MOTORS REVIEW: Nissan NOTE Acenta 1.5 dci

Nissan NOTE Acenta 1.5 dciNissan NOTE Acenta 1.5 dci
Nissan NOTE Acenta 1.5 dci
THERE'S a peculiar sensation when you walk away from Nissan's NOTE, that strange realisation that the car you have just been in appears smaller than you imagined as you glance back over your shoulder.

Engine: 1.5-litre, turbo-charged diesel

Power: 85bhp and 147lb.ft.

Performance: to 62mph in 13.3 seconds and 102mph

Fuel economy: 62.8mpg (combined)

CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Price: £13,535

Rating: ****

Without employing the usual Doctor Who-related metaphor, it's tribute to Nissan's designers that the packaging of their hatchback offers saloon-rivalling levels of leg and head room in such a compact form.

And it was this, the NOTE's combination of sheer space and practicality, which won me over during my recent test.

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Despite Nissan's 2009 revamp the NOTE's styling is still a little conservative, even for the family market for which it was clearly intended, but for a car that's big in the usability stakes, the lack of flamboyance seems to fit.

At the front, there's a new nose with a reshaped bonnet, bumper, streamlined headlights and a gloss black finish to the grille and the Acenta-spec car seen here boasts 15 inch alloy wheels.

The rear is square—making the most of the available space—with tall, slender light clusters that drape themselves neatly from the roof, down the back of the car. It's a neat, nicely resolved piece of styling.

Prices for the Note range from £9,990 for the 87bhp, 1.4-litre, petrol-engined Visia, to £13,990 for the range-topping 108bhp, 1.6-litre petrol-engined Tekna.

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There is also an 85bhp, 1.5-litre dci engine and the Acenta mid-range spec tested here.

At £13,535 with optional metallic paint (£395) it comes with the excellent new Nissan Connect system which integrates Sat-Nav, a stereo with USB connection for your ipod and Bluetooth telephone connectivity.

Along with cruise control, heated door mirrors and air conditioning the Acenta boasts a healthy-spec.

It's not cheap but does come coupled with the £35 annual road tax afforded by the 1.5-litre dci engine.

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Designed in partnership with Renault the Euro IV-compliant unit returns an genuine 62.8mpg and carbon dioxide emissions of just 119g/km.

Performance is not exactly sprightly with a sprint to 62mph taking 13.3 secs and a top speed of 102mph, however.

The 1.5 dci's 147lb.ft. of torque, coupled with a supple suspension makes it a very comfortable cruiser, covering large distances with great aplomb for such a small car—the lack of accelerative pace negated once up to speed.

The NOTE's real trump card comes in the form of interior accommodation.

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Spacious and airy it betrays its exterior dimensions in terms of leg and headroom.

A fairly lofty driving position adds to this sense of scale but manoeuvring in small spaces is made easy by impressive visibility.

Being able to see the top of the headlights from behind the wheel also makes locating the car's extremities a breeze.

The interior's a little plastic but not cheap feeling. Crisp and functional.

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So many of the buttons and controls are integrated neatly into the dash-mounted Connect system that there is no clutter.

The navigation and audio systems are clear and function exceptionally well. Few Sat-Nav systems make such an immediate friend of me and Connect even offers an 'eco' mode which selects the most fuel efficient route to your destination...genius.

Flexible space is the real boon, though, with rear seats that slide 160mm fore and aft to alleviate leg room or boot space and Nissan's Flexi-Board system.

There is a minimum of 280 litres luggage space. However, the load area has a false floor—the Flexi-Board system—which can be removed to increase the load volume of upto 437 litres.

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Folding the rear seat backs increases load volume to 1332 litres.

The NOTE came as a welcome surprise to me. Compact, yet spacious, comfortable and frugal it ticked more boxes than I ever imagined it could.

It's not a cheap car and it still lacks a dose of street cred but, be in no doubt, it's the class' top mini SUV.

If it looked a little more dramatic perhaps people would really stand up and take NOTE...

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