The 64bhp version of the 1.5 dCi Micra was available within weeks of the car's launch at the beginning of 2003, but now Nissan is offering a higher output version of the engine with better fuel consumption and lower carbon dioxide emissions.
Nissan readily admits it has shied away from the GTi brigade with the Micra, although there are plans to rectify this with the new diesel getting close to 'warm-hatch' performance, if not yet hot hatch.
Indeed, at the same event where the new diesel Micra was available both for road and track driving at Silverstone, Nissan unveiled a specially prepared racing version of the supermini.
Prepared by racing team Ray Mallock, the Micra R uses a mid-engine rear-wheel drive layout. The engine in question is a 261bhp 2.0-litre touring car engine. There is a touring car-style sequential manual transmission, 18-inch alloy wheels and racing brakes.
The whole purpose of the car is to draw attention to the Micra and to lay the groundwork for more glamourous models, although there are no plans for a production version of the R.
The new diesel builds on what we already like about the Micra. The interior is spacious for a small car, the fixtures and fittings are distinctive but feel more robust than those in many other cars in this class.
An intercooler has been fitted to liberate the extra 17bhp, but it also makes the engine more fuel-efficient, while carbon dioxide emissions fall below the magic 120g/km figure ensuring the higher output car qualifies for a lower VED rate than the standard diesel.
The new engine endows the Micra with lively performance. It is more responsive right across the rev range, although the five-speed transmission has been unchanged.
Driving on the motorway still sounds like the end of the world – as it does in the 64bhp version – although now it doesn't quite feel like it too.
With the possible exception of the Ford Fiesta, the Nissan Micra offers the most driving enjoyment in its class.
The steering is ultra-light at parking speeds and resistance builds as speed increases. Body roll is well controlled and the ride quality is excellent.
It seemed a surprisingly agile track car, and even if it didn't have the composure of the race version, it at least offered better fuel economy – the trip computer read 26mpg after repeated hot laps.
On my brief drive around Northamptonshire I tried to achieve an even better figure, and while my outward leg from Silverstone in relatively heavy traffic was in the high 50s mpg, I went for a high reading on my return leg and scored 84.7mpg according to the trip computer.
An average reading above 60mpg in everyday driving should be easy to achieve, although the main reason for choosing this diesel version would be for the extra performance.
The latest Micra with its 'cutie pie' looks has helped reduce the age profile of the average buyer by seven years, although it is still well in the fifties.
However, perhaps a result of its appearance, the percentage of female drivers is much higher than males.
Higher performance models could be a way of redressing the balance.
Model: Micra 1.5 dCi 82bhp
Engine (cc): 1,461
Max power (bhp/rpm): 81/4,000
Max torque (lb-ft): 136/2,000
Max speed (mph): 106
0-62mph (sec): 12.9
Fuel consumption (mpg): 62.3
CO2 emissions (g/km): 119
Fuel tank (l/gal): 46/10.1
Transmission: 5-sp man
Service interval (miles): 18,000
On sale: Now
Price (OTR): £10,195-£11,695