The Nissan Note is a kind car – and that’s not something we say often about vehicles. You can’t help but look fondly upon its small and simple shape. The same sense of warmth and contentment percolates through you when you drive it, thanks to its effortless, no-sweat approach. It’s so friendly, from inside and out, that even other drivers seem more courteous too.
The grille on the front of the Nissan Note is shaped like a big, wide cheesy grin. It makes it look cheerful, approachable, sort of loveable. That happy face is the most memorable part of the Note’s appearance. The rest is much more functional as its profile isn’t that dissimilar to a small van – exactly what you need when maximising interior space and practicality.
There have been a couple of generations of the Note so far. Both are small, cute cars and share that same tall rectangular silhouette. The early model - built from 2004 to 2013 - doesn’t have the characteristic smiley grille that the new one sports.
The grille on the front of the Nissan Note is shaped like a big, wide cheesy grin.
What’s it like to drive?
What’s more significant than the way the Nissan Note drives is how it makes you drive. It creates such an easy, calming environment, it’s almost impossible to be rushed or agitated. It isn’t a fast car – of course it isn’t, that’s not really what it’s designed for. The soothing effect it has on your attitude, though, means you’ll never want for more performance.
The key to these relaxing conditions is simplicity. The controls are perfectly simple to use - even an automatic gearbox is available to make it even more straightforward to drive. It’s comfortable enough, cruises on big roads perfectly well and its tall driving position – which allows you to look out over the top of most other cars – helps make it effortless to manoeuvre.
The key to these relaxing conditions is simplicity.
What the Note’s interior lacks in pizzaz, it more than makes up for in logic. Black is the dominant colour, which gives the inside a slightly sombre look. The icons and text for each button and the digits on the dash are white, clear and easy to read. There’s not much in the way of gadgets, which only adds to the car’s simplicity. Only on higher-spec models do you get useful cameras that show a bird’s eye view of the car on a central screen, making parking even easier.
Given the Nissan Note is quite a small car, there’s a surprising amount of space inside. Its tall roof, which stretches right to the boot, means there’s plenty of headroom for tall adults in the front and back seats, and the legroom to match.
The car’s real speciality is just how easy it is to get in and out. All doors are big and square so you never need to weave or contort yourself to get into it. Plus, all of the Note’s seats are set high, allowing you to slide elegantly on to them.
The Nissan Note doesn’t just look a little bit like a van, it does a mighty fine impression of one, too. It doesn’t have the multifunctional, or totally removable, rear seats like its rivals do. They do fold down, making a space that's big enough to squeeze a full-size pushbike into. Even with the seats up, there’s plenty of room for big suitcases, a pushchair and a large dog.
Up front, along with a set of cupholders and door bins, are a pair of gloveboxes – one above the other. The top one, with its flat bottom, is incredibly useful for storing things that need to be kept horizontal.
Running costs and reliability
Not only do the Nissan Note’s small engines use relatively little fuel – you can hope for more than 45mpg from the petrol engines and over 55mpg from the diesel version –they’re often so economical they cost very little to tax each year.
What we love
We love how easily the little Nissan Note can slot into your life. This isn’t a car to excite, it’s a car to calm. It’s for journeys that need to be made, with minimum fuss, and minimum expenditure. It’s easy to get into, simple to drive, big enough for your family and roomy enough for your stuff.
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There’s an argument to say the world would be a much better, kinder place if everyone drove Nissan Notes – it has such a soothing effect on your outlook whenever you're in it. And really, most people don’t need anything more than a Nissan Note–it’s simply that useful.
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