The Nissan Note's engine range starts with a naturally aspirated 79bhp 1.2-litre three-pot petrol. Next up is the 97bhp 1.2-litre DIG-S supercharged petrol version; its supercharger is disengaged via a clutch when not needed.

Nissan's supercharged engine outputs an impressively low 99g/km CO2, but that worsens to 119g/km if the standard five-speed manual is replaced by the optional CVT automatic gearbox

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Performance is on a par with its rivals and perfect for general driving

The economy champion is the Renault-sourced 1.5-litre dCi turbodiesel, offering 89bhp, 95g/km and, again, a five-speed gearbox.

If you’re after strong straight-line performance, a 79bhp 1.2-litre triple is unlikely to blip particularly brightly on your radar. So although a headline figure of 12.6sec for the 0-60mph sprint doesn’t look sprightly, bear in mind that this is also a claimed 60.1mpg car that emits just 109g/km of CO2 on the combined cycle.

From that perspective, the Note is a pretty competitive performer. The last time we figured a 1.2-litre supermini, it was a Peugeot 208 that, although 15kg lighter and 2bhp more powerful than the Note, wanted 14.2sec across the same benchmark.

The Peugeot did counter, though, with stronger in-gear performance at the lower end of the rev scale; across 30-50mph in third (7.6sec) and 50-70mph in fourth (12.2sec), the 208 is more responsive than the Note (8.4sec and 12.8sec respectively). The Note’s three-cylinder engine is one that likes a few revs; hang on to it long enough and it’ll redline at 6800rpm, although we can’t imagine many buyers taking it there. Certainly, you wouldn’t do it by accident.

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The supercharged engine doesn't quite live up to its billing. It feels a bit overwhelmed by the Note's bulk, although the deep three-cylinder sound is appealing. You'll probably enjoy the impressively torquey diesel more; it offers up a reasonably modest 89bhp and 147lb ft, meaning acceptable performance.

What power it does produce is delivered smoothly, but it is a grumbly unit under acceleration. Better is its high-speed refinement, which is broken only by a modicum of road noise. Our test route saw it return an excellent 62mpg, which was achieved over a mix of roads.

Although the Nissan Note is quite happy to be threaded with a little enthusiasm around town, the gearbox takes a bit of stirring on the open road. Thinking about pulling out on the motorway with some traffic closing behind from a distance? You’ll probably be wanting fourth gear. The same goes for increasing speed on an incline.

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