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Nissan Note Hatchback engines, drive and performance

2006 - 2013 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by David Ross Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

There are three engines available in the Note – two petrols and a diesel. The entry-level unit is a 88bhp 1.4-litre petrol which can feel like hard work in anything but town driving, but does return a useful 45mpg. The 1.6-litre is a better choice and is the same engine that’s used in the Micra 160SR and C+C convertible. It’s a cracking engine with 110bhp and a decent turn of speed for keener drivers, allowing effortless overtaking and plenty of pace for backroad blasts.

0-62mph takes 10.7 seconds and it’s also available with a four-speed automatic gearbox. The 1.5-litre dCi diesel is actually available in two power outputs of either 86bhp or 103bhp – the more powerful model also has better low down pulling power. The 86bhp version is good enough for most situations and pulls well from low revs while returning a very impressive 57mpg.

It can struggle on the motorway but there are no such worries with the 103bhp version. It is still frugal (at 55mpg) but manages the 0-62mph sprint in 11.1 seconds – almost two seconds quicker – and feels noticeably more responsive when accelerating.

The Note is designed to take the stress and strain out of town driving, which it does well, with light accurate steering, a tight turning circle and well-placed controls. Nissan has done a good job of making sure that the car drives in a way that’s well-suited to British tastes and roads. The suspension gives a good ride without sacrificing the handling and it’s 25 per cent stiffer than the Micra, which means it feels composed through fast corners.

The 1.6-litre model has a slightly different character to other models in the range. The steering is sharper with more feel and weight, making it much more fun to drive, plus – like all models – there’s good grip and minimal bodyroll through corners.