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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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%|
|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)|
|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|
|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|
|Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range||45.6/10.1/421 miles||48.3/10.7/436 miles||39.8/8.8/368 miles|
|Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket||143/99g/km/11%||135/109g/km/13%||164/129g/km/16%|
|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|