IT’S quite possibly the single most radical transformation of a car I can recall.

The changes to Nissan’s enduring small hatchback, the Micra, are such that it is unrecognisable when compared with the previous fourth generation, which in itself was a million miles away from the very first version that landed on these shores.

Nissan rightly describes these changes as “quite simply a revolution” – and you don’t have to look far to see in what direction this overhaul is taking the Japanese company’s smallest offering.

If you thought the new Micra was more like the Ford Fiesta, the UK’s biggest-selling car by a country mile, then you would be bang on the money. For this is Nissan’s bid to woo some of those Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa customers.

The launch range of the new Micra was completed in the summer with the arrival of a 1.0-litre 71PS entry-level model. It joined the 0.9-litre 90PS three-cylinder turbo petrol and the 1.5-litre 90PS four-cylinder diesel, tested here.

Nissan’s official fuel economy figures suggest that the diesel-engined Micra will achieve an average of 80mpg, but I failed to squeeze any more than 70mpg out of the tank. Still impressive, though. As eye-catching as this is the CO2 emissions figure of 92g/km.

Longer, wider and lower than before, with a longer wheelbase, key to the new Micra’s appeal is the more modern exterior design and its classy interior, which boasts two-tone soft-touch materials across the range.

Every Micra is fitted with a system that can detect a slowing or stopping vehicle ahead and automatically apply the brakes. Depending on the relative speeds, this can avoid an impact or reduce the severity.

Add to this an audio system that features speakers built into the driver’s head rest for a 360-degree sound experience and you might begin to appreciate exactly how much attention to every aspect of the driving experience has been paid.

If you want to modify the exterior and interior with premium components in a variety of colours, that’s OK too.

Nissan’s familiar five grades of Visia, Visia+, Acenta, N-Connecta and Tekna all feature a high level of standard specification.

Featuring a sculpted body with strong and sharp character lines, the car has an athletic stance, helped by a shortened bonnet design.

The narrow headlamps stretch through the front wings and include signature LED daytime running lights on every trim level.

Inside, those soft-touch materials and the use of strong colours alongside some impressive features make for a most welcoming sight. For example, the premium detailing includes a D-shaped multi-function steering wheel and chrome finishing on the door handles and air vents.

The rake/reach-adjustable steering wheel is standard, while the lowered seating position for driver and front passenger mean there’s plenty of headroom for taller occupants.

Smart storage options are everywhere, and include a 10-litre glove box has been specifically shaped to take a two-litre drinks bottle. Air-conditioning is standard on all but the entry level model, with automatic air-conditioning available on the higher grades.

Customers control many of the new Micra’s features using the infotainment system, located high up in the centre of the dashboard, with higher grade models getting the NissanConnect system and the lowest two grades coming equipped with Display Audio.

The first Japanese model to win the European Car of the Year title in 1993, the Micra has morphed into car with the potential to emulate the success of its crossover siblings, the Qashqai and the Juke. The crossovers have taken centre stage in Nissan’s strategy for several years, but now it is the Micra’s turn to shine in the spotlight.