From £7,195
An entry-level route to enjoyable, modern, no-frills motoring

Our Verdict

Nissan Pixo 2009-2013
The Pixo is aimed at an older audience than its twin, the Suzuki Alto

The Nissan Pixo city car has a energetic three-pot engine and is surprisingly fun and frugal

What is it?

It's the Nissan Pixo, a new budget city car that slots into Nissan's supermini range below the Note and Micra. It's a rival for the Kia Picanto and Hyundai i10, but one that comes with a marginally more prestigious Nissan badge on the grille.

The irony is, of course, that this Nissan is actually a Suzuki. The Pixo is built on the same Indian production line as the new Alto and, although it’s got its own headlights, bumpers, bonnet, front grille and seat trim, it is in every other way identical to the Suzuki.

In every way except on specification and price, that is. Nissan has taken the decision to bring the Pixo to the UK at a lower entry-level price point than the Suzuki that it is based on. That means that, while you’ll pay at least £6795 for an Alto, you can get a Pixo – admittedly without electric windows, folding rear seats or remote central locking – for just £5995. Right now, there are only two other new cars you can buy for that much money: the aforementioned Kia and the risible Perodua Kelisa.

Here is a car, therefore, that stands to make certain decisions taken at Suzuki’s global headquarters look rather silly as far as UK customers are concerned.

What’s it like?

Nissan’s done just about well enough in distinguishing the new Pixo from its Suzuki sister externally. Its oversized grille, long headlights and grinning front air dam give the car a face all of its own, while a set of bespoke Nissan paint colours also help to set it apart.

From the rear, however, only the shape of the rear bumper really marks this car out as the Nissan, so that if you’re following a Pixo in traffic, you may not know it until you get close enough to make out the letters on its bootlid.

Once you get on the inside of this car, its resemblance to a new Alto gets even more pronounced. Only the badge on the steering wheel of the Pixo and the material on the seats is new. That means the Pixo’s driving position is comfortable, but the seats are slightly narrow and flat, and the absence of reach adjustment on the steering wheel could be a problem for longer-legged drivers.

The fit and finish of materials inside the cabin is well up to class standards, even if the quality and tactility of those materials isn’t quite as impressive as those in an i10 or a Toyota Aygo. You get Isofix child seat points and an MP3 CD player as standard on the entry-level car; there’s no air con, but for £6k you can forgive that.

What you can’t forgive is the lack of flair or imagination with which this cabin has been designed. It’s functional, but doesn’t have a 10th of the colourful, characterful appeal of the dash of a Citroen C1. It’s simply grey and uninteresting almost everywhere, which is a shame considering the youthful clientele to which this car should appeal.

Fortunately for Nissan, the Pixo begins to make up for its apparent lack of character when you get its hard-working three-pot petrol engine stoked up. That motor’s 67bhp is enough for peppy in-town performance, and respectable motorway progress too, in a car weighing just 850kg. It’s a bit thrashy high in the rev range, but pleasing to listen to thrumming away between 2000 and 4000rpm.

The car’s even quite good fun to corner. It’s on exactly the same chassis settings as the Suzuki, so although the Pixo rides bumps and troughs a little abruptly, it’s got surprisingly good body control, and handling that’s responsive enough to raise a pretty broad smile.

Should I buy one?

Depends whether you can run to a £7000 Hyundai i10. There’s no doubt that the Hyundai is a better car than this – better handling, better specced, better performing and more refined – but it’s also almost 17 per cent more expensive than this Nissan. And £1000 is a lot of money if you’re buying a £6000 car.

That being the case, the only decent rival for this car is a 1.0-litre, 60bhp Kia Picanto – and while the Kia’s equally fun to drive, it’s not quite as convincing an all-rounder.

So now you see how clever Nissan Europe has been by pricing this car so low. Were it even five- or six-hundred pounds dearer, it would meet exactly the same fate as Suzuki’s Alto, disappearing into a field of more talented city cars. As it is, though, the Pixo stands out as a route to enjoyable, modern, no-frills motoring.

 

Join the debate

Comments
17

7 April 2009

At £5995 this is an appealing cheapie. I do hope you can order solid colours that you dont have to pay extra for though, I am tired of that little trick.

and why when its so well priced do they miss a trick and lose out on £0 road tax by 3g`s of co2. They must be able to fiddle with it somewhere and achieve the magic figure.

7 April 2009

Good cheap motoring, looks like it fits the bill but this is a tough segment to get a foothold in with so many decent offerings from others.

Jonfortwo, I don't like BMW but I also don't want one secretly either. Could have had them already and steered well clear.

7 April 2009

[quote Autocar]but one that comes with a marginally more prestigious Nissan badge on the grille.[/quote]

Not sure that applies right now, Nissan are in bad shape, quietly having to shift huge numbers of cars at near half price by truck loads of ehem.. demonstrators. Far more than usual. Our lease agents have got the jitters over residuals and the lease cost of Nissan's has rocketed. Even the very popular QaishQat (or whatever) honeymoon is over, lease has doubled!

Kia are going full pace with new models and last time I looked turning a profit, surely prestige is in backing a perceived 'winning team' ?

7 April 2009

[quote jonfortwo]

and why when its so well priced do they miss a trick and lose out on £0 road tax by 3g`s of co2. They must be able to fiddle with it somewhere and achieve the magic figure.

[/quote]

At that sort of comedy error, you'd think they were aiming for the figure, has their test cars doing it, and the cars they sent along to the government test didn't perform as expected on the day?

7 April 2009

Cynically, maybe it will £800 extra for the Eco Green Lite version with a 2mm lower ride, silly wheels and no grip tyres, and of course a tiny tweak in the ECU doing the real fix.

7 April 2009

If, and its a big if, the Government decide to start the scrappage scheme these cars will probably have a waiting list as long as your arm. Less than £4k for a brand new Nissan Citymobile - bring it on...

7 April 2009

[quote jonfortwo]At £5995 this is an appealing cheapie. I do hope you can order solid colours that you dont have to pay extra for though, I am tired of that little trick.[/quote] I think they will be offering it in solid white, a colour which was displayed at Paris, and I would guess a solid blue and solid red - maybe even a yellow? But I'm glad to see the return of the £5995 supermini!

"The creative adult is the child who survived."

7 April 2009

i will take a solid white basic three door model at £5995 and add a "delete option pack" of the following:

Passenger airbag - usually on my own no need for one.

Rear wash wipe - never use it

Body colour door mirrors - no need

reduce the warranty to 2 years - wont keep it beyond that

stereo head unit - just need a socket for the Ipod.

Carpets - rubber mats will do, most people buy rubber mats to cover the carpets anyway.

This should knock another £500 off the price and the weight reduction may even drop the CO2 below 100g`s

now where do i sign........................

8 April 2009

Why don't you use a rear wash/wipe, doesn't it rain where you live? Indicators - never use them. Rear mirror - never use that either.

8 April 2009

Correction. You don't send the car to the Government! The VCA visit the manufacturer to witness the test.

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