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Nissan Note
Nissan Note
Strikes Right Chord, But Doesn’t Dethrone Jazz
Nissan Note
Nissan Note
Nissan Note
Nissan Note
Nissan Note

In Tune Note Is Well Priced, Spacious, Practical, Easy On The Eye
Can Honda Jazz Retain Top Spot Much Longer Without A Diesel?
**** out of

It’s about time the Honda Jazz was dethroned as number I Supermini/Mini MPV, after all its been there for almost 5 years. But after a brief experience with the new Nissan Note, I have to declare that the Jazz’s crown is still intact.

Not that there’s much that doesn’t chime with the Note. It looks very attractive, the colours are beautiful, and perhaps more importantly, the prices are competitive.

It is a bit bigger than the Jazz, has bags of room inside and is flexible with it, but the overall package of the Jazz, with its so-called “Magic” seats which flatten easily to convert the car into a virtual van, or flip up into cinema-type chairs, still give it the edge.

The Note’s dimensions make it look more dynamic than the Jazz, although the latter’s cute body shape still retains its appeal.  

The quality of Jazz’s interior and overall construction, the ride and handling, keep it ahead (declaration of interest, I own a Jazz). The one area which makes the Jazz vulnerable to a challenge is its lack of a diesel. So I made a beeline for the 1.5 litre diesel, developed by Nissan’s alliance partner Renault.

Diesel fails to impress
I find most modern diesels very impressive, not only in the economy they deliver, but in the manner of the driving experience too. The power comes in early and seriously, and the sound is often more impressive than the weedy noise of petrol engines under 1.5 litres.  But the Note’s diesel failed to impress. It sounded gruff, and the whole powertrain didn’t seem smooth enough, as though it hadn’t been properly sorted; a major disappointment. The gearbox wasn’t exactly slick either, and the suspension was very harsh. And there is no automatic diesel; this is only available on the 1.6 litre petrol version.

Nevertheless, the Note is hugely impressive. It delivers a serious amount of interior space, and Nissan says it offers the comfort and equipment of a Volkswagen Golf-sized car. I wouldn’t argue with that. The rear passengers do particularly well. The Note’s handling was good, feeling stable and quiet at speed.

Larger than the Modus
“The Note slots into Nissan’s range above the Micra and is larger than the Modus, say, from Alliance partner Renault,” says Nissan.

(The Note is built in Sunderland, north-east England, using the same basic components as the Nissan Micra, Renault Modus and Renault Clio III)

“It’s shorter than a Volkswagen Golf overall, but its wheelbase is longer than the German car – to give maximum interior space versus exterior size,” Nissan says.

The Note is much better looking than the weird Modus. And being a Nissan, quality and reliability are likely to be bomb proof.

There is a sliding rear seat, so you can increase luggage space and cut leg room, or vice versa. There is also a false floor in the boot covered by twin steel-framed boards – the Flexi-Board system, which can withstand loads of up to 50 kg (110 lbs). Lifting either of the boards reveals a secret storage space beneath the boot floor ideals for stowing valuables.

There is plenty of thoughtful little storage places, with folding trays for those in the rear, aircraft style expanding pockets for books and magazines, a 9-litre (2 gallon) glove-box which can be heated or cooled, and a secret compartment under the front passenger seat.

There are three trim levels – S, SE and SVE. The top two levels only have the 1.6 litre petrol and 1.5 litre diesel. You can have the 1.4 litre petrol motor on the S.

S trim includes electronic brake-force distribution, 4 airbags, CD player, front electric windows, remote central locking, and the sliding rear seat. SE adds stuff like air conditioning, 2 more airbags, fog lamps, the Flexi-Board floor electric adjusted and heated mirrors, rear electric windows, and foldaway tray tables, and 6-speaker stereo. SVE adds things like powered folding mirrors, bigger wheels, electronic climate control, part leather, 6 CD auto-changer and automatic headlights and wipers.

The Note was developed from the Tone, a concept car shown at the 2004 Paris motor show. Retaining that name would have laid Nissan open to charges of political obsequiousness, given that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s constituency is in Sunderland. At least that would have been the problem when the car was being launched in April. Now after the disastrous-for-the-government local elections in May, and various incidents which have shown Blair’s Labour government to be arrogant, incompetent and corrupt, presumably Nissan is happy not to have its car linked with tainted political goods.

Nissan offers us a pleasant little story surrounding the development of the Note. Apparently a Nissan designer, contemplating his future when he found out his wife was expecting their first child, mused that now motoring was bound to be boring, necessitating a car which would be good at storing stuff rather than exciting the driver.

The Note, which is said to combine both attributes, is the result of his attempt to retain some excitement in his motoring after the birth of the child. Preposterous really. The Note is a worthy, practical, and impressive car. Nice to drive, yes. Fun-to-drive it ain’t.

Neil Winton – May 10, 2006
Nissan Note 1.5 dCi SE
1,461 cc turbo diesel
86 bhp
5-speed manual
front wheels
0-62 mph/100 km/h – 13 seconds
Top Speed:
104 mph-167 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 55.4 mpg-5.1 l/km
CO2 Emissions:
135 g/km
Insurance Group: 4E
4,083 mm
Weight: 1,240 kg
MacPherson/Torsion beam with coil springs
£11,995-€17,600 on sale now
Honda Jazz, Ford Fusion, Fiat Idea, Peugeot 206SW, Mitsubishi Colt, Vauxhall/Opal Maria, Renault Modus, Seat Ibiza, Daihatsu Sirion
Would I buy one?
I’ve already got the star car
**** out of 5
practical, handsome, good value
doesn’t drive like a Jazz

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