SPACE and running costs – two of the biggest factors facing the family car buyer.
And the other dilemma is whether to plump for a hatchback or a mini MPV.
Nissan’s latest Note is a car for those who crave practicality. It might not be hugely stylish or brilliant fun to drive but there’s a range of economical engines, as well as a decent amount of space.
The supermini MPV class isn’t one to get the pulse racing when it comes to looks, but the latest Note has a certain charm and the chassis has been tweaked for European roads so it’s an improvement over models that have gone before.
There are four trim levels to choose from: Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium and Tekna. A diesel version is probably the one to go for if you’re doing the mileage as it gets great economy – over 78mpg is quoted on the combined cycle and it’s punchy on the road.
It’s certainly more stylish than before, with prominent headlamps and compact dimensions that belie the amount of space available inside.
The interior has an upmarket look, with a curved dashboard and classy backlit dials, plus a gloss black centre console with Nissan’s donut-style heater control.
There’s loads of equipment as standard as all come fitted with Bluetooth and cruise control, while the Acenta Premium sampled here had an easy to use touch screen info system with sat-nav, climate control, steering wheel- mounted audio controls and rear privacy glass.
The wide-opening doors mean it’s easy to climb inside, and the big windows make the cabin feel airy and spacious, with plenty of storage spaces. Overall comfort is good, but the wheel only adjusts for height and not reach.
A sliding rear bench lets you choose between loads of rear legroom or an impressive 411-litre boot.
There are some shopping bag hooks plus a 12V power supply in the boot, and Nissan’s Flexiboard system can be used to divide the load area to stop shopping rolling around. Need more space? There’s a deep cubby beneath the boot floor.
It’s easy to drive around town, thanks to its compact size and light controls, while the £400 Safety Shield option includes that surround view camera system that helps get you into the tightest spaces without mishap.
The steering is well weighted, and body control is good too but maybe the ride might be a little firm for some.
The brakes aren’t up there with the best either, as there’s a spongy feel when you apply the pedal. They work, obviously, but the first few times you anchor up raises the pulse level a bit.
As for safety, all models get six airbags, stability control and tyre pressure monitoring. The £400 Safety Shield pack adds blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, surround view cameras and moving object detection. The latter sounds a warning if it detects movement behind the car, such as a pedestrian, when you’re reversing.
Note is pretty economical, with all engines equipped with stop-start technology. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel model emits just 92g/km of CO2, which means road tax is free, it returns 78.5mpg, and there’s even an eco mode that encourages you to drive smoothly to improve your economy figures.
Nissan also offers a £199 pre-paid servicing pack, giving three years/36,000 miles of routine maintenance.
A three-year/60,000-mile warranty gives good peace of mind and a breakdown recovery package is included for the same period – so you won’t get stuck at the roadside.
Fastfacts: Nissan Note Acenta Premium; £16,150; 1461cc four cylinder diesel, 90ps, 200Nm; 5 speed manual gearbox; Top speed 111mph, 0-62mph 11.9 secs; fuel – urban 67.3, extra urban 88.3, combined 78.5; CO2 92g/km; will it fit the garage? 4100/1695/1530mm (l/w/h).