2014 Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S review

* Supercharged petrol MPV driven in the UK * Only Note available with automatic 'box * On sale now, priced from £14,495...

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Ed Callow
10 April 2014

2014 Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S review

The Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S is the most powerful version of the company’s mini-MPV. Its supercharged petrol engine is offered with either a five-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox.

The Note is pitched as an alternative to conventional small cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Polo, but its competition also includes more practical cars, such as the Citroen C3 Picasso and Renault Captur.

In 1.5 diesel guise, the Nissan isn't far behind our favourite small MPV, the C3 Picasso, so this supercharged petrol version should also have plenty going for it.

What's the 2014 Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S like to drive?

The DIG-S is ultimately the quickest version of the latest Note, although you need to work its supercharged engine hard to make swift progress. The diesel version is much punchier at low revs, meaning you don't need to rev its engine as hard.

Still, the DIG-S's manual gearbox is slick – if a little light in its action – and the engine is reasonably hushed at low speeds. Like most other three-cylinder engines, the Note’s supercharged petrol thrums noisily when you rev it hard. Mind you, it’s certainly preferable to the grumbly diesel around town.

In fact, you’re more likely to notice the flutter of wind noise around the door mirrors and some tyre roar.

The DIG-S gets stiffer suspension than other Notes, but thankfully this doesn't spoil the comfortable ride. It remains settled over the UK’s scarred and patchy roads, and even the worst potholes are rounded off pretty well.

The stiffer set-up means that body control through corners is impressive, although the compromise is that larger expansion joints can cause the DIG-S to hop sideways in faster bends. The firmer suspension ultimately adds nothing to the driving experience, because the way the Note handles isn’t exactly fun to start with.

You do get precise and predictable steering, though, which is light enough around town to allow for easy manoeuvring.

What's the 2014 Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S inside?

The Note's cabin feels more upmarket than the Juke's and the Micra's, but it still isn't particularly plush or exciting. There are lots of hard plastics around the cabin, although they are at least textured and moulded. Still, all the buttons have a precise action, and they're conveniently positioned.

Seat-height adjustment is standard on all DIG-S models, although taller drivers may struggle because the steering wheels adjusts only for height, not reach. However, the seats are supportive and all-round visibility is pretty good. In fact, the latter is even better if you add Nissan’s all-round camera system called Around View Monitor.

The Note is pretty roomy inside, too. There’s plenty of space for driver and passenger, and even with a six-footer behind the wheel there’s loads of head- and legroom in the rear.

The Note’s boot expands from 325 litres to 411 litres when the rear bench is slid forward, and the DIG-S’s standard Flexiboard allows the space to be divided into various configurations.

The rear seats split 60/40 and fold almost flat, but it’s a shame they can’t be slid forward and back as independent units. If carrying capacity is your priority, then the C3 Picasso is a better bet.

The DIG-S engine isn’t offered in Visia trim, so prices start at £14,495 for Acenta spec. This gets you a CD player, Bluetooth, air-conditioning, cruise control, six airbags, electric windows and heated door mirrors.

Upgrading to Acenta Premium costs another £900, which adds automatic lights and wipers, climate control and a 5.8-inch touch-screen sat-nav system. You can also add a £400 option pack to get Nissan’s Around View Monitor and Safety Shield. The latter includes blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and a system that uses the rear camera to alert you to moving objects when reversing.

Range-topping Tekna trim costs from £16,100 and - as you’d expect - gets all this technology as standard. It also adds keyless entry and start, part-leather trim and a leather steering wheel, but we think the cheaper Notes are better value. 

Should I buy one?

The Note offers a spacious cabin and is also relatively good to drive. What's more, it's competitively priced compared with rivals from Citroen and Honda.

True, the Note has a smaller boot than a C3 Picasso and isn't as classy inside, but it's more comfortable, better equipped and will still be big and flexible enough for most buyers' needs.

It’s also likely to be very reliable; the old car was one of the most dependable cars in the 2013 JD Power ownership satisfaction survey.

What’s more, despite being the most powerful engine in the range, the DIG-S’s CO2 emissions of just 99g/km make it the cheapest Note for company car drivers. It also costs £1000 less than the diesel model, so will be a tempting prospect for low-mileage private buyers, too.

In either Acenta or Acenta Premium trim, then, the Note 1.2 DIG-S is a well priced and spacious mini-MPV. It’s well worth considering, but make sure you drive a C3 Picasso before making your decision.

What Car? says...


Citroen C3 Picasso Honda Jazz

Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S manual
Engine size Supercharged 1.2-litre petrol
Price from £14,495
Power 97bhp
Torque 108lb ft
0-62mph 11.7 seconds
Top speed 113mph
Fuel economy 65.7mpg
CO2 99g/km

Nissan Note 1.2 DIG-S CVT
Engine size Supercharged 1.2-litre petrol
Price from £15,495
Power 97bhp
Torque 108lb ft
0-62mph 12.2 seconds
Top speed 107mph
Fuel economy 55.4mpg
CO2 119g/km