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Nissan Note Acenta 1.5 dCi

Click to view picture gallery“Nissan has doubled its challenge
  in Britain
s small car segment with
  the roll-out of the new British-built
  Note and the Micra (previously built
  in the UK but now built in India).
  So what
s new about the Note?

MOST IMPORTANTLY FOR MOST NEW BUYERS, both sport new looks with sector-first technologies and innovation. Reviewed here is the new Note five-door supermini-cum-compact MPV which, for the first time, brings a number of innovative premium features to the small car market.

Also noteworthy is the new car's boot/load space: 325 litres with the rear seats in use; 411 litres with them folded; and up to 2,012 litres if loaded to the roof!

“Our 1.5 dCi diesel
powered Note returned a
pretty remarkable
real-world 67.7mpg on
its brief test.
Not bad for a supermini-
cum-compact MPV.
From the Nissan Safety Shield — which creates a comprehensive protection and driver assistance package by linking together three safety systems — to the advanced 'around view' monitor (this provides a 360-degree bird's-eye view when parking), the new Note sets the benchmark for accessible premium technology.

The Safety Shield just mentioned uses a combination of active safety features (Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and an advanced Moving Object Detection system) to deliver a new level of assistance to the driver.

The latest Notes are powered by a range of engines offering low strong performance alongside low running costs. Three units are available: a 78bhp 1.2-litre petrol; a supercharged 1.2 DIG-S petrol pushing out 96bhp; and a 1.5-litre dci turbodiesel with 88bhp. A CVT auto 'box is available on the DIGS model; the default is a five-speed manual gearbox.

All versions come as standard with a stop-start system that helps them post record CO2 emissions — as low as 92g/km for the diesel and 99g/km for the petrols. Combined fuel economy figures range from 65.7mpg for the 78bhp 1.2-litre petrol engine to 78.5mpg for the 1.5-litre dci diesel.

The new Notes come in familiar (to current Nissan customers) trim levels — Visia, Acenta and Tekna. Prices range from 11,900 to 16,950, plus owners can spend more by specifying a Family or Performance styling pack.

The Note is also being introduced with a strong promotion on personal contract finance plans based on a 30% down-payment deposit and 149 a month, and a 6.9% interest rate for hire purchase.

For this pre-launch test drive of the Note supermini, which could also be described as a compact MPV, my Acenta-specced version with its 1.5-litre dci diesel engine achieved a remarkable real-world 67.7mpg on a brief test.

The 1.5-litre, four-cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel was sometimes slow accelerating — its 147lb ft of torque comes in at 1,750rpm — and you have to ensure you've selected the best of the modest five gears when overtaking as it takes time to build up power. The top speed is 111mph with zero to 62mph taking 11.9 seconds.

“Pleasantly roomy with
a good-sized shopping
boot and very good
access to the rear seats
for fitting child seats
or strapping in their
Surprisingly, the steering and gearchange felt not as refined as the powertrain with the easy clutch contrasting with the direct but notchy long-travel gear lever and slightly dead-feeling steering. That said, the quality feel to the secondary controls and the high-visibility large instruments was good.

The ride was reasonable and only really comfortable on motorways, and while the handling was rather lifeless — I felt I was riding on it rather than in it — the grip was reassuringly safe.

Drive the supercharged 1.2 DIGS petrol unit and the extra urge is apparent from the off and welcome on country roads as much as on busy motorways, making it a considerably livelier car enhanced by a very good turning circle in town. Driving this version saw an average 43.2mpg being returned.

The Note is a B-sector car and in that market slot it's pleasantly roomy with a good-sized shopping boot and very good access to the rear seats for fitting child seats or strapping in their occupants.

While considerably improved over its predecessor, the Note does suffer from a surprising amount of road noise; there seemed little insulation to speak of to protect the under-body from flying stones.

On the other hand Nissan have clearly put a lot of technology into the latest Note which brings class-leading safety and premium visibility features to this segment. Mid-range models are well priced, and you get low running costs and taxes plus the generous passenger and load carrying space is packaged in a smart exterior. — Robin Roberts

Nissan Note Acenta 1.5 dci
| 15,250
Top speed: 111mph | 0-62mph: 11.9 seconds | Average Test MPG: 67.7mpg
Power: 88bhp | Torque: 147lb ft | CO2 92g/km