Nissan has said it wants to build a Micra Nismo, which would compete with the likes of the Fiesta ST, Renault Twingo GT and VW Polo GTI.
“We are seriously entertaining the idea [of a Nismo Micra],” Nissan Micra product manager Laurent Lamotte told Recombu Cars at the first test drive of the left-hand drive production car. “We would love to do it.”
Though nothing official has been announced, Lamotte said the release of the Micra Nismo would “depend on the success” of the standard fifth-generation Micra, which goes on sale from March 2017 in the UK.
This would actually be the second time Nissan has given the Micra a touch of Nismo loving. In 2013, a March Nismo was released as a Japan-only exclusive, where the Micra is known as the March.
The March Nismo featured a sportier steering wheel, Nismo bodystyling and a few other sporty tweaks designed to make it less ‘OAP’ and more ‘OMG’.
Given that Nissan was happy to turn the Juke crossover into a Nismo (to a few accusations the Nismo badge was being diluted), it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to envision a souped-up version of the new Micra.
Then there is the fact the new Nissan Micra has been designed with broad appeal in mind – so not just anyone with a free bus pass. A lairier version would certainly help improve desirability, but then again so would a ‘Micra R’. Although getting a GT-R engine under the pint-sized bonnet could prove difficult…
Nissan did, however, rule out an all-electric Micra, but said it was open to making a hybrid version that could make it even more economical (and certainly more expensive to buy).
We have driven the new Micra and have to say it is a capable car that is vastly superior to its predecessors, which it has to be to compete with the Fiesta – the UK’s best-selling car – and to achieve Nissan’s aim of getting it into the B-segment top-ten best-sellers list.
It is no wonder, then, Nissan actually considered ditching the Micra name altogether to distance itself from the somewhat negative image, one that was made even worse by the not-so-capable previous generation model.
Fingers crossed Nissan goes ahead with the Micra Nismo because it has the potential to be a fun, but admittedly not so pocketable pocket rocket. It is, after all, 17cm longer than its predecessor, taking the total length to 3.99 metres.
Our first impressions of the left-hand drive production car are on the way, having racked up a couple of hundred kilometres in Croatia. Stay tuned.