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Nissan note accenta
Nissan's new British-built Note as a range is a big improvement on the first generation car in every respect and it's more attractive styling, impressive interior space and luggage capacity is likely to see it overtake the smaller Micra in terms of sales.
The Renault-engined diesel version delivers the best fuel figures but at a price and you need to be a high mileage driver to justify the significant extra purchase price. The 1.2 DIG-S feels so flat in eco mode; a sensitive driver would get better fuel consumption in normal mode. Ride comfort is better than a VW Polo but a Ford Fiesta is more dynamically involving to drive if that matters to you.
The Nissan Note is available with a choice of two 1.2 litre three-cylinder petrol engines and a 1.5 litre turbo diesel. The entry model has 79 bhp, while the supercharged version tested here delivers 97 bhp at 5,600 rpm and maximum torque of 108 lbs ft at 4,400 rpm. The engine enjoys, and needs some revs, and has a characterful and not unpleasant 'throbby' note but struggles more with the car's bulk than the performance figures suggest.
Following the gear change up light can mean flooring the accelerator to no apparent effect so you have to change down again. In eco mode the car feels dismal so it's the first thing to switch off. Motorway inclines meant dropping from fifth to fourth gear and that was with only driver and an overnight bag on board. Acceleration to 62 mph takes 11.7 seconds. Top speed is 112.5 mph (according to Nissan).
It's no Ford Fiesta that you would want to sling into a corner but somehow it feels more mature so that you don't want to. Body lean in bends is well controlled without the suspension being rock hard but the Note feels quite enthusiastic if you abandon fuel consumption goals. The tyres have quite deep side walls by today's fashion led standards and that helps ride comfort. It would be nice to have more 'feel' in the electric power assisted steering which is too light most of the time. The brakes, front disc and rear drum were not totally confidence inspiring.
The best way to judge this second generation Note is as an MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) based on a supermini, but the designers have done a good job of making it look a surprisingly attractive piece of body sculpture. It's lower than before, which helps, and the headlights look anything but budget, while the tailgate is as practical and easy as ever. The Note is surprisingly spacious and even 6 ft passengers can fit in the back. Luggage capacity is a minimum 325 litres with the rear seat furthest back, increasing to 1,495 litres with seats folded and bags packed to the roof. Oddly the seat bases do not fold forward for maximum space. Length 4100 mm. Width 1695 mm.
Keyless entry and engine start makes town life easier eliminating the hunt in pockets or bags for the key. The driving position was compromised for me because the steering column only adjusts for rake, not for reach, which perhaps explains the odd positions you do see some Nissan drivers adopt. Also being tall I would have liked to have been able to sit lower than the driving seat allowed. The seat looked good but could have done with more lumbar support for the lower back.
The dashboard though is classy and attractive at this Acenta Premium trim level with an impressive colour reversing camera that comes with its own wash and blow dry system. A 360 degree view round the car is also shown on the screen. Switch to eco mode and the top of instrument area turns green if you are gentle with the throttle. The instruments mainly are clear and easy to read though the graphic showing how much right pedal you are using seems a waste of time.
The official laboratory tests give urban consumption at 54.3 mpg and a combined figure of 65.7 mpg. But despite running in eco mode the best I saw was 43.8 mpg round town and 55 mpg cruising gently late at night. The fuel consumption figure equates to a fuel cost of 9p per mile. Following the advice of the gear change up light frequently resulted in an immediate down change as the car slowed. Carbon dioxide emissions of 99/km mean there is no road tax to pay. The warranty is for three years/ 60,000 miles.
All Nissan Note models deliver low carbon dioxide emissions, achieved by efficient modern engines and automatic engine restart to save fuel in traffic. The new 1.2 litre supercharged engine is disappointing in use though and fitted with a CVT gearbox pushes the CO2 emissions of the car from 99g/km for the manual five-speed to 119g/km, though first year road tax is still only £20. The 1.5 litre diesel version is the economy champion and is much more enjoyable to drive, but you need to do plenty of miles to get value for the extra cost.
According to our calculations, the Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S Acenta Premium has a Next Green Car Rating of 29.
The entry level Visia model comes with daytime running lights, six airbags, front electric windows, cruise control, a CD player with USB input, automatic engine stop-start and electronic stability system to avoid skids. But the sliding rear bench is absent.
Acenta models gain body colour door mirrors and door handles, privacy glass and alloy wheels. The wheels are 16in on the supercharged petrol and 15in on other versions. Air conditioning and a height adjustable driver's seat help comfort. The rear seat now slides and an adjustable boot floor helps with stowage.
The test car, an Acenta Premium version is expected to take half of sales in the UK. It has Nissan Connect satellite navigation, climate control, front fog lights and automatic headlights and wipers. There's also Bluetooth mobile phone connectivity, cruise control and speed limiter, tyre pressure monitoring and steering wheel mounted audio controls. A safety pack includes blind spot and lane departure warning and rear movement sensors combined with a wide angle colour camera when reversing.
Model tested: Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S Acenta Premium
Body-style: Supermini based multi-purpose vehicle (MPV)
Engine/CO2: 97bhp 1198cc, three-cylinder supercharged petrol engine
Trim grades: Visia, Acenta, Acenta Premium and Tekna