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New Nissan Micra shocks in Which? safety test

The all-new Nissan Micra has put in a disappointing performance in the Which? hazard avoidance test. Its behaviour in a high-speed avoidance scenario could see you facing opposing traffic for longer, or losing control of the car altogether. The fifth-generation of Nissan’s venerable Micra supermini impressed us when we first drove it back in January.

It won us over with is stylish looks, generous spec list and grown-up feel. However, our tests have revealed a flaw that could see the Micra let you down at the worst possible moment: a high-speed swerve. You can see what happens in our Nissan Micra video, below.

It’s a heart-stopping experience that no one wants to be involved in. But should the worst happen, you need to have confidence that your car remains stable and predictable, and allows you to return to your intended path as quickly as possible. Small hatchbacks generally perform well in this scenario.

Their stable front-wheel-drive set-ups and standard electronic stability systems ensure that you won’t need super-quick reactions to stay facing the right way. However, as you’ll see from our video footage, some cars perform a lot better than others, and the Nissan Micra has given us particular cause for concern. If you’re looking for a new small car, find out the models we recommend – see our best small cars[1].

Nissan Micra video – hazard avoidance footage

The Which? hazard avoidance test simulates the scenario in which a driver would have to swerve around an obstacle at the last minute.

The test is conducted at 56mph. In our video we compare the Micra to a rival model, the new Suzuki Swift[2]. The test allows us to assess how a car handles sudden changes in direction.

It’s also a test of the car’s electronic stability control (ESC), and how well it prevents the car from understeering or oversteering (turning less or more than intended, respectively), and how easy its assistance enables the driver to keep control of the vehicle. As you can see, the Micra’s rear tyres lose grip entirely after the initial steering manoeuvre, causing the car to hop violently. Our expert testers commented that it took quick reactions to keep the Micra from spinning out of control.

This isn’t something you’d expect from a car aimed at everyone – from young drivers to families. The car’s behaviour in the manoeuvre also caused damage to a front wheel, pictured below, as the car bounces back to the ground. Find out more about how we test cars[3].

Front wheel damage caused by the Micra bouncing in our hazard avoidance test

What Nissan says

Nissan[4] states that the new Micra complies with all existing vehicle safety laws and performs well in industry-standard crash tests.

A spokesperson for the company told us: ‘The safety of Nissan customers and other road users is of the highest priority. The dynamic performance of the new Nissan Micra fulfils all legislative requirements and we have had no customer complaints or incidents related to this high-speed lane-change scenario.

We continue to monitor market feedback. In the UK, the Micra has been awarded the maximum five stars by independent test organisation Euro NCAP.’

Did the Which? car tests reveal anything else?

Other than its eyebrow-raising performance in the high-speed avoidance test, the Micra received generally positive comments from our testers. They were particularly impressed with the minimal body-roll during cornering, its steering feel and weight and decent flexibility from its tiny 0.9-litre engine.

To get the full Which? verdict on the new Micra, head to our Nissan Micra (2017-) review[5].

References

  1. ^ best small cars (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Suzuki Swift (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ how we test cars (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Nissan (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ Nissan Micra (2017-) review (www.which.co.uk)

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