Who are you guys?
Nissan note acenta 2008
Half supermini, half MPV. The Nissan Note is the Frankenstein’s creation of a frustrated family man. There’s no doubt its combination of small size, tiny price and big practicality appeals. Buyers have taken to the Note, and it’s even held on to the coveted Best Supermini-MPV award in Auto Express’s New Car Honours for two years running.
The Nissan is the largest car here – and that’s clear at a glance. Its upright, people carrier-inspired shape is closer to the Jazz than the low-slung Fiesta, and it arguably has the more attractive lines of the two tall models. This is particularly true from the rear, where the distinctive light clusters stretching over the roof help it stand out.
Climb inside and you will begin to see just how the Nissan can carry such a low price tag despite being the biggest car on test: the cabin simply can’t match the quality of the others. The dashboard borrows many features from the smaller Micra and much of the switchgear, along with the dials, is beginning to look tired.
You’re better off sitting in the back, where the Japanese model has taken a leaf out of the Jazz’s book for versatility. The Note’s party trick is its sliding bench, which varies legroom from 640mm to 790mm. So when you don’t have much luggage, you can offer passengers more space than either rival.
The boot could also teach Ford a lesson in versatility. It’s trimmed in durable plastics, and comes with a neat false floor, similar to the Jazz’s. As a result, you have the choice of a flat luggage space with no load lip or a deeper boot for larger items.
While diesel power makes great sense in this hard-working little family car, our Note had a 1.4-litre petrol engine under the bonnet. The unit is soon to be revised to reduce its emissions, yet it feels reasonably responsive despite the Nissan’s 1,167kg weight. The Note is comfortable around town and a capable motorway cruiser, too. Only when the road gets more challenging does the chassis begin to reveal a few flaws. Hit a mid-corner bump and the wheel jolts in your hands as the soft set-up causes the car to buck and lurch around where both the Jazz and Fiesta retain composure.
Fast roundabouts soon see the Nissan’s nose pushing wide, too. There’s not a lot of fun to be had in the Note; where its rivals feel taut and engaging, it’s much happier to remain at a more sedate pace.
So, where will the Nissan fit into this test? Whether or not its top supermini-MPV title is under threat depends on how you pigeonhole the new Jazz. The Honda’s larger size takes it closer to Note territory, yet bosses insist they’re targeting normal superminis. That won’t be important to potential buyers, though – if you want versatility on a budget, be sure to add the Note to your shortlist.
Model tested: Nissan Note Acenta
Chart position: 3
WHY: Note heads space race, and won Best Supermini-MPV in our New Car Honours 2008.
The practical Nissan splits the Honda and Ford on price. Add up the figures, though, and it has the weakest residual value and the highest servicing costs – so you clearly need to think beyond the initial outlay. The Note won’t be music to the ears of company car users, either, as its emissions are the worst in this test. Fleet drivers should wait for the soon-to-be-launched lower CO2 version. Look at the specs and you’ll also spot another quirk. Acenta trim doesn’t include stability control – and the set-up can’t even be specified as an option.
A revised version of the Note’s 1.4-litre petrol engine goes on sale next month, with CO2 emissions reduced from 150g/km to 139g/km. That will bring the British-built model in line with the competition.
It’s great value, superbly practical and offers more than adequate dynamics. but that wasn’t enough for the Note. While the Nissan is worth a look, the Jazz is a more modern package if you can live with the shortfall in load capacity and the Fiesta is more desirable.New BMW 5 Series gets M Performance styling and power - pictures