A Nissan Note is a Hot Hatch, When Driven Right

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Nissan note is not the car you think about when you are fantasizing about quitting your crappy job and driving past the office parking lot when you have made it big to “show them”.

However, it is a hatchback that packs all the punching power you think you need and then some. The previous versions of Notes and March have been loaded with 1500 cc, so someone upgrading might be skeptical on how they can get the same power with a 1200 CC “downgrade”. Well for reasons known to the people who used to work for Carlos Ghosn before he waved goodbye to Japan from the inside of a violin case, the 1200 cc is much better than the old 1500.

It gives you better power and better performance and of course the holy grail for those who drive vehicles on the south of 1600 cc, it is efficient and economical making you wish the price of fuel is not plummeting so you could still keep your bragging rights.

The Interior

Now, as far as interior space and boot are concerned it is not as small as it looks from inside the matatu on Mombasa Road. It has a boot space of around 350 liters. Yaani if you put water in the boot, it would carry 350 liters. To give perspective, a fielder which looks much bigger by comparison has a boot volume of 407 liters. So, there is little you would leave behind if you were driving the smaller car.


As you press the accelerator, the HR12DE engine resting quietly below the bonnet does what it does best and although the engine noise can be loud if you push the car, don’t worry, it only means the car is having a good time.

The best way to try a car is driving it and I put myself behind the wheel and rolled between Nanyuki and Archers post. Coz Nairobi is only accessible to people who know how to grease palms and people with Nissan Notes save their oil for the service only. I let it warm up between Nanyuki and Timau about 7 kilometres and then I decide it was ready for me. I put down the foot.

At low revs below 35000 RPM, the car will buckle forward happily, and you can feel the direct impact of you lead foot on the engine. You kind of wait for it to upshift and become gentler but then you would wait along time. If you keep peddle and metal close, the car comes alive and it will purr uphill until it hits 120-140, but that also depends on the type of tarmac and number of passengers. (People who went to try a Note at 140 off-road never came back to write the report).

The car might start feeling a bit woozy and if you dare lower one of the windows, it just might take off. However, for the adrenaline junkies, driving a small car at speeds designed for blue Subaru’s on a suicide mission is half the fun. The car can do 160.  I don’t know about 180 and you do not need to know either.

However, it has a decent safely rating although if you come head to head with a miraa pickup while descending Subuiga Hill/blackspot/stairway to heaven we will probably be washing your pink matter from the back seat as you explain Tik Tok to Elijah and Judas on the other side of the kicked bucket.

Grim I know but don’t drive like an idiot.  At the Meru Isiolo junction, it is about 4 kilometres of downhill, and the road is as smooth as a 12-year-old single malt. I started the downhill at 100 and kept the same pressure on the gas. Or not, I think I seduced myself into disregarding the advice above and it was beautiful. The Revs did not go exceedingly high cos I was going downhill but the speedo was in the later afternoon side of the clock. If you don’t get that you cannot be helped.

However, when I go to Archers, I was doing Prado mileage. But then again, if a Prado had driven as fast as I had, it would be reduced to driving from petrol station to petrol station. The car did not get tired. Anyone who tells you small cars get tired should stick to talking about mushrooms or something. I spent 2 hours in Archers and decided to keep the car below a 100 on the way back. It purred the same way, but the mileage was incredible.

On the trip to- I was driving at mostly between 100 to 140 and it did 13 Kms per hour. When you think about it, it is pretty decent. On the trip back, I stuck between 100 and 90 and I managed a cool 18 Kms per litre. Small cars, big numbers. The car does not look like much, but it is serious value for money. Also, spare parts are all over the place. If that is what makes you not but the car you are not really ready. Happy driving. Did I tell you about the speed camera? Let’s say if I added the …ahem…  “fine” to the fuel budget I would have averaged 6 kms per litre.

3.8 4 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x