The new shape Nissan Micra was introduced at the beginning of 2011 and is Nissan's first 'world car'. That means that cars sold in India, Mexico and China will be almost identical to cars sold all over Europe. That allows for a lower price-tag but critics suggest the styling has suffered, as has the interior quality. It is available with a choice of two 1.2-litre petrol engines - the DIG-S version is fitted with a supercharger, which gives a good balance of performance and economy.
The Nissan Note is a spacious and practical supermini-MPV alternative to a standard family hatchback like the Ford Focus. The Nissan Note is extremely practical, with sliding rear seats and a large interior offering enough space for the needs of a small family. All models come with high levels of standard kit, and there are three engines to choose from. The smallest 1.2-litre petrol engine struggles if you fill the car with passengers and luggage, so the best choice is the 1.5-litre diesel, which gives the Nissan Note big-car performance to match its big-car cabin.
The Nissan Juke is a stylish, interesting alternative to a regular supermini. The Nissan Juke is available with three engines. Pricing and specification for entry-level, front-wheel-drive cars compares well to conventional rivals like the Ford Fiesta – while top spec 4x4 models, which have a powerful 1.6-litre turbocharged petrol engine, rival the likes of the MINI Countryman. The Nissan Juke is unique to look at, but it's entertaining to drive and surprisingly practical, and well worth considering as a car that breaks new ground in terms of what a supermini should look like.
The Nissan Pulsar is a family hatchback aimed at the Volkswagen Golf, Hyundai i30 and Kia Cee'd. While it may not be as fun to drive as a Ford Focus or Mazda3, it majors on comfort and refinement, while good motorway manners and a set of economical petrol and diesel engines. There are a range of trims to choose from, and all cars come well equipped, with Bluetooth, air-con and alloy wheels – it's just a shame that you need to pay extra (or upgrade to the n-tec trim) if you want all the fancy Safety Shield technology, which not only make the car safer, but lowers your insurance premium, too.
The Nissan Qashqai was the first family car to combine the appeal of a family hatchback with the practicality and toughness of a conventional 4x4. Now in its second generation, it's better in virtually every way. There's a good range of engines, all of which boast low running costs and a choice of two or four-wheel drive. But unlike the original, there's no seven-seat option in the current Qashqai range – for that, you’ll need to step up to the Nissan X-Trail SUV.
Nissan's charge down electric avenue starts with the Nissan Leaf... The first purpose built, all electric compact family car. While the infrastructure associated with keeping the batteries topped up is still poor, Nissan says this car remains a daily driver. And with a claimed 100-mile range, this is the most practical electric car yet. It's not perfect – it takes eight hours to recharge, is much pricier than the average diesel family hatch and isn’t much fun to drive. But it works, and bodes well for the future of this new technology.
The Nissan X-Trail strikes an impressive balance between offering car-like driving characteristics and go-anywhere off-road capability. Every Nissan X-Trail features equipment like hill descent control, for negotiating slippery slopes, and four-wheel drive, but mixes that with decent on-road grip, direct steering and a comfortable ride. There is one engine choice, a 2.0-litre diesel which is available in high and low power outputs. It remains fairly quiet even when worked hard, and despite noticeable wind noise at speed, the cabin remains a relaxing place to be. The interior is dull to look at, but well built and well equipped, offering plenty of space in the front.
The Nissan Navara pick-up is designed to be a workhorse. It's based on a dependable ladder chassis, which means it's simple to build and maintain, and can cope with carrying or towing heavy loads with little fuss. There are two diesel engines to choose from. The 2.5-litre unit provides adequate performance, but the 3.0-litre diesel offers more power and is quieter, too. The ride is bouncy when there isn’t any weight being transported, but the Nissan Navara is easy and responsive to drive. The cabin is large in the front, with a simple dashboard layout. However, the rear seat area is smaller than you might expect.
The Nissan 370Z is Nissan's answer to the Porsche Boxster and Porsche Cayman, depending on whether you choose the open-top Roadster or the coupe. Both versions are powered by the same 3.7-litre V6 petrol engine, coupled to a six-speed manual or seven-speed auto gearbox, and have rear-wheel drive. The Nissan 370Z offers lots of standard equipment, including supportive leather bucket seats. Loud, dramatic to look at and fun to drive, it's not the most sophisticated sports car, but that's a huge part of the Nissan 370Z's appeal.
The Nissan GT-R has re-written the rulebook on how a sports car should drive. Its twin-turbo 3.8-litre V6 engine is incredibly powerful, while the Nissan GT-R's superb twin-clutch gearbox and hi-tech four-wheel-drive system ensure that acceleration is extremely fast. The Nissan GT-R handles brilliantly, too, changing direction quickly thanks to its sharp steering. As well as offering amazing performance, the Nissan GT-R is surprisingly practical. The rear seats aren’t really suitable for passengers, but double as an extra storage area to supplement the boot. However, the Nissan GT-R's running costs are seriously steep.
Sister car to the Nissan Navara, The Nissan Pathfinder is based on a tough and dependable ladder chassis, and is designed to offer true go-anywhere ability. It's built as a rival for the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Nissan Pathfinder's forte is its impressive off-road capability and ability to tow heavy loads. If you can live without ultimate luxury, the Nissan Pathfinder offers a seven-seat interior with almost as much space as a Land Rover Discovery. Like the Nissan Navara, the Nissan Pathfinder is a decent cruiser, with surprisingly little wind noise, despite its boxy shape. Only a 2.5-litre diesel is currently available.