The all-new Nissan Note e-POWER combines technology and practicality into a neat little hatchback package.
Compact cars are a very popular choice among Singaporean drivers and it's not hard to see why. With small proportions and loads of functionality, these cars are perfect for zipping around our dense urban environment fuss-free. This market segment is therefore very competitive, and Nissan is vying for a slice of that consumer pie.
Enter the Nissan Note e-POWER. It showcases the best in Nissan's latest design concept. Dubbed "Timeless Japanese Futurism", the company reckons this philosophy allows the Note to stand out from other hatchbacks with a simple yet powerfully modern design.
Compact and Handsome
Gone are the days of the dainty looking Nissan Note. The new model has a bulkier body shape and sleek proportions, giving the car a more modern aesthetic than the previous generation.
Even though it is larger than its predecessor, it still maintains the compact hatchback form factor. In fact, it boasts a clean and simple design similar to its fully electric sibling, the Nissan Leaf.
The angular front LED headlamps extend all the way to the side fenders, giving the car a more aggressive front end. However, what's not aggressive-looking are the fog lights located in the front bumper. These are the cutest, smallest fog lights we have ever seen on any car, but they do a decent job of illuminating the road if visibility becomes poor.
The most noticeable feature around the back is the slim, horizontally continuous rear combination lamps. A neat rear diffuser design and black-accented spoiler round off the design nicely.
Overall, the Note is quite a handsome car, and the new design complements Nissan’s vision for futuristic designs.
The Note has a spacious boot, with 340-litres available to tackle your everyday needs. The wide opening makes it easier to load and unload items, a definite plus point in the compact car segment.
All four doors can also open to nearly 90 degrees, which enhances accessibility for all occupants.
This particular unit is the Premium variant, which comes with 16-inch alloy wheels. On the regular Lite trim, 16-inch steel rims with hub caps are provided.
A total of 11 body colours are available, with 9 one-tone and 2 two-tone. This test unit features the "Brilliant White Pearl" colour option.
Lavish Interior with a Premium Feel
Unlike the previous Note generations, Nissan wanted to incorporate a more professional and premium design language, and it really shows in this interior. The first thing we immediately noticed when climbing into the car is the Nappa leather seats.
In fact, the leather extends to the door sills and steering wheel, and is selectively placed at the driver's various touchpoints in the vehicle.
More commonly found in premium vehicles such as BMWs, the leather is simply fantastic, and adds an extra layer of class and comfort. The front seats are coined "Zero Gravity Seats" by Nissan, and in testing, they are really comfortable on long journeys.
As the centre console has a unique design due to the lack of a traditional transmission, Nissan has created a large storage area below the gear selector. This is a very useful addition, and the size means you can even fit full-size tissue boxes.
The premium Nappa leather extends to the rear seats too. The rear legroom is decent, although the seats are a little short and might not be as comfortable for taller individuals.
The rear seats feature three-abreast seating. However, the centre seat might not be ideal for adults. Due to the high “transmission tunnel” (this car does not have a traditional transmission), the legroom does get noticeably compromised and can become uncomfortable over long journeys.
Apart from 2 cup holders in the door sills, there are no other features for the rear passengers. No charging ports, no centre armrest and no climate controls or aircon vents. The only thing that exists is a tiny pocket in the centre console, which is just big enough to fit someone's wallet or spare coins.
The Note features a D-shaped steering wheel with a flat bottom and multifunction controls. These buttons can be used to toggle information such as settings, audio or hands-free phone calls.
Sadly, cruise control is blatantly absent from this vehicle, even on the Premium variant.
Although the centre console has a unique design due to the lack of a traditional transmission, the cup holders have been moved to the sides, right in front of the side aircon vents.
While the placement makes sense for chilling your drinks when driving, the cup holders are too shallow and do not hold drinks well.
The most unique interior feature of the Note would be its gear selector lever. In line with Nissan's design ideology, the lever looks and feels very futuristic. Shifting through gears is a smooth experience, and it feels like a computer mouse in your hand.
Alongside, a switch allows you to swap driving modes, as well as toggle features such as auto hold and EV mode. The start-stop button is positioned at the top of this centre cluster.
The Note has definitely taken a huge step forward in terms of technology. The new 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Even though these features are not wireless, a smartphone's charging cable works just fine for a stable connection.
If you're someone who insists on using Bluetooth for functions such as listening to music, there is also the Note's native Bluetooth interface, which can stream your playlists just as well.
Two USB Type-A ports are available in the car. One port provides fast charging for smartphones, while the other only offers regular charging, but with additional connectivity for the infotainment system.
Driving information is now displayed on a 7-inch Digital TFT Instrument cluster. Not noticeable at first, but on closer inspection, it is not a fully digital display. This screen can be toggled to show information such as the ECO pedal guide, energy flow diagram and the lane keep assistant.
Being an e-POWER vehicle, the Note does not come with a traditional RPM gauge. Instead, it has a power percentage meter denoting how much power you are using while driving. The left side of the meter marked in blue shows how much regenerative braking is being applied to the car.
The Note features Nissan's Intelligent Mobility system, which is a cluster of advanced safety technologies offering 360 degrees of coverage.
At the front, the Forward Collision Warning informs the driver if the vehicle detects danger or a pedestrian ahead. Even if the driver does not react in time, the Intelligent Emergency Braking will apply the brakes automatically.
Additionally, High Beam assist switches the headlamps setting to low beam when it detects a vehicle or pedestrian ahead, supporting safer driving.
The rearview mirror can also be toggled to show a live feed via the car's rear camera. This is especially useful when ferrying rear passengers around, as they tend to obstruct the driver's viewpoint.
While driving, the Note will also alert the driver when it senses the car is straying out of its lane with Lane Intervention and Lane Departure Warning.
Arguably the biggest selling point of the new Nissan Note e-POWER is its unique hybrid drivetrain. If you're unfamiliar with Nissan's e-POWER technology, in summary, it's essentially an electric vehicle (EV) with an additional generator onboard.
In the Note, the 1.2-litre petrol engine is solely used to produce electricity, which is then stored in the car's battery. While in operation, the battery is drained when powering the electric motor, which drives the car's wheels. Unlike other hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius, the Note cannot be powered directly using the engine.
This might sound like Nissan is trying to over-complicate things, but as a result, the Note e-POWER achieves figures that far exceed what you would traditionally expect from a compact engine. The car only has a modest 114bhp, but more importantly, it also produces an amazing 280Nm of torque.
This car might give off a "learner-plate" under-powered look, but don't be fooled by its appearance. Thanks to its e-POWER drivetrain, the Nissan Note has near-instant acceleration, similar to EV vehicles.
We absolutely love how this car accelerates. Regardless of which mode the Note is set to, there is always healthy amounts of acceleration, thanks to the copious amounts of torque. This gives you more than enough power to overtake others or claim your spot on the road.
Being compact, the car manoeuvres around traffic with ease. Steering is also light, and the Note is stable around tight bends.
The best analogy we can give the car then is that it behaves like a puppy; small build, but extremely energetic and it pounces on every opportunity it gets.
The Note has three driving modes: ECO, Sport and Normal. Nissan's signature One Pedal drive makes a return in this car too, being active in the ECO and Sport modes. In testing, it is a fantastic feature to have while driving.
The harsh regenerative braking does take some practice to get used to, but after warming up to it, we rarely stepped on the brake at all, and it really changes the way we commute with the Note.
Instead of traditional braking, we just lift our foot off the accelerator pedal and allow the car to decelerate on its own. In most situations, the car is able to slow down enough under its own power, and we are able to charge the battery at the same time. A win-win!
The Note does have a full EV mode, whereby it turns off the petrol engine completely. It is only available in ECO mode, but the battery must have sufficient charge beforehand, and due to its small capacity the range is a measly 3-5km, so we wouldn't bother with it.
In Sport mode, the only difference is that the Note offers more powerful acceleration. There is a noticeable increase in performance, and the car delivers power more efficiently at any speed. In Normal mode, the One Pedal drive is disabled, and the Note behaves just like a regular car without the harsh regenerative braking.
However, the drivetrain isn't totally fault-free. Under harsh acceleration, the engine sounds rough and quite noisy when it's running, as it struggles to provide the battery with enough power.
When testing the Note, we kept it in ECO mode most of the time. The power you get is more than sufficient, and you never really feel the need to change modes just to overtake someone else on the road. Plus, in ECO, you do save more petrol while driving.
Speaking of petrol, the Note is also very fuel-efficient. Even with lots of enthusiastic driving, we managed to get 15.7km/L. Nissan claims you can get up to 21.7km/L, but realistically you can expect to achieve around 18-19km/L with careful and gentle driving, which are still pretty good figures.
Overall, the Note e-POWER is a very easy car to pick up and drive, especially if you are a new driver. We especially love the fact that it can go from an efficient fuel saver to a fun hatchback near-instantly; just mash the throttle and it changes form.
There are two trim levels available for the Nissan Note, with the Lite model coming in at S$102,800 and the Premium model just a little more expensive at S$105,800.
What does the extra $3,000 get you? For the premium trim, the Note receives a more comprehensive 10-year Li-ion battery warranty, a definite plus point over the standard 3-year warranty found on the Lite trim. Aside from that, the only differences between the two are the 16-inch alloy wheels and the Nappa leather. In the Lite variant, you will only get 16-inch steel rims with hubcaps, and standard fabric material for the interior upholstery. All of the other features come as standard for both models.
Is it worth spending that extra money for the Premium variant? To us, we will highly recommend splashing that extra cash to get the Premium. The Nappa leather you get in the Note is really a class above the rest, and that alone can justify the $3,000 difference.
Nissan has really improved in recent years, and it exemplifies that in the new Note e-POWER. It will not be the fastest car on the road, but it will definitely put a smile on your face.
Engine: 1,198cc, 3-Cylinder 12-Valve DOHC, Petrol-Electric
Power: 114bhp @ 2900-10341rpm
Torque: 280Nm @ 0-2900rpm
Fuel Consumption: 21.7km/L
Drivetrain: Single Speed Reduction Gear, Front-wheel drive
Brakes (Front/Rear): Disc/Drum
VES Banding: A2
Dimensions (LxWxH): 4,055mm x 1,695mm x 1,520mm
Fuel Tank Capacity: 36 litres
Boot Capacity: 340 litres
Automatic LED Headlamps
Apple CarPlay / Android Auto
Front Fog Lamps
Front & Rear Parking Sensors
Keyless Entry & Push Start Ignition
Nappa Leather Upholstery
Zero Gravity Seats
16-inch Alloy Wheels
9-inch Touchscreen Infotainment System
7-inch TFT Instrument Display
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