Nissan Note, I suddenly understand why it takes me so much time to
write about cars. In the past, Nissan had just one small car, March
(Micra). These days car makers regard that using a dedicated platform
for one model is a waste of money. They try to develop multiple models
from one platform. As a result, they reduced the no. of platform yet
multiplied the no. of models they offer. Take the current March for
example, from that platform Nissan derived the funky Cube, the larger
Tiida and then it
added another model called Note (it will be known as Tone to European).
No wonder I have to write about so many cars each months ! Not only
that, the same platform also gave birth to Renault Modus and Clio III,
creating more difficulties for car journalists - how can we not fall
asleep when writing so many similar cars ?
Note is the second largest
derivative of the March platform. Its wheelbase of 2600 mm equals to that of the
Tiida but the length is limited to 4 meters. From its tall, boxy
profile you may confuse
it with a mini MAV like Opel Meriva and Fiat Idea. However, its cabin
does not have much flexible functions. Items such as sliding rear
seats, folding tables and underseat drawers are not available. It only
provides a fold flat 60/40 split rear seat and an additional storage
space under the boot floor.
Anyway, the boxy body and
long wheelbase offer plenty of space inside for four adults. This make
me wonder why we need C-segment cars (e.g. Renault Megane) when
B-segment derivatives can offer as much interior space. Space is no
longer a reason, but quality and refinement may be. Inevitably, the
cheaper ingredients of the March platform is obvious in the Note.
Although Nissan already employs some new fabrics and dashboard
materials to brighten the cabin, it still lacks the quality feel of
larger cars. The emphasis here is simplicity and ease of use.
Being a Japanese city car,
the Note should be economical and easy to drive. The former is achieved
by a new all-alloy HR15DE engine and CVT, both share with Tiida. The
latter is implemented by a small turning circle and light electric
power steering. The 109 horsepower engine provides decent performance
while noise suppression is pretty good by class standard. The strut and
torsion-beam suspensions deliver fool-proof handling and decent ride
comfort. Just don't expect too much grip from the 175/60 tires, or any
feedback from the steering wheel.