But there is more to a good supermini than standing out in a crowd. It needs to remain practical enough for family life and decent to drive. Admittedly, the Micra lacks the overall polish that makes the latest Seat Ibiza and Ford Fiesta both stand out performers. But the little Nissan goes about its business quietly and with minimal fuss, with only fidgety ride at low speeds providing a real grumbling point. Although I suspect sticking with 16in wheels rather the optional 17s fitted to our car would cure that issue.
It uses a retuned version of the F-Type SVR’s supercharged 5.0-litre V8 engine, which produces a whopping 567bhp and 516lb ft – around 25bhp more than the outgoing XJR. A 0-62mph time of 4.4sec and a top speed of 186mph are some way off the class best (the BMW 760Li xDrive reaches 62mph nearly a whole second faster), but the XJR 575 makes do without the help of launch control or four-wheel drive.
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Even despite our gearbox woes, which saw the Micra refuse to select or release third gear. There is little to find fault with here either, with the action is both smooth and positive allowing you to change quickly and make the most of the narrow power band. And while most rivals offer more boot space and better legroom for rear passengers, we found the Micra ideal for carrying four adults over short distances.
It’s not that there’s no droning sound as the Accord accelerates, but Honda has done a good job of tamping down that irritation. Yes, we prefer the conventional 10-speed automatic that Honda uses with the turbocharged 2.0-liter engine, but Honda’s implementation of a CVT is among the best.
He credits its handling with saving his life one dark night when a bumper fell off a semi, forcing him to swerve into an interstate median, blowing out two tires in the process. "Had to obviously get the tires replaced and the car towed in that night. But any other car, there was no way in the world that I would not have hit that bumper."
After he was named vice president for finance in January 1961, Miller once complained about the cost of operating Ford's executive dining room, where senior management paid $2 each for lunch.
Why? Well, while the Sierra was fed by an old-fashioned carburettor, the Cavalier had that 'i' for injection in its name. This gave it the legs not just over the Sierra but also the Fiat Croma and Mazda 626 we ran it against, vanquishing their top speeds with a heady 120mph flat out and streaking from 0-60mph in 8.9sec – one second clear of the Sierra and two whole clicks quicker than the Croma.
The Accord is available with a full toy box of technology, too. That’s what buyers want, and Honda does a particularly good job of integrating it all to the point of near elegance. The ergonomics are good, the seats are pedestals of perforated leather happiness, the controls make sense, and everything the driver touches feels high grade. The interface between human being and car is elevated to a new level with this Accord.