Although its dimensions looked more typical of the segment at launch, the Nissan Note has become a particularly compact entrant in its class as the years have passed. That lends it a likable sense of efficiency and authenticity as a genuinely small but still very useful family car – even amongst rivals as compact and practical as the Note’s. But, like every other car of its ilk, the Note’s appearance is compromised by proportions as impossible to avoid as they are to disguise.

In due reasonable spirit, of cars that offer this much usable cabin space, in an overall package this small, it’s plain unreasonable to expect much in the way of instant visual desirability. High sides, square corners, a short wheelbase, short overhangs and tall windows are all challenges for a vehicle stylist, particularly when it comes to injecting character and dynamism into the visual mix.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
Looks not as noteworthy as a contemporary Micra’s, but Note is smart and pleasant

Given those hurdles, you’d say those behind the Note’s design had done a competent, if uninspiring job. The car’s rising shoulderline, curved roof and taut body surfaces make it appear less boxy than some junior people-movers, while the detailing gives your eye a few highlights to alight on. The car’s elongated headlights add much-needed visual interest at the front, while at the rear wraparound taillights, which extend forwards along the Note’s roofline as well as downwards along its rump, make for a memorable flourish.

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All but the baseline version of the Note come with alloy wheels as standard, and colours include metallic blues, greys and silvers – all smart enough, if a little lacking in exuberance. 

And when all is said and done, that lack of charm is telling – because while the Note certainly isn’t a bad-looking car, neither is it a charismatic one. A Citroen C3 Picasso makes it look very pedestrian indeed – and while those with mature tastes aren’t likely to mind that much, the young families alleged to make up the heartland demographic for cars like this can’t fail to notice.

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