- We like...Better cabin; slkidey seats
- We don't...Blind spots when reversing
Mid-life update gives small MPV-cum-hatchback a new look, extra miles-per-gallon and adds more kit. We take a look Nissan’s sweet’n’ friendly Note has just spent time under the surgeon’s knife and emerged fitter and fresher – but with a slightly bigger nose.
In a reversal of the usual trend for cosmetic procedures, the small hatchback looks a mite beakier than it did; the bonnet bumper and lights are new, pushing out the car’s lengths by a couple of centimetres.
The rear lights are new, too, but elsewhere much is as before for the Brit-built baby MPV. Inside, the plastics used to shape the dash look and feel nicer than before – addressing a weakness in the old car, where they were a touch low-rent – but they don’t have the expensive soft-feel ‘squish’ that you’ll find in, say, Volkswagens.
Nissan has kept all the good stuff that make the car such a friend to its owners – a double-deck boot floor with sturdy slide-and-remove shelves and a back seat that slides to and fro to jockey space between boot and cabin, as needed. Seats fully back, the Note packs ample room for five, although the centre of the rear bench has skinny padding that may numb your rump on a long journey.
One all-new bit is a navigation, music and phone system that’ll hook in your iPod, your phone and lead you wherever you need to be. Called Nissan Connect, it is standard on top-line Tekna models and a £400 option on the mid-level Acenta.
This works simply and logically off a touch-screen sited centre and high on the dash. It’s slow to scroll through options and the sat-nav voice volume dsn’t auto adjust to match the stereo’s volume, but otherwise it’s pretty good. Nissan tell us no rival has yet put it on a Note-sized, Note-priced car.
Engines and running gear are broadly as before, although the 1.4 petrol and the 1.5 diesel have been tweaked to boost fuel consumption and reduce emissions gases.
So, as before, the 1.5 diesel we sampled felt smooth and energetic to drive. It’s set up for easy-cruising comfort, not press-on excitement, and mostly it succeeds – though ours didn’t seem to sponge away the bumps quite as we remember the previous model doing, while pot holes sent a noticeable ‘thonk’ to where the driver sits.
The ride is generally soft and the car leans if you hoon into bends, though it’ll hang on gamely. But that’s not what the Note is about and – if you ease back and relax, it’s an agreeable place in which to spend even long trips. The engine, meanwhile pulls well within a relatively narrow power band but, we felt, would have done even better had it had a sixth forward gear. All manually-geared Notes make do with five forward ratios.
Should you buy one? If you need a small car that’ll juggle its cabin space between people and belongings, then this small Nissan is hard to beat, while ownership costs are reasonable. It’s sold strongly since launch in 2006 and used ones for sale are plentiful and keenly priced. Diesel-engined Notes only account for a 10th of total sales, but it’s the one we’d pick for its economy and willing nature. Nissan, meanwhile, plans to tempt owners that way by offering diesel-engined Notes for the same price as petrols. Mid-spec Acenta models look to be the best value.
To view second-hand Nissan Notes, go to motors.co.uk
- Engines1.5 DCi
- 0-60 mph13.1sec
- Insurance groups5E
Motors.co.uk value verdict: