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First drive Nissan Note 1.5dCi diesel – on sale now



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According to Nissan Europe’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Brian Carolin: “Note is a segment busting non-conformist design to appeal to buyers for whom traditional family segment cars are just too conservative. It offers genuine choice without compromise.”

Designed, engineered and manufactured in the UK, the Note aims to appeal as much to the head as to the heart, promising a family hatchback and the comfort and equipment levels of a C segment car, “but with the agility and easy driving qualities” of a B segment vehicle.

Technically the Note is a B+ segment vehicle, falling between B and C. At 4,083mm long, the new car is bigger than the Micra and the Renault Modus, which both share the same platform as the Note.

A real coup for the car is the fact its overall length is less than the VW Golf, yet it has a longer wheelbase, maximizing interior space. A tick for Carolin’s “segment busting” claim, then.

Cabin space is helped by the sliding rear bench seat, which can be moved by up to 160mm to increase load space or legroom, as required.

The Note bristles with neat storage solutions and well thought out features to make family journeys as hassle free as possible.

The nine-litre glovebox, which can be heated or cooled on SE and SVE models, will swallow up to 12 cans of tooth rotting fizzy pop. The backs of the front seats offer aircraft-style folding trays and expanding pockets.

The boot offers further innovative touches with the Note’s Flexi-Board system. The reversible false floor offers carpet on one side and a wipe-clean surface on the other. Remove the board, which can carry up to 50kg, and discrete additional storage space is revealed.

The boot is also home to one of the car’s three 12 volt power sockets, perfect for running portable DVD players, electronic games or a cool box, for example.

Three engine options and three trim levels are available. The 1.4-litre and 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel units are offered in either S, or SE spec, while the range topping SVE spec is only offered on the 1.6-litre petrol and 1.5-litre diesel.

S models have electric front windows, remote central locking and a CD player. For £1,000 more, SE adds air conditioning, the Flexi-Board system, 15in alloys, electric/heated door mirrors, electric rear windows, rear cabin/reading lights, a driver’s centre armrest, a six-speaker stereo and extra exterior colour-coding.

SVE versions are a further £1,000, with climate control, electric-folding mirrors, 16in alloys, part-leather upholstery, a six-CD autochanger automatic headlights and wipers and rear tinted glass. Options include the Intelligent Key system, which automatically locks and unlocks doors and has a turn-button starter, a Family Pack, Comfort Pack and either metallic or black paint.

Launched in the UK on March 1 2006, Note sold 4,777 units in its first three months and is on target to sell 17,218 by the year end.

Behind the wheel

Despite sharing a common platform with the Micra and Modus, the Note feels markedly different to drive. The steering has a better weight and feel than the Micra, making it more engaging to drive. Steering lock, too, is very good, making u-turns a breeze.

Driving position is good, as is forward visibility, although the extra-thick D-pillar can make rear visibility an issue.

Our 1.5dCi diesel test car’s engine develops 86bhp and 147lb ft of torque. This makes for adequate, if not lively performance, but the 55.4mpg (combined) it returns should sweeten the pill for budget conscious families.

The engine would benefit from a six-speed gearbox, too, for more relaxed motorway progress.

#AM_ART_SPLIT# Price: £12,995 (£13,595 as tested)
Engine: 1.5-litre 8v turbo diesel; 86bhp, 147lb ft torque
Performance: 0-62mph 13sec; top speed 104mph
Transmission: Five speed manual
Efficiency: 55.4mpg, 135g/km CO2
CAP RV 3yr/30k: £4,925 (38%)
Rivals: Vauxhall Meriva, Renault Modus, VW Golf Plus, Honda Jazz, Seat Altea
Strength: Storage, rear legroom, fuel economy
Weakness: Limited model line-up
Opportunity: Tempt buyers who have outgrown Micra
Threat :Potential buyers opt for full-sized MPV
USP: The Nissan Micra has just got family-sized

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