Lower, more conventional superminis like the Renault Clio (which shares the Note’s platform) may ultimately be more agile and involving to drive, but the Nissan is no slouch. Mini-MPVs aren’t the obvious choice for those seeking sporting thrills, and we’d be overstating things to suggest that the Note could really entertain. Nonetheless, its dynamic performance is up there with the class best; good enough to make it the most agreeable car to actually drive, in a class where adequate handling is normally as good as it gets.
The Note’s secondary ride (ability to deal with bumps, lumps and patchwork Tarmac) is better than the primary ride (how the body copes with dips and crests), but both are the measure of rivals like the Meriva and Modus. And while the Citroen C3 Picasso’s softer chassis setup provides an even more pillowy kind of rolling refinement, the Nissan’s blend of agile chassis balance, progressive response, good rolling comfort and equally good bump isolation is the more convincing overall.
Why? Because the Note is actually reasonably good fun to punt down a twisty road. On 15-inch alloys shod with 185/65 rubber, grip levels are as modest as you’d imagine, but well matched with reasonable body control to unexpectedly harmonious dynamic effect. There’s simple satisfaction to be had from enjoying the driveline’s refinement and quite carefully honed, three-dimensional handling. The electromechanically assisted power steering is light but responsive and accurate; press on and you’ll find it devoid of feel, but at normal speeds it’s a very natural setup.
With only an inch in wheel rim size separating the smallest and largest alloys in the Note’s range, there’s very little penalty to be paid in terms of ride comfort if you opt for a highly equipped version. There is, however, just over 100kg of difference in noseweight between the slightest (1.4 manual) and heaviest (1.6 auto) versions of the car – which shows itself in a slightly less taut primary ride, and a little more understeer, in the case of the latter.