Open gallery Close by Simon Davis 8 March 2022 Follow @simondavisnz Share
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When the current, fifth-generation version of the Nissan Micra supermini first hit UK roads in 2017, the Nissan’s appearance suggested this N-Sport might be coming.
Gone were the effete, bug-eyed curves of generations gone by, ditched for a much more edgy, wedgey, arrowhead aesthetic that, though contemporary, looked less authentic on the car, according to some estimations. Whether they seem to belong on a Micra or not, however, the car’s new youthful, sporting looks undoubtedly lend themselves to a performance makeover; and, as evidenced by this week’s road test subject, the go-faster treatment is exactly what the Micra has now got.
The N-Sport bodystyling has to translate onto the IG-T 100 engine, which perhaps is why it isn’t more visually purposefulSimon DavisRoad tester
As part of the car’s first mid-life update, a couple of new engines have been added to the model range, with an Xtronic CVT two-pedal transmission made available in anticipation of growing interest in automatic-equipped superminis. Some equipment and trim revisions have been brought in too, which we’ll also get into over the following pages.
But it’s the Micra N-Sport that’s the headline addition. This derivative becomes the first product from the Renault -Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance to feature the 1.0-litre three-cylinder version of the new petrol engine family developed in tandem with Daimler and, in 1.3-litre form, already used to power both the Nissan Qashqai and the Mercedes A-Class. It moves the Micra onto peak power of 115bhp – enough to stand comparison with cars like the Ford Fiesta ST-Line and Seat Ibiza FR. As you’re about to read, the N-Sport also benefits from changes to the technical specification of the suspension, steering and transmission, and from upgrades to the exterior styling and cabin.
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Time to find out what kind of junior driver’s car can be made from this newly assertive-looking supermini, then.
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Nissan Micra N-Sport 2019 first drive
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Outwardly, the N-Sport differs little from any other Micra – but, given the K14-generation model rewrote the Micra style book (sharpening the pudgy proportions while increasing both its height and length) and this latest version is a mere refresh, wholesale changes were never expected. Visual alterations are instead largely limited to carbonfibre-style finishing on the wheels and door mirrors, along with gloss-black bumper inserts, and the five-door Micra continues to disguise its rear doors by integrating its handles into the C-pillar trim.
Nissan’s engineers cannot be accused of sitting on their hands, however, because underneath the bonnet sits an all-new engine that makes this N-Sport the most powerful Micra yet. Admittedly, this is in the same vein as being the most practical Lamborghini, or the fastest snowplough, but in the context of a front-driven supermini that tips the scales at less than a tonne, 115bhp nevertheless seems promising.
An over-square three-cylinder turbocharged petrol, this 1.0-litre DIG-T unit uses a compact ‘delta’ cylinder head and spray coating for the cylinder bores (molten iron instead of solid, and far thicker, cast-iron liners), while the turbo benefits from electric actuators. Compared with the old 0.9-litre petrol, there’s also direct fuel injection, variable valve timing for intake and exhaust and a higher compression ratio, though this trio of technologies is found on the lesser – but also new, and similarly sized – 99bhp IG-T engine too. The resulting 133lb ft from 1750rpm, with 15lb ft of overboost, pushes the N-Sport into ‘warm’ supermini territory, joining the Volkswagen Up GTI, Suzuki Swift Sport and Ford Fiesta ST-Line.
The aesthetic additions N-Sport trim brings can be optioned for any 1.0-litre Micra, though the most powerful version uniquely benefits from chassis tweaks to improve the driving experience. The suspension – passively damped, and using the same MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear architecture as any other Micra in the range – sits the car 10mm lower with firmer spring rates for greater body control.