What is it?
The Note, Nissan’s supermini-sized MPV, has been given a fresher face. We’re testing it in 1.4-litre N-tec guise, the priciest trim level offered with this, the base engine.
Nissan has merely applied an extra layer of make-up to the Note’s face with a new front spoiler design, pretty chrome touches and a host of extra equipment to ensure the Note remains a worthy class adversary.
As for the engine line-up, there’s not much change here either. The Note’s 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol engines both now comply with Euro 5 emissions regulations which diesel variants have complied with since autumn 2010.
Incidentally, it’s now also the smallest car built at the UK's Sunderland factory, with the Micra being shown the door to make way for the bigger and more profitable Juke.
What’s it like?
The Nissan Note is as spacious and practical as ever, thanks to its tall roofline and clever packaging, offering plenty of space for four, an array of cubby holes and sliding rear bench.
Inside, its cleverly thought out dash is simple and effective, with easy-to-use buttons and no frills. Sitting behind the wheel, however, could be better. Flat seats make getting comfortable quite a chore and you find yourself sitting on them, rather than in them.
The N-tec gets plenty of toys though. Included is Nissan’s connect package with simple-to-use sat-nav, cruise control, automatic wipers and headlights, 16-inch alloys, Bluetooth and for lovers of acronyms, MP3 connectivity and USB ports. If that gets you hot under the collar, you’ll be pleased to know that climate control features, as do tinted windows.
At town speeds, the 1.4-litre Note makes steady progress and feels lively enough to flit around traffic confidently. On the motorway, too, it’ll cruise along happily at 70mph but does run out of puff when faced with a delicate incline. Steering is light and offers good feedback through the wheel and the suspension hits a fine balance between ride quality and handling.
Although the Note probably won’t see a fast bend in its lifetime, grip levels are quite impressive and engine and wind noise at speed are kept to a minimum. Should you feel the need to make quicker progress, the engine note is surprisingly pleasing to the ear, revving linearly to the red line.
Should I buy one?
The Note is perfectly recommendable. It drives respectably well, but its strongest point is undoubtedly its fine practicality, even though this could be bettered with an improved seating position.
We didn’t get near its 48mpg claimed average economy figure - and doubt you would either - but the Note is competitive compared to its peers. Residual values won’t be great, however, losing almost half its original value after 36,000 miles. The Note’s natural rival, the Ford Fiesta Zetec 5dr fares better on this front and will command a premium when the time comes to sell.
Although the standard spec list in the N-tec is impressive - offering executive levels of kit in a small package - the low price of aftermarket sat-nav systems and phone applications means we’re still not totally convinced by the benefits. One of the cheaper, but still decently-equipped Note variants might be a better option.