Nissan Note vs rivals

17 Oct, 2013 9:58am

The Nissan Note has gone from dowdy mini-MPV to sexy supermini. We see how it fares against its Ford Fiesta and Honda Jazz rivals

The arrival of a new Nissan Note will be music to the ears of many small car buyers. The supermini-MPV original won a loyal following with its mix of class-leading practicality, value prices and decent driving dynamics.

But the Nissan Note has had a major shake-up for the second generation, and the company is positioning it as a conventional supermini. As a result, the new Note aims to build on the MkI’s success with sharper looks and greater efficiency, as well as even more space. Plus, there’s a host of big car kit, including surround view cameras and lane departure warning.

Nissan Note review

Ford Fiesta review

Honda Jazz review

Our reigning supermini champ is the Ford Fiesta, and while it can’t match the Note for interior space and flexibility, it sets the standard for style and driving fun. It’s also great value and very refined, while its brilliant EcoBoost engine combines punchy performance with strong economy.

Completing the Nissan’s welcoming committee is the Honda Jazz. It’s now five years old, but is a desirable choice with its brilliantly packaged, high-quality interior. Which car will come out on top as the all-new Note faces the music?

Boot space

It’s nip and tuck between the Nissan Note and Honda Jazz for practicality. With its sliding rear bench pushed forward, the Note has the edge on boot capacity by 33 litres, with 411 litres. But the Honda hits back when it comes to flexibility, thanks to its more thoughtfully arranged boot divider and Magic rear seats – their bases fold up and out of the way cleverly to create extra carrying capacity. By comparison, the Ford Fiesta can provide only 290 litres with the rear bench in place.

Safety kit

Nissan’s optional £400 Safety Shield kit on the Nissan Note adds blind spot monitors and lane departure warning. Although this hi-tech kit isn’t available on the Ford, you can fit a Fiesta with the £200 Active City Stop autobrake set-up, which helps prevent low-speed collisions. The Note is available with a reversing camera and neat surround view system. Even more impressive is the clever ‘wash and blow dry’ set-up that uses tiny jets of water and blasts of air to keep all the camera lenses free of muck.

Back seats

If you regularly carry adult rear passengers, the new Nissan Note is well worth considering. Acenta models and above get a sliding bench that can be pushed back to free up executive car-rivalling legroom. In fact, our measurements show that in this configuration the Note provides 100mm more space to stretch out in than the Fiesta. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot between the Ford and Honda in terms of passenger accommodation. But the Jazz feels less claustrophobic, thanks to its bigger windows and taller stance.


1st place - Ford Fiesta

Yes- it's another victory for the Ford Fiesta. Its blend of style, performance and driving fun is hard to resist, while it provides just enough practicality for most growing families. Better still, in Zetec guise it represents decent value, while dealers will be willing to haggle on price. The competition is closing in, though. Plus, the efficient engine and stop-start result in 99g/km CO2 figure, helping to make the Ford the cheapest company choice.

2nd place - Nissan Note

If you value space and versatility, the Note takes some beating. The sliding rear bench and big boot make it extremely family-friendly. It’s also well equipped, attractively priced and cheap to run. A lumpy ride, poor refinement and soft brake pedal were disappointing, as were the nasty hard plastics inside. As with its predecessor, the Note is built in Britain at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, which also assembles the Nissan Juke and Qashqai crossovers. The hi-tech facility recently underwent a £140million refurbishment.

3rd place - Honda Jazz

The Jazz is getting on a bit, but it’s still a hugely practical supermini choice. Clever packaging means it’s as flexible as the Note, while top-notch build and decent refinement give it a grown-up feel. Despite having a relatively short top gear, the Jazz is also very refined on motorways, where it was only a little noisier at 70mph than the Fiesta. However, the cracks are showing, as the Honda suffers from imprecise handling and a dirty engine line-up.

Ford Fiesta 1.0 EcoBoost Zetec Nissan Note 1.2 Acenta Premium Honda Jazz 1.4 ES Plus
On the road price/total as tested £14,345/£16,290 £14,150/£15,050 £14,495/£14,495
Residual value (after 3yrs/36,000) £5,695/39.7% £5,625/39.8% £6,030/41.6%
Depreciation £8,650 £8,525 £8,465
Annual tax liability std/higher rate £314/£629 £366/£733 £462/£924
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles) £1,643/£2,738 £1,551/£2,585 £1,882/£3,137
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost 6/£258/A/£0 6/£343/B/£20 16/£277/C/£30
Servicing cost £550 (3yrs) £199 (3yrs) £695 (5yrs)
Length/wheelbase 3,969/2,489mm 4,100/2,600mm 3,900/2,500mm
Height/width 1,495/1,722mm 1,530/1,695mm 1,525/1,695mm
Engine 3cyl in-line/999cc 3cyl in-line/1,198cc 4cyl in-line/1,339cc
Peak power/revs 99/6,000 bhp/rpm 79/6,000 bhp/rpm 98/6,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque/revs 170/1,400 Nm/rpm 110/4,000 Nm/rpm 127/4,800 Nm/rpm
Transmission 5-spd man/fwd 5-spd man/fwd 5-spd man/fwd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel 42 litres/£10 41 litres/repair kit 42 litres/repair kit
Boot capacity (seats up/down) 290/960 litres 325-411/2,012* litres 379/883 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight 1,091/464/900kg 1,111/395kg/N/A 1,112/498/1,000kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient 10.1 metres/0.33Cd 10.7 metres/0.30Cd 10.1 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery 3yrs (60,000)/1yr 3yrs (60,000)/3yrs 3yrs (90,000)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealers 12,500 (1yr)/781 12,500 (1yr)/225 Variable/196
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos. 23rd/29th 12th/11th 6th/4th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./stars 91/86/65/5 N/A 78/79/60/5
0-60/30-70mph 10.1/11.1 secs 12.4/13.0 secs 10.4/10.6 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th 6.3/8.3 secs 6.8/10.4 secs 6.8/9.3 secs
50-70mph in 5th 18.7 secs 16.9 secs 13.0 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph 112mph/2,500rpm 104mph/3,250rpm 113mph/3,250rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph 48.0/35.2/9.7m 49.5/35.2/9.0m 52.0/37.4/9.2m
Noise outside/idle/30/70mph 66/45/64/70dB 65/45/62/73dB 57/39/62/72dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range 45.6/10.1/421 miles 48.3/10.7/436 miles 39.8/8.8/368 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 53.3/76.4/65.7mpg 49.6/68.9/60.1mpg 42.2/57.7/50.4mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined 11.7/16.8/14.5mpl 10.9/15.2/13.2mpl 9.4/12.8/11.2mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket 143/99g/km/11% 135/109g/km/13% 164/129g/km/16%
Airbags/Isofix/park sensors/camera Six/yes/£300^/no Six/yes/no/£400** Six/yes/£515/£765
Auto/tyre monitor/stab/cruise ctrl £1,250/£75/yes/no No/yes/yes/yes £1,100/no/yes/yes
Climate ctrl/leather/heated seats No/no/no Yes/no/no Yes/no/no
Metallic paint/xenons/keyless go £495/no/no £500/no/no £450/no/no
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/Bluetooth £700/y/£300/£200 Yes/yes/no/yes No/yes/no/no