The latest models have new looks with sector-first technologies and innovation.
Nissan Note. Seamlessly connecting design and technology, the new Note five door supermini cum compact MPV brings for the first time a number of innovative premium features to the small car market and the four-door body accommodates a 325 - 411-litres boot space.
From the Nissan Safety Shield – which links three safety systems to create a comprehensive protection and driver assistance package – to the advanced around view monitor which gives a 360-degree bird’s eye view when parking, the new Note sets the benchmark for accessible premium technology.
Blind Spot Warning, Lane Departure Warning and an advanced Moving Object Detection system combine to deliver a new level of assistance to the driver behind the Safety Shield.
Note is powered by a range of engines that combine low running costs with strong performance. Three units are on offer: a 1.2-litre petrol with 80PS, a supercharged 1.2-litre DIG-S petrol with 98PS and a 90PS 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel. A CVT auto transmission is available on the DIG-S models or there are standard five-speed manual gearboxes.
All variants are equipped with an idle stop/start system as standard and record CO2 emissions as low as 92g/km for diesel and 99g/km for petrol. Combined fuel economy figures range from 65.7mpg for the 80PS 1.2-litre petrol engine to 78.5mpg for the 1.5-litre dCi.
They come in familiar Visia, Acenta and Tekna trim levels but owners can also specify a family pack or performance styling pack. Prices range from £11,900 to £16,950 plus the cost of packs.
Nissan Micra. With over 30 years of history and sales of over six million units to date, the Micra remains one of Nissan’s most recognizable and popular cars around the world but it’s been given a massive make-over both inside and out and it gets NissanConnect and a host of personalisation options. Prices range from £9,950 to £14,050.
The new system also incorporates advanced features such as Google Send-To-Car technology, which allows an owner to plan a journey on their PC or tablet at home or in the office and then send the instructions to the car ahead of the journey.
Micra benefits from a raft of innovations and design touches designed specifically to make life easier and more enjoyable. Nissan’s latest Connect navigation and communication centre joins the range, while a new and expanded set of personalization options gives buyers the opportunity to create their perfect Micra. Nissan's latest three-cylinder 1.2-litre direct injection supercharged (DIG-S) petrol unit joins the latest Micra and the normally aspirated 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol unit is also available.
The DIG-S unit develops 98PS and diesel-like economy with emissions from just 95g/km. The DIG-S engine also features automatic stop/start when the car is stationary improving fuel economy by around 4%.
All versions of new Micra DIG-S wear Nissan's PURE DRIVE badge, signifying cars that produce emissions of 120g/km or lower - the threshold is being reduced by 10g/km from 130g/km during the course of 2013.
The entry-level 1.2 petrol unit develops 80PS for lively performance and emissions from 115 g/km. New Micra is front-wheel drive with a slick five-speed manual gearbox as standard or optionally the latest generation CVT.
UK sales. Nissan product manager Dylan Kenneway said they were anticipating selling over 15,000 Micra models and 22,000 Notes in a full year, with the former increasing its retail sales from the previous 50% to approximately 65% as private buyers take advantage of its improved equipment and finance deals.
He said that the Note was being introduced with a strong promotion on personal contract finance plans based on a 30% down-payment deposit and £149 a month and a 6.9% interest rate for hire purchase.
Micra comes with a discounted £1,200 off the price if you take out Nissan finance.
Nissan expect half the Micra and Note sales will be the 1.2 normally aspirated petrol in Acenta and Acenta Premium trim levels but 30% could be the supercharged 1.2 version with the diesel making up the remainder. Top line Tekna trim is projected to account for just 15% of registrations and the entry level Visia will amount to just 5%.
Concentrating for this early test drive on the better selling Note supermini which could also be described as a compact MPV, my Acenta version with its 1.5-litre dCi diesel engine achieved a remarkable 67.7mpg on a brief test.
The easy clutch contrasted with the direct but notchy long travel gear lever and slightly dead feeling steering but the quality feel to the secondary controls and the high visibility large instruments were welcome.
Ride was reasonable and only really comfortable on motorways while the handling was lifeless even if the grip was safe. I felt I was riding on it rather than in it though, as I did with the Micra.
The extra urge from the supercharged 1.2-litre DIG-S petrol unit was apparent and welcome on country roads as much as busy motorways and it was a considerably livelier car with a very good turning circle in town. I also achieved about 43.2mpg.
Surprisingly, the steering and gearchange felt not as refined as the powertrain.
For a B-sector car it was pleasantly roomy with a good sized shopping boot and very good rear seats access for loading child seats or their occupants.
Both Micra and Note are considerably improved over predecessors, except they suffered from a surprising amount of road noise and there seemed little insulation to speak of to protect the under-body from flying stones.
Nissan has obviously put a lot of technology into the latest Micra and Note but have omitted some noticeable refinement which I felt should have been included.
MILESTONES. Nissan Note Acenta 1.5 dCi.5-Door ‘Supermini/MPV’. Price: £15,250.
Engine/transmission: 1.5-litre, 4-cylinder, direct injection turbodiesel, 90PS (89bhp), 200Nm (147lb ft) of torque from 1,750rpm, 5-speed manual. Performance: 111mph, 0-62mph 11.9 seconds, 78.5mpg (67.7mpg on test), CO2 92g/km, VED road tax £0, BIK company car tax 14%. Insurance group: tbc. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,100mm, W 1,695mm, H 1,530mm, boot/load space: 325, rear seats in use to 411-litres with the rear seats folded but up to 2,012-litres if loaded to the roof. Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles. For: Brings class leading safety and visibility premium features to this segment, generous passenger and load carrying space, mid range models well priced, smart exterior styling, low running costs and taxes. Against: Road noise intrusion, lifeless handling, dead feeling steering, notchy long travel gear lever. Robin Roberts Miles Better News Agency