Nissan Note

Tweaks aim to keep practical star on top

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

The changes refine an already impressive package. The Note’s simple design looks better than ever, and the interior blends durable quality and comfort with enough equipment and space for the whole family. It’s also fun to drive. The low price makes it great value, but anyone looking to use the car to carry big loads or lots of passengers should check out the diesel.

It’s time to play spot the difference! Nissan has taken a ‘less is more’ approach to updating its Note for 2011 – but can a few subtle changes boost the talented supermini-MPV’s appeal? Auto Express got behind the wheel to find out.

The updates focus on improving the Note’s already cute and inoffensive styling. And while the model isn’t as striking as the Juke, the addition of blacked-out B and C-pillars, new inserts in the front spoiler, a Magnetic Red paintjob and chunky 16-inch alloys ensures it still catches the eye.

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Nissan Note

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Inside, the n-tec model we drove gets more equipment then ever. Nissan has added climate control and automatic headlights and wipers to the standard kit list. And this was already quite generous, with luxuries such as sat-nav and a huge refrigerated glovebox.

The fit and finish of the dashboard and major switches are top-notch, and reassuringly solid to the touch. Despite this, list prices remain unchanged, so all of the above is yours for a great-value £12,795.

Under the skin, the Note shares its platform with the previous Micra supermini, but as the wheelbase is 2.6 metres longer, there’s more than enough head and legroom for all occupants.

In the rear, the bench slides back and forth, boosting luggage capacity from 280 to 437 litres, although adults will find it a tight squeeze with the seats fully forward. The clever Flexi-Board system allows you to split the boot into separate compartments, or keep the load area flat, while practical storage areas include one under the passenger seat.

On the move, the Note retains its engaging driving dynamics. The high seating position and airy cabin give a big car feel, but the compact dimensions make it simple to park and manoeuvre. Steering is well weighted and responsive, and the handling well judged. Yet the good body control and strong front-end grip don’t hamper ride comfort.

Our one criticism is the engine. The 87bhp 1.4-litre petrol is smooth and quiet, but feels gutless on the motorway, and struggles when fully loaded. It has to be worked hard, which hampers economy – a pity, as the Note’s 47.9mpg combined figure already trails Hyundai’s new ix20.

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