Nissan's Note is a part of the manufacturer’s new global small car family. Although the previous version sprang from a lengthened Renault-Nissan supermini platform, this one has more in common with the Indian-built Micra than the current Renault Clio.
That’s thanks to Nissan’s ‘V’ platform, which allows more than 80 per cent of componentry to be sourced locally by the relevant factory, in turn avoiding unnecessary import and tax cost. In the Note’s case, that factory is Sunderland.
The platform has also allowed far fewer parts to be used in this car than in its predecessor, taking complexity and weight out in places and, Nissan says, putting strength and refinement back in. Our test car registered just 1095kg on our scales – 75kg less than the three-cylinder Renault Clio that we road tested previously.
Nissan’s big ambition was to take much of the apparent mini-MPV out of the car, with the aim of creating a much more desirable mainstream European supermini while retaining most of the old car’s extraordinary cabin space. Although the result was always going to be compromised, they’ve done that quite well. The new car is only 20mm less tall than the old one but, from the outside, you’d guess that the difference was greater thanks to the much more muscular bodyside styling.
There are three engines: two 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrols, one of which is supercharged, and one 1.5-litre turbodiesel. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on all, but you can specify a CVT automatic on supercharged models.
The car has MacPherson struts and a torsion beam, both subframe mounted and both tuned for a much tauter feel than the Micra’s. The Volkswagen Polo was the Note’s dynamic benchmark, says Nissan. We’ll see how close Nissan has come to matching it.
Nissan's Note also brings to the supermini segment safety technology of the sort that some manufacturers have yet to offer in their large saloons, and it does so in a particularly clever and cost-effective way.
The Nissan Safety Shield, fitted as standard to range-topping Tekna-trim models and cars with the additional Comfort Safety pack, combines a blind spot warning system with a lane departure warning system plus a moving object detection system that alerts you to moving objects behind you when you’re reversing. It delivers all three via the same wide-angle camera located on the tailgate. Larger cars often rely on separate networks of sensors and processors for these individual functions.