When the Nissan Note was first introduced here in 2013, it came in two flavours: naturally aspirated and supercharged. Both models utilised a 1.2-litre 3-cylinder engine.
The latter was particularly interesting. It was the first supercharged Japanese model in Singapore since the Subaru Vivio RX-R.
However, despite having 98bhp and 142Nm, the supercharged Note was unfortunately, notably slow. It resisted all attempts at being driven quickly, perhaps in a bid to realise its combined consumption figure of 19.6km/L.
The Nissan Note got better following a facelift, with the supercharged model finally getting pep in its step. Nissan had tweaked the CVT and adjusted the steering. Then, new emission regulations arrived and killed this model.
Now the Nissan Note is back, and this time, it is finally the supermini it should have been all along.
NISSAN NOTE: ELECTRIFIED LITTLE ONE
Powering the all-new Nissan Note is the brand’s e-POWER hybrid drivetrain. However, unlike typical hybrids that use the internal combustion engine and/or electric motor to power the wheels, e-POWER only uses electricity to drive the car.
The Note’s 1.2-litre 3-cylinder motor merely acts a generator to recharge the lithium-ion batteries.
Essentially, the driver enjoys the advantage of an EV (electric vehicle), without the hassle of needing an external charging point. The Note does not have one anyway. You pump petrol to “charge” it.
Nissan says that the Note e-POWER covers up to 21.7km/L, an improvement over the 19.6km/L offered by its supercharged predecessor.
More importantly, the Nissan Note has better performance, too. Its e-POWER drivetrain delivers 114hp (115PS, 85kW) and 280Nm. The torque figure is nearly double the supercharged model’s.
ZIPPIER AND GREENER
This Note feels a lot better to drive than its supercharged predecessor. It is quieter, punchier and more responsive, too.
Slicing your way through traffic is easy thanks to the car’s compact size and quicker acceleration. Zero to 100km/h is now nine seconds instead of 12 seconds, so expressway runs are more effortless.
Nissan tuned the e-POWER drivetrain so that the engine typically comes on when you’re cruising on the highway. Since there’s more road noise at speed, you hardly notice the engine running.
The internal combustion motor is more palpable if it does come on at crawling speeds. But to be fair, this is not irritating – none of my passengers ever complained about drivetrain noise.
The Note offers three driving modes: Eco, Normal and Sport. I found myself content with Eco mode, for it did not weaken the air-con’s throughput or retard the motor’s responsiveness.
Eco mode tells the car to maximise the regenerative braking function, so you get stronger “engine braking” and more energy is recuperated.
Nissan says this also allows for “one pedal” driving. But since the Note does not come to a complete halt, this is only partly true.
What is real, though, is the Nissan Note’s efficiency. After three days and 170km, the trip computer logged an average of 19.1km/L. In heavy traffic, this dropped to 15.8km/L, which is still relatively good.
Superminis are expected to be nimble and the Note ticks this box, too. Apart from being manoeuvrable, outward visibility is also good.
The Note also comes with an Intelligent Rearview Mirror, which lets you swop between a regular mirror and a digital one, which displays footage from a rear camera.
USEFUL, FLEXIBLE AND BETTER-LOOKING
The Nissan Note’s overall build quality has gone up by two notches. Gone is the overly plain and plasticky interior. In its place is a stylish cabin with softer materials and digital screens.
Scrolling through the different menus and accessing the pertinent information is easy. I also like how the designers integrated the Note’s lattice-like grille design into the background of the various menus. Details like this reflect their efforts.
More thought, however, should have gone into the design of the centre console. The dual-layer setup might be fine for some, but not me. I don’t wish to stow anything below because I might forget it, so the lower layer is superfluous.
That said, the Zero Gravity seats are cushy, the backseat is roomy and the cabin is very flexible. I could fit my full-size bicycle after folding down the rear seats and moving the front passenger seat forward.
Mind you, I did not have to remove any of the wheels to accomplish this. You might have to do that for a mountain bike, though, since they tend to have larger frames and chunkier wheels.
TAKE NOTES OR PLAY MUSIC?
The Nissan Note e-POWER’s direct rival is the Honda Jazz e:HEV, which is a petrol-electric hybrid.
But with the Jazz yet to officially arrive in Singapore, Nissan currently has the first mover advantage.
I can’t say which model is better yet. But for now, if you are in the market for a supermini that’s punchy, roomy and useful, take this car for a spin and start taking notes.
Nissan Note e-POWER Premium 1.2 (A)
ENGINE 1198cc, 12-valves, inline-3
ELECTRIC MOTOR AC Synchronous
MAX POWER 114hp (85kW, 115PS)
MAX TORQUE 280Nm
POWER TO WEIGHT 93.4hp per tonne
GEARBOX Single-speed reduction gear
0-100KM/H 9 seconds
TOP SPEED 150km/h
CONSUMPTION 21.7km/L (combined)
PRICE INCL. COE From $104,800 (after $15k VES rebate)
AGENT Tan Chong Motor Sales