The New Nissan Micra N-Sport: Turn The Stereotype Off

I spent a couple of days in Lisbon last week road testing the new Nissan Micra N-Sport. Initial thoughts were how agile this Nissan Micra N-Sport is for a 1 litre engine. Being a car designed for the city, it's crucial to have the agility, response and dynamism.

You want to be making sharp manoeuvres in the city to counteract congestion. Especially in London where the average speed is around 4mph, you need to have precision as your feet will be permanently engaged with the car. 

As well as delivering ‘More Micra’ than ever before, each new version offers improved powertrain refinement and response on all road surfaces and in all driving conditions.

Helen Perry, general manager, small cars, Nissan Europe, said: “With a greater focus on efficiency and performance, these new models further broaden the appeal of the Nissan Micra N-Sport. We are now in a position to better meet the needs of Europe’s compact hatchback customers.”

Did it exceed my expectations? 

In a word yes. I can't stress enough how easy and responsive this car was for a 1 litre. I was expecting a little drag, some latency, but this completely transformed my assumptions of the 1 litre. The pull-away is incredibly smooth and notably the in-gear acceleration. 

What I also liked was the road noise isolation. The cabin is noticeably quiet which I love. Especially living and driving in the city where there is a cacophony of horns and irritable road maintenance. 

Inside the seats are part Alcantara leather which is a synthetic material composed of 68% polyester and 32% polyurethane. Importantly it's comfortable, soft to the touch and fire retardant which why it's all the rage with the Formula 1 industry.

There is also some neat upgrades to make my life easier. Some rear view parking cameras will help me negotiate those tight parking spots. 

How does this compare to other City cars? 

The new Nissan Micra N-Sport is positioned in the heart of the ‘warm hatch’ category occupied by contenders such as the Ford Fiesta ST Line, VW Polo R-Line, Peugeot 208 GT Line and SEAT Ibiza FR.

It's available with all three new powertrains – the 1.0-litre IG-T 100 PS manual and Xtronic, plus the DIG-T 117 PS manual. It is available in four distinct body colours – Passion Red, Solid White, Echo Grey and Enigma Black.

For the price it's a fantastic value. I enjoyed driving it around in Lisbon immensely. It's nippy, it's practical, it's economical and has a very accessible price point. RRP £17k.

The New Morgan 3 Wheeler: Pod Racer, Fighter Plane, Speeding Bullet or Car?

The New Morgan 3 Wheeler has arrived. I know what you're saying, but Carl, I already have a car and it has 4 wheels! Why do I need another with a lower spec? So much about driving nowadays is geared towards functionality. Conveniently placed beverage cup holders, ergonomically designed bucket seats, heated steering wheels etc. But as Tom Hanks said in the movie Big, 'What's so fun about that?' 

The Morgan 3 Wheeler has been updated with 21st Century technology and is designed for one purpose alone, to make driving fun.

A leather padded cockpit complete with aircraft instrumentation adds to the sense of flying on the road. You'll feel more like Biggles than Mr Big, but that's fine. This car will draw all the right attention. I got countless waves and nods from people on the London streets today.

From the design viewpoint, the focus was set on making the car as close to an aeroplane as possible, while retaining handy extra space for driver, passenger and a holdall in the rear. Although don't expect much too much boot space. 

It does that Sunday drive feel and look to it. Or should I say 'race on Sunday'. Although race responsibly folks, in go karts, or on designated disused runways. 

The smooth profile makes the car look sleeker and lower. The pronounced bullet shape and the exposed chassis and aluminium tub are accompanied by the aeroplane profile of the car’s sides.

The shape is of a gentle yet powerful missile at the front leading to a beetle back tail at the rear.

Because it's rear wheel it can be a little lively on the rear axle. But that's to be expected the car is easy to control with compact dimensions offering a perfect view ahead and to the rear.

The gearbox is a lot of fun; I mean a lot fun! The powertrain is a V Twin fuel injected engine mated to a Mazda 5 speed (and reverse) gearbox. It's possibly one of the most exhilarating experiences I've had on the road. And yes I'm including that time when I did a J-Turn out of Waitrose car park.

It handles better than you'd expect for what looks like a couple of bicycle wheels up front. With an economical 1 15 horsepower the motor provides maximum power at minimum revs.

All in all it's a car that is brimming with swashbuckling spirit. I doubt it could be your only car you own. You might not want the white knuckle ride every time you pop down the shops. And I wouldn't expect too much from the car in terms of technology inside the cockpit. You very much feel like it's you, the car, the road and that it. 

The result is a driver’s car with properties that do the sporting appearance full justice.

The time is right for Morgan to relaunch the 3 Wheeler. Price £25,000 before tax Bespoke extras Bespoke leather and paint are available at extra cost as on the classic Morgan.

The MAZDA CX-5 Review by Car Enthusiast Carl Thompson

That's right, Mazda called again, told the imaginary secretary to put the president on hold, I have Mazda on line two. You might have caught my review of the Mazda MX-5 RF last month, this time around I'm saddling up in the CX-5. The CX-5 2.2d 2WD to be exact, one down from the tip of the spear which is the AWD. 

The CX-5 has a leaner feel to it than its predecessors. It has an artfulness, a very sleek, lean bonnet and exaggerated mesh with an almost basket weave grill. It has a certain menace to it which I like. The undulating bar on the grill blends seamlessly into the headlights, a nice touch along with the other chrome trims which subtly punctuates the cars profile.

Ok Carl, I get it, enough about the trims, tell me about the cup holders! Well the coffee cup holders are plentiful. Two in the front by the centre consul, rubberised at the bottom, and two in the real in the arm rest. Jackpot. Another thing I want to mention about the front centre consul are the 'run throughs'. Meaning I can charge my phone in the USB port provided (4 in the car in total) tuck the cable away and have the cable run through the consul and into my phone that's in the coffee cup holder. God bless you Mazda. 

People have been asking me about the protruding stand-alone screen you see in modern cars these days. The Mazda has a nice stand-alone screen minus the cowl that would otherwise blend into the dashboard. Granted some people prefer that look, I prefer to have better visibility and because the technology has moved on a notch, we no longer need the cowl. We can have a lower dashboard design, which means you can actually get greater visibility. 

The seats are soft, perforated in the middle and has heated seats along with the steering wheel. It also looks tasteful in black, I've seen some cream leather interiors for this model, which I actually prefer cosmetically, but I know these black seats would be more practical to hide any unwanted blemishes. 

The drive itself has a gorgeous fluidity. I'm not talking about the performance, which you'd expect from a Mazda, but the car reacts very reassuringly. I've heard that there is an entire team in Mazda called the 'Jinba Ittai' division. Their sole purpose is to make you feel good behind the wheel. How that is quantifiable I'm not sure, but simply, I ask the question, I like the response. 

The Premium Bose sound system has 10 precisely positioned speakers. The vocal imagery was very central, but not bunched. I enjoyed the range spectrally, (bass, middle and treble) and couldn't detect any buzz, squeaks or rattles when I gave it the Nigel 11 (Spinal Tap gag). If I'm honest I'll probably say the Harman Kardon system impressed me more spatially when I was in another car the other week, but there were 15 speakers and I wasn't driving so perhaps that the pleasure of listening more acutely. 

One tiny other niggle, is the rear of the car. I love the boot space. If you fold down the seats there is an orgy of space, you could do a house move in this car. But the rear lights are a little diminutive for my liking, makes it a little too 'cutesy'. Other than that, I was enamoured with the performance and the style of this car. Another slick delivery from Mazda.