Nissan is very excited about the all-new version of its mini-MPV, Note. We say MPV, but Nissan actually wants to distance new Note from that description and position it in the heart of the busy B-segment where cars such as the VW Polo and Ford Fiesta reign supreme.
They've priced it competitively, packed it with technology and made it sit lower on the road, giving it a sportier, more dynamic stance.
What is it?
In a nutshell, Nissan's new B-segment contender. The holy grail for all manufacturers (well, anyone who makes anything really) is to retain existing customers and win new ones and that is what Nissan is hoping to achieve. Nissan says it has retained the practical feel of old Note, keeping existing buyers on board; yet added vim and vigour to attract a new breed of Note driver. A boat-load of marketing activity is on its way in the autumn to target these potential new – and younger – Note drivers.
What's under the bonnet?
Three engines are available from launch: a 1.2-litre three-cylinder unit that generates 78bhp; a 96bhp 1.2-litre supercharged DIG-S and a 1.5-litre dCi diesel that produces 86bhp. A CVT transmission is available on the 1.2-litre DIG-S engine.
Impressive. Nissan says it is bringing levels of technology to the B sector that have never been seen there before. The 'Safety Shield' is key here, linking three safety systems to create a comprehensive driver assistance protection package. The four-model range starts with the entry-level Visia from £11,900 that features Idle stop/start, front electric windows, remote central locking and cruise control. Acenta models – expected to be the best-sellers of the bunch – start at £13,250 and add alloy wheels air-conditioning, Bluetooth and a sliding rear seat bench. Acenta Premium variants start at £14,150 and feature NissanConnect, climate control and automatic lights and wipers The range-topping Tekna model starts at £15,950 and features 16-inch alloy wheels, part-leather seats, Around View Monitor and the three Safety Shield technologies as standard, along with Intelligent Key with start/stop button, leather steering wheel and automatic air conditioning.
Er, yes. Lots. Chief among these is Ford's all-conquering Fiesta. Nissan is certainly not expecting to dislodge the car from its long-held place at the top of the sales charts, but it is hoping to win over a few Fiesta fans. Note will also be hoping to strike the right chord with people who currently drive Vauxhall Corsas, Renault Clios and VW Polos.
What's it like to drive?
We tried two models during a special Nissan small car event in Bratislava: the 1.2 DIG-S model and the 1.5 dCi, both with manual transmission. Of the two, the diesel-powered Note was easily the one we preferred, capable and willing, with direct, accurate steering and an eager, torquey feel. The 1.2 didn't quite rise to the occasion in the same way, though still provided a pleasant drive. The safety tech is all very clever too – with gizmos and gadgets such as Around View Monitor (a system that gives a 360 degrees, birds eye view of the car at slow speeds) making life behind the wheel much easier.
The AOL Cars verdict
As we've said, Nissan certainly has high hopes for the Note and we're sure it can do well if they get the marketing right this autumn. At the moment, it maybe has the image of a car for retirees, but if more families and youngsters get behind the wheel they'll be home and dry and could sell up to 20,000 units a year. New Note deserves to do well. It's practical, priced well and is now styled to suit a wider age range.
Model: Note Tekna
Engine: 1.2 litre petrol DIG-S
Max speed: 112mph
Emissions: 99g/km of CO2