Nissan Note

The Essentials

  • Price from £11,300
  • What Car? says: 4 star rating
  • Fuel economy: up to 67.0mpg
  • What is it? The Note's supermini size and MPV practicality prove that good things can be squeezed into small packages

Great

  • Nippy in town, swift on the motorway
  • Acres of space to play with inside
  • Interior's designed with the driver in mind

Gripes

  • Costs more than the competition
  • You'll feel all the bumps around town
  • Styling lacks the 'Wow!' factor
  • Drive

    Drives really well, whether you're pottering around town or giving it some welly

  • Inside

    Very well laid out but you might have to stretch to reach the steering wheel

  • Safety

    Comes with four airbags but only the top-of-the-range has stability control

  • Reliability

    The Note is pretty solid and all its bits are very reliable

  • Space

    Top marks on the space front: you could almost fit an entire orchestra inside!

  • Standard and extras

    Basic model doesn't even come with air-con but the rest are kitted out ok

  • What's it like to drive?

    The Note's boxy, MPV-like shape gives you few clues to the fun that can be had behind the wheel. The car handles impressively crisply thanks to its strong grip, tight body control and responsive steering, and although the ride can occasionally feel a little firm, it stays comfortable most of the time. Refinement is pretty good, too. You can sometime hear the suspension knocking, but road, wind and engine noise are shut out well.
    Talking of engines, we'd recommend the 1.4 petrol, which gives a good blend of performance and economy. The 1.6 is deceptively quick but costs more to buy and run, and the same is true of the 1.5 diesel.

  • What's it like inside?

    The impressive thing about the Nissan Note is the amount of space available inside what is a pretty small car. The high roofline gives plenty of headroom, although the narrow body makes it a squash for three adults in the back. A sliding rear bench allows you to juggle rear legroom and boot space depending on what and who you're carrying. The seat back splits and folds in two parts, too.
    The driver's seat is quite high for extra visibility, but because there's limited seat and wheel adjustment, the tallest and smallest drivers may find it difficult to get comfy at the wheel. The dashboard is easy to navigate and the controls straightforward to operate.
    Our favourite Acenta trim provides goodies including air-conditioning, cruise control and steering-wheel controls for the stereo and trip computer.

  • How reliable is it?

    Unlikely. The Note came second in the supermini class in the current JD Power ownership satisfaction survey, losing out to only the Honda Jazz. It was the only other car to be given an excellent score for mechanical reliability.
    Safety kit isn't so impressive, though. Front and side airbags are fitted across the range, but you'll need to upgrade to Acenta trim for curtain airbags to protect those in the back and gain stability control. The Note achieved four stars in its Euro NCAP crash test, but won only three stars for child occupant safety. That means many newer supermini rivals will protect you better in a smash. All models have Isofix child seat fittings and child locks on the back doors.

  • Should I buy one?

    It's a better bet than close rivals like the Hyundai ix20 or Kia Venga, but for the same money you might find a standard five-door supermini is up to the job. A VW Polo, for example, costs only a little more to buy and would hold its value much more strongly. For the lowest running costs go for the diesel engine ? its low emissions keep tax bills low and fuel economy is impressive at 67.3mpg. However, the 1.4 petrol engine will prove much more affordable overall for low-mileage drivers.