By Patrick James on 2014-05-17 - The author has been a motoring writer for more than 16 years. Formerly motoring editor at the Coventry Telegraph, he now produces motoring copy, on new car launches and road tests on a freelance basis.
Nissan Note Acenta
Premium 1.2 DIG-S
THE Nissan Note has always been the equivalent of a safe pair of hands since introduction in 2006.
Worthy, practical and economical and popular for those not looking for something of, well, note. Even dull.
That has changed with the latest incarnation of the mini-MPV, built at the Nissan plant in Sunderland.
Its boxy profile has given way to a sleek, sleek enough to challenge the best looking, even more practical and economical vehicle, particularly now with a new 1.2-litre petrol engine.
It is also well equipped, even at entry level, with a competitive price tag. Entry level models include MP3 connectivity, cruise control, electric front windows and remote central locking.
The model I tried adds Bluetooth, automatic headlight and wipers and multi-function steering and air condition to name but a few extras.
Styling cues include an eye-catching front light cluster which feature the ubiquitous daytime running lights, diamond cut 16-inch alloy wheels, rear privacy glass, rear roof spoiler, side sills and new front bumper with a glossy black grille.
It is definitely a massive departure from its boxy predecessor and proved to be a bit of a head turner.
Beauty isn't skin deep and the interior is just as stylish with black finish in hard rather than soft touch plastics which do detract somewhat from the overall package. It feels well put together and sturdy and the layout of the controls and switchgear are neat and logical with white backlit dials and small and stylish steering wheel.
The seating is comfortable and access and egress is straightforward as you would expect from a mini-MPV.
You would also expect decent head and legroom and you would not be disappointed. Six footers have enough headroom and even in the rear the sliding rear seat allowed for extra knee room.
One of a new breed of engines which feature three, rather than four cylinders, the supercharged DIG-S it is both powerful and frugal, while delivering a pleasing engine note.
DIG-S (standing for Direct Injection Gasoline - Supercharged) produces 98ps and plenty of torque for good pulling power.
It is cheap to fuel and cheap to run with features like Nissan's Idle Stop/Start system that cuts the engine completely when the car is stationary.
It is a pretty refined unit under normal driving conditions with good torque levels to deliver excellent pulling power.
It certainly isn't the quickest off the mark with the sprint from 0-60mph taking a leisurely 11.7 seconds but once under way it pulls comfortably through the five gears.
Claimed economy of 65.7mpg is stunning for a petrol car and emissions of just 99g/km exempt it from road tax and puts in one of the the lowest brackets for company car tax.
On the road it is comfortable if slightly firm ride but thanks to revised suspension feels taut and tight on corners, again a departure from its predecessor. Wind and road noise are also well suppressed.
It looks stylish but practicality is the key with small MPVs and the Note delivers with large 325 litres split-level boot and rear bench which slides forward to create 411 litres and then folds for a maximun cargo space of 1,495 litres. Extra carrying space is available with various pockets and oddment holders throughout the cabin.
Safety kit is comprehensive with front, side and curtain airbags, Isofix points and assisted braking with stabilityprogramme.
There are some interesting options available for those who like a bit of technical wizardry with practicality. The Nissan Safety Shield uses cameras and sensors to monitor the area around the car.
It also incorporates blind spot warning, lane departure warning and moving object detection to alert the driver to potential hazards while on the move - although the constant beeping of the lane departure warning can be a bit annoying. Better to stay in lane I suppose.
It's quite a package in what is now a seriously stylish car. At a starting price of just over £12,000 if offers plenty for the money, it always has, but now has real road presence and trips to the petrol station will be less frequent with its new breed of frugal engines.
Nissan Note Acenta Premium 1.2 DIG-S
Mechanical: 98ps, 1,198cc, 3cyl petol engine driving front wheels via 5-speed manual gearbox
Max Speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 11.7 seconds
Combined MPG: 65.7
Insurance Group: TBC
C02 emissions: 99g/km
Bik rating: 12%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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