Nissan Note


Debut: 2012
Maker: Nissan
Predecessor: Note / Tone (2005)



 Published on 19 Jul 2013 All rights reserved. 



In recent years, Nissan has been quite successful to launch unclassified vehicles like Qashqai and Juke while avoiding direct competition with its mainstream rivals. This explains why it can increase sales and profit in the shrinking Japanese and European market. However, the majority of buyers in the world still want conventional B and C-segment hatchbacks or compact sedans. Nissan's offering is relatively weak in these segments – the funky Cube is some kind of an acquired taste; March / Micra has been cheapened to please emerging markets and ignore the developed ones; Sunny / Versa and Sylphy / Sentra sedans are mediocre at best; The only car worth mentioning is Note. This car is a crossover between B-segment hatchback and mini-MPV, which fits the market trend of Japan and Europe. It should also appeal to the US market where compact hatchbacks are blooming. As a result, the second generation Note becomes a world car. It is being sold in Asia, Europe and North America (where it is confusingly called Versa Note even though it is not a derivative of Versa), whereas production takes place in Japan, UK and Mexico respectively.

The new car follows strictly the formula of the first generation. It is compact at 4100 mm long but rides on a 2600 mm wheelbase, which is near the territory of C-segment cars. The tall and narrow profile remains, while the monospace shape evolves to be even sleeker. It is quite a stylish design, with some resemblance to the last generation Mercedes A-class.



The conventional MacPherson strut and torsion beam suspension keeps the car simple, light and cost effective. Ditto the electrical power steering and small, 3-cylinder petrol engines. The latter come straight from March. The basic 1198 cc normally aspirated unit offers a decent 80 horsepower, while DIG-S (Direct injection gasoline supercharged) version employs a small supercharger to complement the fuel-efficient Miller-cycle combustion process, resulting in 98 horsepower and an even lower carbon footprint at 99 grams per kilometer. Its 105 lbft of torque gives adequate performance in real-world situation. Apart from the 3-cylinder pair, European model is offered with Renault's 1.5dCi turbo diesel. Its 90 hp output cannot match the DIG-S, but its peak torque of 147 lbft is significantly stronger thus it feels quicker on the road. Across the Atlantic, American buyers are served with the larger HR16DE four-cylinder with 109 hp (same as Versa sedan). Considering the car weighs just over 1100 kg, its performance should not be too disappointing to the power-hungry American.

While most European drivers will choose the 5-speed manual gearbox, Xtronic CVT will be by far the more popular choice in America and compulsory in its home market. The CVT is still not as obedient as shifting by yourself, but its rubberband effect, hence the high engine noise under acceleration, is much reduced, making itself a more agreeable companion.



On highway, the new Note is pretty refined, with minimal wind and tire noise. Nevertheless, its underpinning V-platform, also used in March and Sunny, does not excel in handling. Its suspension setting is comfort-biased, resulting in a loose body control. The European model gains stiffer springs, dampers and anti-roll bars, so it rolls less in corners while ride quality is still decent. Unfortunately, all versions share the same numb steering and a dull, understeering manner when approaching corner. This mean the car is boring to drive.

Inside, the Note earns high marks with the generous space it offers. A six-footer should have little problem to sit behind another of the same size, something cannot be said to most other B-segment hatchbacks. Despite of its MPV looks, its seating layout is not much more flexible than the mainstream European superminis – the rear seat is 40/60 split. It will slide and fold but not flat. The parcel shelf can be adjustable to different height. That's all. What it can't match European rivals is the build quality. All plastics are hard and shinny, and the dashboard design is just as uninspiring as that of Sunny / Versa. In short, it looks cheap behind the driver seat. What a pity, as the car looks so good outside. Nissan still concerns too much about cost control.
Verdict: 
Specifications





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Note 1.2
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4100 / 1695 / 1525 mm
2600 mm
Inline-3
1198 cc
DOHC 12 valves, VVT
-
-
80 hp
78 lbft
5-speed manual (CVT)
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
185/65HR15
1038 kg
104 mph (c)
12.9 (c) / 12.6*
-
Note 1.2DIG-S
2012
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4100 / 1695 / 1525 mm
2600 mm
Inline-3, Miller cycle
1198 cc
DOHC 12 valves
Supercharger
DI
98 hp
105 lbft
5-speed manual (CVT)
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/55HR16
1067 kg (1087 kg)
113 mph (c) (107 mph (c))
11.0 (c) ( 11.5 (c))
-
Note 1.5dCi (Europe)
2013
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4100 / 1695 / 1525 mm
2600 mm
Inline-4, diesel
1461 cc
SOHC 8 valves
Turbo
CDI
90 hp
147 lbft
5-speed manual
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/55HR16
1130 kg
111 mph (c)
11.2 (c)
-




Performance tested by: *Autocar





Year
Layout
Chassis
Body
Length / width / height
Wheelbase
Engine
Capacity
Valve gears
Induction
Other engine features
Max power
Max torque
Transmission
Suspension layout

Suspension features
Tires
Kerb weight
Top speed
0-60 mph (sec)
0-100 mph (sec)
Versa Note 1.6 (US)
2013
Front-engined, FWD
Steel monocoque
Mainly steel
4100 / 1695 / 1525 mm
2600 mm
Inline-4
1598 cc
DOHC 16 valves, DVVT
-
-
109 hp
107 lbft
5-speed manual (CVT)
F: strut
R: torsion-beam
-
195/55HR16
1095 kg (1125 kg)
115 mph (c)
9.5* (9.9*)
30.4* (41.5*)


















































Performance tested by: *C&D





AutoZine Rating

General models



    Copyright© 1997-2013 by Mark Wan @ AutoZine