereo/sat-nav has adequate sound quality and the maps are reasonably detailed considering the small screen, but it's really nothing special.

To sum up, if you're after a supermini that's the class average in most areas, well-equipped and reasonably priced the latest Nissan Micra might just be for you. Sadly, for me there are so many great cars in this class and the Micra is so mediocre that my money would go elsewhere. However, I'm sure die-hard Micra owners will love it.

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