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Used Nissan Note review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Nissan Note covering the Note Mk2 (2013-2017)

The second-generation Nissan Note wasn’t a game-changer, although it did introduce a series of safety features to the segment. It’s neatly designed and, as long as you avoid entry-level cars, equipment levels are generous. The Note is popular mainly with private and Motability buyers, so there are lots of low-mileage examples around. Read the owner reviews on our sister website Carbuyer and you’ll see some people regret buying a specific derivative due to engine or gearbox characteristics. So while we can recommend the Note, it’s very important that you buy the right spec for your needs to ensure you’re not to be disappointed with the Nissan.

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When Nissan teamed up with Renault to create the original Note and Modus/Grand Modus respectively, only the Japanese car enjoyed sales success.

Neatly designed, brilliantly practical and generally reliable, the Mk1 Note was a decent small car that still makes a lot of sense to anybody on a budget looking for a cheap car with low running costs.

So when the second version arrived, expectations were high, and we weren’t disappointed. Looking more stylish and featuring a raft of hi-tech kit, the Note Mk2 was a big advance over the first car.

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Now available only as a used buy, does this Nissan strike the right note? 

Models covered

  • • Nissan Note Mk2 (2013-2017) – Second generation supermini-MPV built on original’s strengths and is a practical choice.

Nissan Note Mk2

History

The second-generation Note hit UK roads in October 2013 with either diesel or petrol engines. The former was Nissan’s 89bhp 1.5 dCi unit, while the latter was offered in 79bhp naturally aspirated or 97bhp DIG-S (supercharged) guises. The DIG-S didn’t arrive until spring 2014, bringing with it the option of a CVT automatic gearbox, dubbed XTronic.

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The limited-run Note N-TEC appeared in February 2015, based on the Acenta and fitted with NissanConnect, DAB, a touchscreen display with integrated nav and a reversing camera. At the same time, the exterior design got a light refresh.

In July 2016 the limited Black Edition arrived; this was based on the Acenta.

Nissan Note Mk2 reviews

Nissan Note in-depth reviewNissan Note 1.2 DIG-S reviewNissan Note 1.5 dCi Tekna review

Which one should I buy?

Consider only the DIG-S or dCi engines; the 1.2 is too underpowered unless you never escape the city. The diesel engine is economical, but refinement is poor.

The entry-level Note Visia comes with stop/start, electric front windows, remote central locking and cruise control. Next up is the Acenta, which brings 15-inch alloys (16 inches on DIG-S models), air-con, Bluetooth and a sliding rear bench seat. Acenta Premium adds automatic lights and wipers, plus climate control.

Range-topping Tekna spec has 16-inch rims, part-leather seats and keyless go. All DIG-S cars have a sportier steering and suspension set-up. The Around View Monitor, a 360-degree camera, is worth having; it was optional on the Acenta Premium and standard on the Tekna. 

Alternatives to the Nissan Note Mk2

The Note’s closest rivals include the Kia Venga, Hyundai ix20 and Vauxhall Meriva, with the latter being the easiest to find. Only consider the Mk2 Meriva (launched in 2010) with its rear-hinged back doors; it’s spacious, versatile and generally well equipped. Used prices are keen.

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The Venga and ix20 are closely related, but both are easy to recommend if rather unexciting choices, because they come with long warranties, so you can expect decent reliability.

Don’t overlook the Honda Jazz, either; this car offers unrivalled space and versatility in the supermini segment, along with class-leading reliability – plus it’s available in hybrid form.

What to look for:

Lights

Automatic lights and wipers can behave erratically; some owners often leave them on manual. 

Gearbox

CVT gearbox is best avoided thanks to poor fuel economy and a clunky action, especially on hills. 

Suspension

Front suspension bushes can be creaky going over speed bumps; reworked bushes are available.

Spare tyre

All Notes come with a tyre repair kit rather than a spare wheel, but a space-saver can be accommodated. 

Interior

The Note’s cabin is impressive for its space and versatility, but disappointing because some of the plastics are of poor quality. Also, the steering wheel adjusts only for height and there’s no height adjustment for the driver’s seat on entry-level cars. When the rear seats are slid back, the boot can stow 325 litres, or 1,495 litres with the bench folded. 

Prices

Running costs

All Notes must be serviced every 12 months, but while petrol cars have a 12,500-mile limit, this is raised to 18,000 miles for diesels. Services alternate between minor and major, priced at £199 and £269 for the 1.2; expect to spend £219 and £319 for a Note 1.5 dCi.

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Only the diesel has a cambelt; it should be replaced every six years or 96,000 miles. Dealers will charge £316.27, but if you want a fresh water pump (strongly recommended) it costs an extra £100. All Notes need a brake-fluid change every two years (£50), while the coolant should be replaced every four years (£65). 

Recalls

The Mk2 Note has been recalled three times. In August 2015, cars built up to March 2014 had a starter button that could remain engaged once the engine was running.

Failure of ignition coils led to a campaign in February 2016 for cars made from July 2015 to January 2016. The most recent came in December 2016 and affected some Notes produced in April 2016 because of an ABS fault. 

Driver Power owner satisfaction 

The Note didn’t rank in our Driver Power 2018 survey, but it finished 66th in last year’s poll. That’s a disappointing result, although it isn’t surprising going by some of the owner reviews on the Carbuyer website. Low running costs are the key attractions, with ride and handling plus the engine and gearbox being criticised.

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