IN 1993 the Nissan Micra became the first Japanese car to win the coveted European Car of the Year title.
And in the past decade more than 1.3 million Micras have been sold in Europe, making it one of the most popular little cars in its class.
Built in the UK at Sunderland, the quirky style of the latest version is one you either love or hate. I happen to like it. And so do many others. Nissan has sold 44,000 so far this year.
Its main attributes are its reliability, the fact that it's easy to drive. that there's plenty of room, even for six-footers and that it's great around town and on the motorway.
The new Micra comes with a choice of four engine options - three petrol and two turbo diesel - five trim levels, E, S, SE, SX and SVE, plus the choice of three or five-doors.
My test car was the 1.5 dCi 82bhp five-door which is remarkably economical. I managed to squeeze 58 mpg out of the Sunderland-built city car. And many of these miles were on A-roads and motorway tarmac.
It comes with a very comprehensive level of kit, including electric power steering, electric front windows and door mirrors, powered rear tailgate release, four-speaker CD/ radio sound system, ABS Braking with Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and the rest.
It also comes with Nissan's Intelligent Key system, which allows you to open up and start the car even if the "key" is still in your pocket or handbag. I still can't make my mind up about this. The more you complicate things, the more can go haywire. I still prefer a standard key and ignition.
That aside, the Micra is fun to drive, has comfortable seats and great all-round vision.
Despite being a small car, once you're inside you feel you are in a much larger motor. Although it's shorter than the old Micra, the new model is wider and taller which means there's stacks of head, shoulder and legroom.
The instruments are clear and all the switches and controls have been designed to fall easily to hand. There is plenty of storage space and other useful features such as a multi functional glovebox, a foldaway dual cupholder in the rear and curry hook on the dash.
The Micra's turbo-diesel unit kicks out a reasonable amount of power. Enough to give it a sporty feel, especially in third gear. Top speed is claimed at 104 mph with a 0-62 mph sprint time of around 12 seconds.
Out on the open road the little Nissan takes bends extremely well with very little roll and its suspension system soaks up most bumps and potholes. It has a firm, but not jarring set-up.
Safety, especially in a small car, is all-important and Nissan claims the Micra is among the safest in class. High levels of active safety include anti-lock brakes, brake assist and ESP. It also has twin front and side airbags, curtain airbags and a high-intensity cabin structure with reinforced roof side rails, B-pillars, door sills and impact bars.
Nissan Micra 1.5dCi SE 5-dr
Mechanical: 82bhp, 1,461cc 4 cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 5-spd manual transmission
Max speed: 104mph
0-62mph: 12.9 secs
Combined mpg: 58
Insurance group: 3
CO2 emissions: 122g/km
BiK rating: 18%
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000 miles; 6yrs anti-rust; 3yrs paint