Create an imaginary template for a wholly conventional supermini with a small petrol engine and the chances are that you’d finish with a result very much like the Nissan Note’s. There’s a slight forward weight bias, a five-speed manual gearbox, electric power steering with three turns lock to lock and tyres with generous sidewalls.
Safety and security are our concerns here, but if there’s the opportunity to gain a hire-car grin, too, then happy days. The Note is as straight as they come and drives that way, with a relatively pliant low-speed ride (thanks to the 65-profile rubber) giving it an easy-going gait around town. Pedal and steering weights are all well matched and easy to rub along with. They are positive, precise and of similar lightness.
This consistency of response is retained as speeds (slowly) rise. On a country road, there’s just as much precision to the steering while, thanks to the generous flex in the rubber, the damping has been left tight enough to control body movements without compromising ride comfort.
Nissan's Note is no Fiesta in terms of feedback, response and dynamism, but it’s leagues better than its Micra sibling. As for high-speed cruising, any issues are driveline based, rather than ride and handling. It’s stable and solid, with acceptably low noise levels and fine long-distance comfort.
The Note has stability and traction control as standard, with a switch to disengage it that, we suspect, most owners will only ever touch if they want the extra traction that a spinning wheel can offer on very low-grip surfaces like snow and ice.
For that reason alone, we’re happy to see it there. It disengages both systems fully at once after a full prod. Either way, the Nissan Note is a relatively engaging car. It’s light and has a free-revving engine, a combo that makes it feel positive and enthusiastic.