Nissan Note Review

Find out more about the Nissan Note in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
3
Out of 5

Pros

  • Deceptively spacious and practical
  • Frugal with fuel
  • User-friendly interior features

Cons

  • Diesel engine gives unrefined drive
  • Interior design is undistinguished
  • Can be poor on reliability
  • MPG

    0 - 0

  • CO2

    0 - 0 g/km

Review

As a relatively new model, the Nissan Note was a vehicle that was placed in between the B and C-segments and bridged the gap between small cars and multi-purpose vehicles.

After being unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 2004, it made its way onto the UK’s roads in 2006 and was a surprisingly useful option in the small car market, despite not offering the same fun driving feel that other small cars could offer.

It did, however, provide customers with vast space in a safe shell with good value for money, and that was maintained when Nissan updated the model in 2013.

Although the excitement levels were minimal, practicality, comfort and high levels of safety meant that the second generation Note was just as good as the first edition. With improved driver dynamics and a refreshed interior, the 2013 model was a good update, but may not have lit as many fires as some of its rivals.

It received a refresher in 2015, and that included new safety technology and an upgraded range of efficient engines to help make the Note very good value for money to both buy and run.

Latest Model

 

With the introduction of the Note update in 2015 came new engines, updated technology and an improved chassis for better driving feel and performance, as well as a refreshed façade and interior design pointers.

Three engine options are available with the latest model, including two 1.2-litre petrol units – one of which is the DIG-S supercharged version with 96bhp – and a 1.5-litre turbodiesel, all of which are more fuel efficient than the previous iterations.

An attractive feature of the Nissan range is the great variety of safety features and their models having a high crash test rating, and with the Note this is no exception. Fitted with Nissan Safety Shield on higher trim models, the Note still comes with a great safety rating from lower models in the price range.

The latest model also has a more premium feel to the interior at higher trim levels when compared to some of its rivals, but for the lower end models it is rather simple and rather harsh in feel, although it is more likely to cope with daily life and general harshness.

 

Value for money

For current base spec models, Nissan fits plenty of useful features to the Note Acenta Limited Edition, including brake assist, cruise control and audio connection ports for multimedia devices. As well as Bluetooth telephone connectivity, leather steering wheel and heated door mirrors, the current starting level for the Note is equipped rather well.

However, top-level Tekna models from before the update are available at prices cheaper than the current starting price, including a pre-update 2015 Tekna model with just 12,190 miles on the odometer.

Fitted with some of Nissan’s Safety Shield systems, including lane control assistant and camera parking aids for the front and rear, a cloth-velour interior trim and Bluetooth telephone interfacing system, this example comes with the 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine.

This model is available for £10,495, which is £500 cheaper than the current base model, showing that top trim examples are available at a good price if customers look for them.

 

Looks and image

 

The Note has always been a funky alternative to some of its market rivals and with some design tweaks in the update, it is an interesting looking car, although the dominant small car on the market, the Ford Fiesta, is definitely the one to beat on that front. As the update came out in 2015, there are used models with these design tweaks available on the market, which could be an attractive option.

As is now common place with Nissan, customers can choose from plenty of personalisation options through the Nissan Design Studio, with plenty of colour choices available. Despite some of the interior materials feeling a bit cheap, the look can at least be pepped up by colourful choices here and there. It is more functional than fashionable however.

To drive, the Note lacks some of the all-round performance that some of its competitors possess, but on power delivery, drive feel and comfort, it performs admirably.

Despite being taller than its rivals, it has only a small amount of body roll and handles well, but not at the higher echelons of the small car sector.

The engines perform well, but if the car is heavily loaded – as any MPV can be – it can struggle to get up to speed. For optimum efficiency, the diesel unit helps get up to an impressive 80mpg, which can attract long-distance drivers, while the peppy petrol units help for a nippier driving feel around urban environments.

Space and practicality

 

Despite being a small car, this is where the Note shines the most. The adaptable interior helps customers store a surprisingly large amount of stuff, thanks to the taller roof line compared to other small cars and an MPV-style interior layout.

It can comfortably seat four adults, with space for a fifth in the middle, although it will be a tad cosy due to the car’s overall size.

Safety-wise, the Note scored four-stars on the Euro NCAP tests back in 2013 – mainly due to the car’s size – and this has been maintained through further yearly tests.

With the addition of additional safety technologies in the 2015 update, the Note is a safe car indeed, with Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and Moving Object Detection available in the Safety Shield package.

For families on a budget, this car is a no-brainer, as the cheaper outlay, surprisingly spacious interior and high safety rating means that it is a quality option in the small car market.

 

Engines

 

All the engines that Nissan offer with the Note return excellent fuel efficiency figures – all able to return more than 50mpg – and also relatively low emissions for some of its rivals, with all three units available capable of below than 109g/km CO2.

 

Idle Start Stop is paired with all three units too, and the system re-engages the engine pretty quickly when you want to get moving again.

There are two 1.2-litre petrol units and a Renault-Nissan developed 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel, with all three able to be paired with the standard five-speed manual gearbox and a CVT automatic transmission, which returns much worse on emissions and also isn’t as capable so its best sticking to the manual.

 

Running costs

 

The aforementioned fuel economy is a key selling point of the Note, and due to the impressive levels of emissions on all the models, road tax is £30 maximum – with many of the models not having to pay anything at all.

Insurance groups are between 6 and 10, meaning low levels of costs on that front too. This puts the Note in a very similar position to its sector rivals, and although they may return a better driving experience, the Note is incredibly efficient on all counts.

 

Things to look out for

 

In general, Nissan models usually provide high levels of reliability, with older Note models mostly suffering from minor parts issues. Due to the newer models being built with highly durable plastics, it is less likely to fall apart than other models might, even if it doesn’t inspire as much as its rivals.

Few issues have been reported on the Note, but in some of the earlier diesel models their reliability was questionable and could mean high repair costs. Minor electrical issues were also reported, but this could easily be resolved by going to a local Nissan dealer, who could get the ECU replaced.

Rivals

One major problem for the Note is that it could be seen as falling in between the two categories, but with similar models like the Honda Jazz and Kia Venga, it does have some challengers to contend with. If compared to small cars in the B-Segment, however, it has a much more difficult market to be noticed in, as the Ford Fiesta and VW Polo perform at a very high level.

 

Depreciation warning

 

Due to their usual reliability and build quality, the Note performs well on the used market, keeping more than 40 per cent of its value in most circumstances. The diesel models perform especially well thanks to their efficiency and reliability, with top trim editions in first and early second generation models available for less than £10,000.

However, due to their lesser performance and desirability, Xtronic and CVT automatic models will suffer on the used market and may not be worth the extra cost in the first place.

Trims Explained

In earlier guises, the Note was provided with an incredibly extensive range of trims, but following the model’s update in 2015, the amount of trims currently stands at five, with all providing different feels and accessories.

Acenta Limited Edition

Starting in the Acenta Limited Edition trim, the Note is fitted with air conditioning, 15-inch alloy wheels, heated door mirrors and Bluetooth telephone integration, as well as floor mats, daytime running lights and rear privacy glass.

Also coming with cruise control and brake assist, the current £10,995 price tag is well worth it, especially when you see the next grade up, Acenta, includes little else for £13,990 – almost a £3,000 premium.

Black Edition

This trim has a lot of black styling features, such as the spoiler, 16-inch alloy wheels and interior design, alongside the Note’s styling package that is included in the price. With all the other features from the previous model included, the main appeal of this version is the aesthetic additions, but at this grade you are able to fit the NissanConnect multimedia system, which is an optional extra.

The Black Edition starts from £14,620.

Acenta Premium

As the penultimate trim level, Acenta Premium adds some more tech and extra practicality to allow for an easier experience, such as the sliding rear bench of seats to improve rear storage space. The NissanConnect 5.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system and DAB radio are added as standard, as well as automatic headlights and rain-sensing windscreen wipers.

In what is a surprisingly small leap, the £15,000 price tag is worth it when compared to models lower down, although some of its rivals can offer similar options at cheaper prices.

Tekna

The top spec model is the Tekna edition, and to showcase Nissan’s appeal in safety, they fitted three of their top level safety technologies at time of production – blind sport warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection. These features are now commonplace amongst many small cars, but they still make the Note a safe option.

Also included is a part-leather interior and keyless start, which demands a £17,000 price tag.

Summary

  1. High Euro NCAP safety rating and additional features
  2. Excellent on fuel economy and emissions
  3. Some of the trims are overly priced
  4. Holds its value well on the used car market
  5. Largely reliable despite some minor technical faults
  6. Very spacious for a small MPV
  7. Low running costs thanks to low insurance and road tax levels
  8. User-friendly interior but is not the most attractive
  9. Quality of the materials used are not at a high level
  10. Not the most engaging drive despite being improved in the update

Related News

View Nissan News Archive
View All Motors.co.uk Reviews