Nissan Note mini MPV

£9,995 - £18,200

The Nissan Note is a small hatchback that majors on making the most of its compact dimensions. As with the Honda Jazz and Kia Venga, there's way more space inside than you might expect looking at it from the outside. 

This is achieved thanks to a slightly higher roof than a normal supermini, as well as some clever details inside. The rear seats slide forward and back, depending on whether you want to prioritise legroom or boot space. Most Notes also get a cleaver false floor in the boot, which can be raised to sit flush with the boot lip, making it easy to slide heavy items in and out. 

If space isn’t your first priority, then you might want to consider rivals such as the Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo or Skoda Fabia. They sacrifice some of the Note's impressive interior space for a more involving driving experience.

You can have any one of three engines in your Note – two petrols and just the one diesel. The two 1.2-litre petrols produce 79 and 97bhp respectively, while the 1.5-litre diesel manages 89bhp. Neither the more powerful petrol nor the diesel emit more than 100g/km of CO2, so there's no road tax to pay, while fuel economy is 65.7 and 78.5mpg respectively. 

The less powerful petrol should really be avoided, as it makes the Note slower, less efficient and more expensive to tax than the other two. Also avoid the more powerful petrol engine with the CVT automatic gearbox if you can. It's slow, noisy and nowhere near as efficient as the manual. 

Apart from that entry-level petrol, the engines are nippy enough to keep up with most traffic. You won’t find the Note a bundle of laughs to drive, however. Its tall profile and softly sprung suspension leads to significant body lean in the corners, while the steering is light and vague. In the urban environs it was designed for, this makes it easy to manoeuvre and park, but robs you of driver involvement out of town.

Astonishingly (and confusingly) there are a grand total of eight Note trim levels to choose from, but even the entry-level model is well equipped. All models get Bluetooth phone connectivity, cruise control and a CD player. Acenta is our favourite trim level, as it adds things like alloy wheels, air-conditioning and leather interior trim. You also get a height-adjustable driver's seat and some chrome exterior detailing. 

For around £1,000 more, you can upgrade to Acenta Premium, which should have all the kit you’ll ever need. This includes sat nav, DAB digital radio, automatic headlights and wipers, and climate control. 

Nissan has a good reputation for reliability and the Note is based on some well-proven mechanical components, so there shouldn’t be any major issues. It scored four out of five stars from Euro NCAP for crash safety. This doesn’t sound too stellar, but the testing body's evaluations have become a lot more stringent in recent times and four stars is about par for the course in this class.