Nissan is undoubtedly trying to sweeten the deal for anyone interested in buying the ageing Note – but there’s still a lot to like about this flexible supermini. Practical use of space is obviously key to its appeal, but it’s also enjoyable to drive, with decent handling, and comfortable. Better still, the long list of equipment makes this good-value final version hard to ignore, even with newer, flashier rivals on sale.
With all the fuss surrounding Nissan’s crossover models, you could easily forget the Note. Since it was launched in 2006, it has always been a practical choice and one of the first (and best) supermini-MPVs. But with a replacement due next year, this final facelift of the current car could be worth a look. We drove the 1.5 dCi in top N-TEC+ spec.
Space has always been the Note’s strongest point. Rear head and legroom would be generous in the class above. The back seats slide, split and fold, which means the boot provides load space ranging from 280 litres to 1,322 litres with the seats flat. That’s around 200 litres more than the Ford Focus or VW Golf.
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The boot is versatile, too, with the floor panels lifting to reveal a sizeable underfloor compartment. Removing these and slotting them vertically splits the boot floor to hold luggage in place.
Practicality isn’t the only plus point – the Note has always been an enjoyable car to drive. The 89bhp 1.5-litre turbodiesel provides adequate rather than brisk performance, taking the car from 0-62mph in 12.8 seconds. Power delivery is smooth and punchy at low revs, with little need to go beyond 3,000rpm. That’s no bad thing, as noise levels rise at higher revs.
The engine is mated to a smooth five-speed manual box and, if used sensibly, economy is impressive – the Note claims fuel returns of 67.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 110g/km. The suspension provides a smooth, controlled ride, and while the steering lacks feel, it’s well weighted and accurate.
Inside, new seat fabrics give the interior a touch more class. The design lacks the flair of newer rivals, but it’s functional and well equipped. Our N-TEC+ has a long list of standard kit, with auto air-con, Nissan Connect – comprising touchscreen sat-nav, audio and Bluetooth – automatic lights and wipers, cruise control, rear parking sensors and part-leather trim.
Yet even the popular Acenta model has climate control, larger alloys and auto lights and wipers, and costs less than the equivalent Hyundai ix20 and Kia Venga. So the Note still looks good value in the crowded supermini market.