The entry-level 1.0-litre Micra is affordable, but certainly isnâ€™t fastâ€¦
Nissan Micra 1.0 71PS
Engine: 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, petrol
Torque: 70lb ft
Gearbox: 5-spd manual
Kerb weight: 1037kg
Top speed: 98mph
CO2 rating: 103g/km
This new 1.0-litre Nissan Micra variant is an important addition to the range. To date, only two engines have been offered, either a 0.9-litre turbo petrol or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel. The new non-turbo 1.0-litre lowers the lead-in price for the range and, crucially, undercuts chief rivals such as the Ford Fiesta and Seat Ibiza.
Compared to the 0.9-litre, losing the turbo saves around Â£1,000, which counts for a lot in a car sector where every penny counts. And, on paper, the 70bhp power output doesnâ€™t compare too badly to the 89bhp produced by both the turbo alternatives. Particularly as the lower output means the Micra 1.0-litre becomes the cheapest car in its class to insure.
However, thereâ€™s a price to be paid, in terms of performance. Or, rather, a lack of it. Now, we fully recognise that buyers of this car will be going into it with their eyes open. They wonâ€™t be expecting headline-grabbing pace and hot hatch-chasing prowess.
But when even the turbo models were earlier criticised by us for their lack of pace, itâ€™s perhaps inevitable that performance is going to be the chief grumble of the 1.0-litre. 70bhp just doesnâ€™t go very far in small cars these days, but more galling is the lack of a turbocharger to boost the motorâ€™s pulling power.
In the city, it lacks off-the-line shove and low-speed vim, meaning itâ€™s harder work than youâ€™d think. And on the motorway, it soon gives up the fight against wind resistance, making long journeys often ones of foot-to-the-floor battles. Only if youâ€™re really undemanding and stately will the lowest-power Micra not disappoint.
In such easygoing situations, it proves a fuss-free partner. The engine is pretty refined if you donâ€™t rev it hard, and what performance it does have to offer is served up with decent sophistication. We liked the snappy, light-throw gearbox too, making it easy to keep the motor spinning in and around its 3,500rpm sweet spot.
Itâ€™s much nicer here than it is when youâ€™re chasing peak power, which doesnâ€™t arrive until a loud and noisy 6,300rpm. And if youâ€™re planning to go overtaking in the 1.0-litre Micra, well, forget it â€“ unless the road is very long and very well sighted indeed.
Frankly, we feel the 0.9-litre version is by far the better bet, simply because choosing the 1.0-litre would leave you with a car that most of the time is too much like hard work.
Thereâ€™s a place for the 1.0-litre, as a price-busting alternative to the cheapest Fiestas and Ibizas. For buyers of such cars, the Micra will rightly appear a bit of a bargain. Our advice is to haggle hard with a dealer to try and get some money off a 0.9-litre though, and do whatever you can to make up the extra. It will be money very well spent.