The Ford Fiesta was always the go-to if you wanted a fun, reasonably practical supermini. But how does the 2017 model stack up against the new Nissan Micra? Recombu Cars has driven both – here’s which one is best for you.
If you want a supermini, the new Nissan Micra and new Ford Fiesta are worth a look. Both scored well in our Recombu Cars reviews and are among the best in their class. Neither costs the earth if you are careful with the spec and engine choice.
But how do they stack up against each other? Having been among the first to drive both, we decided it was time to highlight their respective strenghts and weaknesses so that you can (hopefully) make a more informed decision.
Ford Fiesta vs Nissan Micra: Design & desirability
The Ford Fiesta is the best-selling car in the UK and has been for the past eight years, which is why they are absolutely everywhere. But that never seems to put people off from buying them.
For the 2017 model year, the new Fiesta has a much neater interior devoid of quite so many buttons. It also has a more toned down exterior design, with new rear lights giving it a whiff of the Ford C-Max. We like the cleaner look, but some have said it is more forgettable.
In the case of the 2017 Micra, it is vastly different to look at. Where the old car looked awkward and dreary, the new design is trendy and loud. Who ever thought the Micra would ever be described as cool?
The interior is excellent, too. In both cars you get a bit of colour here and there and relatively few cheap plastics. It feels as if the Fiesta and Micra are the class leaders, especially as you can bestow both with various customsation options to make them more personal and even more plush.
Neither car has any particular design issues to speak of, so really it comes down to looks. In this area, the new Fiesta is seemingly more appealing to older folk, while the new Micra has gone the other way and become more desirable for the ‘yout’. It is a tough call and too subjective.
As for creature comforts, you can have both cars with rather fancy sound systems. In the Fiesta it’s a 10-speaker B&O jobby, which sounds good but not great, and a Bose system in the Micra, which includes speakers in the front headrests to help produce a surround sound.
Ford Fiesta vs Nissan Micra: Practicality
Boot space first. You get 292 litres in the new Fiesta, which is more than last time. The new Micra, meanwhile, has another eight litres so you can do a reasonable shopping trip in both. Both offer a 60:40 folding rear seat for added versatility.
Rear head room in the Fiesta is seriously impeded by the optional panoramic roof. Without it and things are much better. Leg room is, however, hardly generous in both cars but both have improved on their predecessors.
High levels of driver-seat adjustability in both cars make it easy to fit taller folk or just get comfortable. It also means you can hunker down for a more involving drive in the case of the Fiesta, as opposed to being oddly high up as you are in the Focus.
Both superminis also offer similar levels of cubby hole space, cup holders and glove box storage potential so neither will ever offend but, at the same time, you will be reminded they are superminis and not miracle workers.
Winner: 2017 Nissan Micra
Ford Fiesta vs Nissan Micra: Ride quality & handling
The new Nissan Micra really surprised us because the last model, ‘built for the world’ as Nissan has describes it, was sub-par. The new one is anything but. In fact, the handling makes it feel more balanced and mature – characteristics more typically associated with a bigger car.
The steering is vague but up for the job, while the suspension, though sometimes a tad too spongey, keeps everyone comfortable. Its engines are a bit revvy, owing to small power outputs, but the cabin noise can be kept low if you work the gears.
Overall refinement is a strong suit of the new Micra, it must be said, so those looking for a relatively uninvolving A to B runaround will find it hard to fault, especially as the five-speed manual gearbox does the job and the brakes are progressive.
In camp Fiesta, we can also see a level of maturity previously missing. The cabin is much quieter and the suspension feels more grown up, more capable of soaking up bad roads, but without ruining that eager feeling.
Even on the bigger 17-inchers of the firmer ST-Line, never once did the new Fiesta feel harsh or out of its depth. The softer Vignale and Titanium, meanwhile, proved even smoother and more comfortable without being that much less fun to drive.
Torque vectoring helps the Fiesta to perform even better and the 140PS Ecoboost petrol engine is an absolute joy to use. Just noisy and torquey enough to get a petrolhead going and fast enough to make you smile, with the new six-speed manual gearbox letting you make quick changes.
Both the new Micra and new Fiesta have really become more complete cars when it comes to handling, but for us a supermini should be fun and the latter’s eagerness to please, more likable engines and overall composure make it our preferred choice.
Winner: 2017 Ford Fiesta
Ford Fiesta vs Nissan Micra: UK cost & specs
A new Nissan Micra will set you back from £11,995 for the Visia and a 1.0-litre petrol, although you can quite easily head towards £15,000 once you have specced the superior diesel and some creature comforts.
You do at least get a reasonable number of standard extras on the entry-level Micra Visia, including Intelligent Emergency Braking, Intelligent Lane Intervention, electric door mirrors, two-tone dash, two-speaker sound system and LED daytime running lights.
In the case of the new Ford Fiesta, prices start at £12,715 for an entry-level style with an entry-level petrol. A 4.2-inch infotainment display, daytime running lights, Lane-Keeping Alert, My Key and steel wheels are standard extras.
At the base level, then, the new Micra is safer and slightly better value for money. If you want the most frugal diesel, the Micra and its 90hp DCI 90 starts from £14,315 compared to the Fiesta’s and its 85PS 1.5-litre TDCi, which starts at £14,795.
The good thing about the Fiesta is that you can spec the 140PS petrol, which is peppy and relatively good on fuel (a claimed 62.8mpg combined).
In the case of the Micra, the petrol engines are somewhat underpowered, which means taking a gamble on the diesel or coping with a lack of performance. The sort of performance that can make steep hills problematic and force lots of gear changes on you.
In short, the diesel (up to 88mpg) is the pick of the Micra bunch but that means it could soon become less financially attractive if the Government decides to penalise them. The petrols, meanwhile, are cheap but your options are limited and they are somewhat slow.
The diesel Fiesta is good (also up to 88mpg), too, but may suffer the same financial fate. Luckily its petrol engines are powerful and frugal enough to make them viable, especially when you reach Vignale and ST-Line level.
Ford Fiesta vs Nissan Micra: Which is best?
The Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra are more evenly matched these days and a case could easily be made for either, depending on your circumstances. For practicality at the lowest price, the new Micra is the winner, thanks to a fairly drastic overhaul that extended to the looks.
But for a supermini that makes you grin, the new Ford Fiesta is still the king – especially if you whack in the 140PS EcoBoost. It does, however, look less sporty, which may upset some of the younger buyers. In some ways, you could say the Micra and Fiesta have swapped places.
Given the relatively close price difference, similar practicality and the superior handling of the Fiesta, it is the supermini we would go for. But anyone who is pulled in by the new Micra’s aggressive looks will be anything but disappointed.
Overall winner: 2017 Ford Fiesta