While it appears to be cut from the same MPV jib as the likes of Vauxhall’s Meriva and Renault’s Modus, Nissan is shying away from such comparisons. It believes the new hatchback is a ‘segment-buster’, catering for families in a way that such rivals can’t.
The Note has swathes of room inside, thanks to a longer wheelbase than a Volkswagen Golf and rear seats that adjust 160mm backwards and forwards, juggling rear leg room for more or less boot space.
A new innovation from Nissan is the Flexi-board. Essentially, this is two plastic boards that form a removable floor in the boot. It can be used to segregate dirty boots, or a dog, or for storing valuables out of sight. The boards are reversible, with carpet on one-side and a wipe-clean surface on the other.
Nissan has specified three engines – a 1.4-litre petrol engine with 87bhp and 94lb-ft of torque, a 1.5dCi turbodiesel offering 84bhp and 147lb-ft, while at the top of the range is the 1.6-litre petrol engine also found in the Micra 160SR and Micra C+C, which pushes out 109bhp and 112lb-ft. An automatic four-speed 1.6 is also available.
The trim levels start with the S, which includes ABS brakes and a single CD radio.
The SE adds rear electric windows, a driver’s armrest, air-conditioning and a secret cubby hole under the passenger seat, as well as a refrigerated glovebox, front fog lamps and 15-inch alloy wheels.
The top-spec SVE features keyless start and entry and automatic lights and wipers, as well as 16-inch alloy wheels, alloy pedals and leather, as well as a six-CD changer.
Nissan is targeting the family-orientated user-chooser and public sector companies as far as fleet sales are concerned.
Fleet sales director Dave Murfitt said about 4,000 of the 15,000 cars Nissan hopes to sell this year would be aimed at business users as a replacement for the outgoing Almera and Tino.
He said: ‘We think that the car will appeal to a lot of new car fleet customers, particularly in the public sector with organisations such as health authorities.
‘The versatility of the Note, the interior space and compact exterior dimensions would be ideal for that type of work.’
Murfitt said Nissan’s fleet team would be working hard to get the Note on company policy lists for user-choosers, and would also be working with the contract hire and leasing industry to try and secure competitive rental rates.’
Prices for the Note start at £9,995 for the 1.4 S and rise to £13,395 for the 1.6 SVE auto.
Behind the wheel
TWO different Notes were available to drive and my first trip was in the 1.5 dCi diesel.
The interior is pleasant enough, with a dash reminiscent of the Micra. There are cubby holes, cupholders and storage bins all over the place and plenty of room – more than the exterior dimensions suggest. The steering wheel adjusts only for rake, not reach, which was a minor inconvenience.
Nissan is making a big play of the Note’s family appeal and has poured a lot of effort into making the back seats as child-friendly as possible. The kids have tables and cupholders behind the front seats, an armrest and a power socket for DVD players. A zippable double-pocket also resides on the back of the front seats – perfect for colouring books and comics.
On the move, the diesel feels lacklustre. There’s very little driving enjoyment to be had here, but the ride is smooth and potholes are well absorbed. The steering is very light and devoid of feel, but perfect for zipping around congested streets.
On to the petrol 1.6 SVE. The engine is the same unit found in the ‘hot’ Micra 160SR and is an absolute cracker.
Combined with ‘sport-tuned’ power steering, it feels like a different car. Around the twisty seaside roads out of Marseille it was a hoot to drive, something I never thought I’d say about a family hatchback. However, the rev-happy nature of the engine is likely to send the fuel economy figure plunging.
A FAMILY with kids to keep happy on the move could do far worse than the Note. There’s plenty of space and some well thought out ideas in the back to make life easier for parents. The diesel unit is the most frugal of the engines available, but at a £300 premium over the 1.6 petrol lump.
|Max power (bhp/rpm):||87/5,200||109/6,000||84/3,750|
|Max torque (lb-ft/rpm):||94/6,000||112/4,400||147/1,900|
|Max speed (mph):||103||114 (108)||104|
|0-62mph (secs):||13.1||10.7 (11.7)||13.0|
|Fuel consumption (mpg):||44.8||42.8 (40.4)||55.4|
|CO2 emissions (g/km):||152||159 (171)||135|
|On sale:||March (diesel in April).|