The latest, fourth generation Nissan Micra is a huge step-change from its dour predecessor, and a welcome return to form for the Japanese manufacturer. The latest European sales figures for the Micra suggest that consumers appreciate the new car, with sales over the past few months being almost twice as high as they were for the old model in 2016. A huge part of the new model’s appeal is its exterior styling – it is as bold as the third-generation model was shapeless. What’s more, it looks coherent even though the designers seem to have thrown every single design cues that’s trendy: strong character lines, creases, hidden rear door handles and a blacked-out C-pillar. Combined, they all give the Micra a look that’s unique in almost every way.
I say “almost”, because in one way the Micra immediately reminded me of the facelifted Ford Kuga/Escape – the rear lights and hatch. Now, this is no bad thing – the cars belong to different classes, and in fact the rear lights are a very attractive aspect of the Micra, being better resolved overall than on the Ford. However, between the arrow-like inside shape of the lights, their elongated top element that runs forward on the side of the car, the hexagonal rear window and the concave shapes just above the license plate, I find it hard to unsee the similarity once I got it into my head.
Part of me also wishes Nissan went bolder still, and kept the license plate in the rear bumper, just as the Sway concept that previewed the Micra had done. In that car, this allowed for the rear hatch below the window to have a nice, strong shape that reminds me of the second-generation Renault Megane, one of my all-time favorite mainstream designs.