AFTER seven years of sterling service from the original, the second generation of Nissan's Note recently hit the roads in the UK.
The Japanese car-maker has given its supermini a comprehensive makeover with much-improved looks blurring the lines between mini-MPV and hatchback.
The upright, van-like stance of the first version has been replaced by softer, curvy contours, a swooping roof line and dramatic scoops along the flanks.
At the front the bold new interlocking headlamp and grille arrangement helps to give the car a more dynamic look than its predecessor, as do the flared wheel arches.
Some of the more quirky extremes of the first-generation car - such as those fussy tail-light clusters stretching up onto the roof - are also gone, all of which gives the new Note a more upmarket look that should broaden its appeal somewhat.
Three engine options are available including two distinct 1.2-litre, three-cylinder petrol units, one being supercharged, which are both pretty economical - but the 1.5-litre diesel in my test car is likely to prove the popular choice.
A result of Nissan's alliance with Renault, the 90ps turbocharged power-pack is not the most refined oil burner out there, with some diesel rattle and vibration under acceleration, but it quietens down nicely at cruising speed.
Such minor grumbles are easy to forgive, however, when carbon emissions of just 92g/km mean it is exempt from road tax and average fuel economy of close to 80 miles per gallon and a low insurance group mean it'll costs peanuts to run.
The new Note's a pretty easy and relaxing car to drive too. Acceleration is unlikely to set the pulse racing, but that's not really the point here, and a top speed of 111mph is more than enough for a family runaround.
The car is built on Nissan's new rigid but lightweight V platform which, coupled with a reworked suspension and minimal overhangs at the front and rear, make it very stable on the road.
Grip is assured, body movement kept in check very well and overall handling proves to be sharp and nimble while the well-weighted and accurate steering makes manoeuvring around town simple.
And passengers remain largely unruffled as the new Note remains settled even on pretty poor road surfaces.
The stylish new looks have not had any impact on the Note's versatile internal space and practicality, which is very impressive for a car of its size.
The cabin is comfortable, light and airy and there is plenty of head and legroom for four adults to fit with ease.
Although, there's still a lot of hard, scratchy plastic around everything feels solid and the gloss black finish to the well-laid out and intuitive centre console is a nice touch.
The infotainment system is set at a good height and beneath that sits a neat and distinctive circular arrangement of controls for heating and ventilation.
Some good oddment storage around the cabin includes a double glovebox, with the top compartment housing aux-in and USB sockets for the discrete connection of portable devices.
A 295-litre boot, with an extra 30-litres beneath the floor is also pretty good for a supermini but this Acenta Premium spec car also had a sliding rear bench and multi-level floor for added versatility.
With the rear seats slid fully forward the capacity rises to an impressive 411 litres and if you fold the 60/40 split rear seat backs down there's a massive 2,012 litres of load space.
This trim level also offers plenty of bells and whistles with sat nav, climate control, heated wing mirrors, privacy glass, front fog lights and automatic headlights and wipers all included.
ABS brakes, stability control and all the usual airbags take care of safety but for a very reasonable £400 you can add on Nissan's acclaimed around view monitor, which provides a 360 degree bird's eye view around the car when reversing, as well as the company's safety shield package, with blind spot and lane-departure warning as well a system which gives an audible and visual alert if someone or something is moving behind the car when reversing.