- Generous levels of equipment
- Glides over speed bumps
- Easy to drive and park
- Engines louder than the displacement would suggest
- Cloth upholstery until the very top spec
- Not convincing when ‘pushing on’
The Nissan Note remains a fairly unique and standalone vehicle. While it boasts the dimensions of a small hatchback it also possesses the best qualities of an MPV too - with lofty headroom and a comfortable ride height.
This Note is a league ahead of the model it replaces in terms of styling and aesthetics. The ‘NTec’ spec we tested had striking Satin Silver door handles and mirrors which complimented the deep Ink Blue paintwork excellently. Other exterior touches we liked include the 16” Exclusive alloy wheels, the carbon look rear bumper, glossy black grill and rear privacy glass. All of which come as standard on the N-Tec level trim, 2 tiers below ‘top of the range.’ The N-Tec trim offers the most comprehensive package while still maintaining true value for money, our model cost £15,365 as tested.
On The Road
Our test car was the 1.2litre 3 cylinder petrol model and it performed much better than expected. Power delivery is reassuring and predictable which makes pulling out of junctions a comfortable task as the Note is in no way sluggish from the line. On British roads the Note doesn’t feel underpowered or cumbersome at all and this is true also for the diesel models with the 1.5dCi engines.
Even with just 80bhp under the bonnet, the Note doesn’t struggle to merge onto motorways at pace and feels composed and stable on the motorway up to 80mph - from there the cruise control and speed limiter can do all the hard work. The clutch is easy to live with in the manual models too and the stop/ start technology works seamlessly in traffic and doesn’t get confused. Don’t expect great pace but in terms of serving to consumers’ expectations, the Note performs sufficiently.
The steering feel from the leather wheel (with lovely blue stitching) is nice and weighted which really improves the whole driving experience. Potholes and speed bumps don’t tend to throw the wheel about as much as other competitors, such as the Honda Jazz, and the feedback is offered through the wheel in a comfortable and managed manner.
The greatest selling point is the comfort offered when driving the Note around town. The suspension was clearly set up with European roads in mind and the Note can glide over speed bumps and mini roundabouts with minimal discomfort to the driver or passengers.
As mentioned the steering is well weighted and sharp enough to manage almost all the chores that everyday motoring can throw at you. Parking is also made easier thanks to the rear view camera (which is standard on the Ntec trim) and the big mirrors, which both help take the stress out of supermarket carparks.
The Note feels eager as it goes about urban areas but it was clearly not built for ‘pushing on’ as such as the car feel quite understeer-y when taking bends at pace. Which is fine, of course, because that’s not what the Note is meant for. Under normal driving circumstances the ride & handling offered is both comfortable and commendable.
We found that when testing the 1.2 litre 3 cylinder engine it wasn’t quite as quiet as we’d have expected - but it didn’t sound bad at all either. 3 cylinder engines offer more ‘rasp’ in the exhaust note due to the odd number of pistons - this is all very complicated but it is true for the Note which adds a delightful little soundtrack as you accelerate away from lights or pick up pace to merge onto the motorway. Once you’re on the motorway however there is a bit of wind noise that comes from the large wing mirrors we mentioned earlier. This is noticeable at speed but not all that distracting or irritating.
Nissan have done an excellent job in making sure that there is no unwanted vibrations pushed through to the driver via the steering wheel or pedals. This really makes the Note feel like a premium vehicle when compared with similarly priced competitors and it generally helps portray the build quality through to the driver. We’re sure this will help buyers feel satisfied with their purchase when driving home from the dealership.
In The Car
Behind the Wheel
The Note boasts a simple and intuitive button layout. Our test vehicle came with the wheel mounted controls which made the infotainment system extremely easy to live with. The 5.8” touch screen display is responsive to touch and quick to respond, which dispels some safety issues that users have had with sluggish, distracting touch-screens which require too much attention. With the Note everything is where you’d expect it to be and there are no important functions hidden within sub-menus.
The material selection in the cabin is conservative and functional. The dashboard and door cards are hard-touch plastics but they don’t make any irritating squeaks nor do they detract from the cosy feel of the Notes interior. Our test vehicle was equipped with a smooth cloth upholstery but part-leather seats are fitted with the top-spec Tekna and Tekna style specs.
Space & Practicality
One of the best selling points for the note is the seating position provided by the vehicles ride height. While the vehicle is no further off the ground than any other hatchback, the seat and driving position is lifted to a point where the driver simply steps into the car instead of stooping down. This is surely a huge selling point for the elderly who will always favour a vehicle which is easy to access. Our car also came equipped with the optional arm rest which, although it slightly interferes with operating the handbrake, turns the driving position to a very welcoming place to be.
Luggage capacity is where the Note really shines. With the seats folded down you can squeeze 1495 litres of space out of the Note thanks to the lofty roofline and tardis-like interior. Leg room is also sufficient for both front and rear passengers
The 1.2 litre petrol engine we tested has astounding economy figures from 47.9mpg in urban areas going all the way up to 70.6mpg on a motorway run. The 1.5 diesel dCi engine furthers these economy figures to 78mpg but we’d only recommend the diesel engine if you’re doing over 12,000 miles a year, otherwise the petrol model is the most suiting and cost-conscious option.
Emitting just 109g/km of CO2, the Note benefits from a road tax bill of just £20 per year so there are savings to be made throughout ownership too.
Quality & Reliability
Nissan have always fared well in terms of reliability and the lifetime of their products, so potential buyers should take confidence in that. Nissan also provide 3 years of roadside assistance alongside the standard 3 year/60,000 mile warranty just in case the worst situation were to arise.
It really is a safe bet to buy the Note and although some of the plastics on the interior may come under scrutiny, the build quality seems fine and none of the hard-touch materials detract from the comfort inside whatsoever.
Safety & Security
There are a few safety features which are owed a mention in the Nissan Note. Firstly the reversing camera works well and has a wide angle, so you can see any approaching pedestrians while you reverse out of a parking bay. Other excellent features include; the Blind Spot assist, which is indicated by an orange light in the wing mirror and works faultlessly, the lane assist, which indicates when you’re drifting towards the white line on the road and the moving object detection which can locate anything moving at any point around 360 degrees of the car.
Of course the Note achieved a full 5 star Euro NCAP rating - as we have come to expect from Nissan.