Nissan Note (2006-2013)

With downsizing very much in vogue, it’s cars like the Nissan Note that make the trend so understandable. Combining a cleverly designed interior with discreet good looks, the Note is one of those cars that’s inconspicuous but very talented, leaving you wondering why you don’t see a lot more of them. Compact yet spacious, the Nissan Note is good to drive and surprisingly versatile, plus it looks smart too. Now the earliest cars are getting old, the Note still scores strongly for reliability. And with plenty of cherished low-mileage cars available, this ultra-practical Nissan is as appealing as ever.

Key dates

3/06: The Note arrives as a five-door hatchback only, with 1.4 or 1.6 petrol engines or a 1.5-litre turbodiesel. 

1/09: A facelift brings a fresh nose and a higher quality interior with more standard equipment.

8/10: Further revisions bring more tweaks to the exterior detailing plus extra standard equipment – significantly more, for the high-spec N-Tec. 

2/12: A final facelift means extra standard kit for the Acenta and N-Tec, plus a new range-topping N-Tec+ trim.


  • Squeaks and creaks from the front suspension suggest fresh anti-roll bar bushes are needed.
  • Cars with 16-inch wheels and 55-profile tyres have a ride that you might find too firm.
  • The engine auxiliary drive belts can wear quickly.
  • The windscreen suffers from chips and cracks in the lower corners, which then spread throughout the screen.
  • Steering racks aren’t very durable, so feel for play.
  • Waterlogged footwells suggests the air-con system is leaking; repairs can be involved.
  • The electrics can be unreliable, so ensure they all work. Pay particular attention to the powered windows and stereo; check the CD player too.

We like

  • Versatility
  • Practicality
  • Smart looks
  • Keen prices
  • Reliability
  • Driving experience
  • Low running costs

We don’t like

  • Bland cabin design
  • Basic entry-level cars
  • Cramped for five


Richard Dredge


Nissan Qashqai (2007-2013)

When Nissan gave up on mainstream family cars such as the Almera and Primera, many thought the company had lost the plot. But Nissan knew what it was doing; its new British-built crossover offered an elevated driving position, a comfortable ride and decent interior packaging that its predecessors couldn't match, while a clever part-time four-wheel drive system kept fuel consumption to a minimum. The Qashqai quickly became Nissan's most popular model; now there's an all-new second edition, the original is even more of a bargain.

Key Dates

3/07: The Qashqai debuts, with 1.6 or 2.0 petrol engines or a 1.5 dCi diesel.

4/07: A 2.0 dCi is added to the range. 

10/08: There's now a seven-seat Qashqai+2 option, with the same engine and trim options.

3/10: A facelifted Qashqai appears, with a 129g/km 1.5 dCi Puredrive option, a redesigned nose, revised dash and suspension plus extra soundproofing.

9/11: The 2.0 dCi is superseded by the cleaner, smoother, more refined 1.6 dCi.

Nissan Qashqai (2007-2013) Checklist

  • The front brake discs can wear within 20,000 miles.
  • The seal for the front windscreen can leak; look for rainwater in the footwells. 
  • The wheel size makes a big difference to the ride; anything with 18" rims will be very crashy.
  • The fixings for the parcel shelf are fragile; some owners simply remove the shelf altogether.
  • The key fob for the remote locking can fail, because of poor contacts in the key or mobile phone interference.
  • Rattles from the rear suspension are common, along with premature failure of the rear shock absorbers.

We Like

  • Comfort
  • Handling
  • Equipment levels
  • Value
  • Choice

We Don't Like

  • Limited rear headroom
  • Dated dash
  • Poor rear visibility



Nissan Micra (2002-2010)

Ever since the first examples appeared in 1983, the Nissan Micra has proved itself one of the best superminis around. With its sliding rear seat for extra cabin versatility, stand-out exterior design plus a huge choice of engines and trim levels, there are plenty of reasons to buy a Micra. Another is that typical Nissan reliability - but you can't always take this for granted.

Key Dates

11/02: The third-generation Micra debuts in three and five-door hatch forms, with 1.0, 1.2 or 1.4-litre petrol engines, plus a 1.5dCi turbodiesel.

3/05: A 1.6-litre petrol engine appears, in the 108bhp Micra SR.

6/05: A facelift brings a revised nose and tail, overhauled interior and extra standard equipment.

9/05: The Micra C+C (coupé-cabriolet) arrives with a 1.6 petrol engine.

9/06: The Micra C+C gets a 1.4-litre engine.

9/07: Another facelift brings further interior and exterior changes plus more standard kit and revised trim levels.

Nissan Micra (2002-2010) Checklist

  • The tailgate lock can fill up with water leading to the mechanism failing.
  • Clonks from the front suspension can be because the system was misaligned when the car was built. This can be fixed though.
  • The electrics aren't always reliable and batteries can go flat for no apparent reason, but a software update can cure this.
  • Poor starting or running is often due to a faulty crankshaft sensor because of deposits on the flywheel.
  • Timing chains fail on petrol engines, because of poor quality oil being used.
  • ABS modules fail; dealers charge less to fix cars with a Nissan FSH.

We Like

  • Reliability
  • Build quality
  • Good value

We Don't Like

  • Cramped rear seat
  • Unrefined
  • Dull handling


Nissan Murano (2005-2008)

Over 90 per cent of 4x4 buyers choose diesel power, so when Nissan introduced the petrol-only Murano there were many who questioned the Japanese car maker's judgement. Sure enough sales proved hard to come by, but the Murano's used values are on the low side, so if you don't mind the 20mpg thirst and costly road tax (CO2 emissions are 295g/km), this could be just the car for you. If you're partial to a bit of towing, the Murano is especially worth a look - but be warned, the fuel consumption will plummet even further...

Key Dates

10/04: The Murano is introduced with a 3498cc V6 petrol engine only, mated to a six-speed CVT gearbox.

6/06: The Murano gets a Euro IV-compliant engine.

Nissan Murano (2005-2008) Checklist

  • Check that the gear ratios engage smoothly, as CVT belt failures have occurred in some cars, although this generally affects Muranos sold overseas.
  • Check that the tyres aren't worn; they're 225/65 R18 items and only Dunlop and Toyo make this size, so finding stocks can be tricky.
  • The Murano makes an excellent tow car; if it's already been used as one, make sure the transmission and brakes haven't been overloaded.
  • Few Murano owners will have taken their car off-roading, but check the underside for scrapes, just in case.

We Like

  • Interior space
  • Handling
  • Build quality
  • Equipment

We Don't Like

  • No diesel option
  • High running costs
  • Rear visibility
  • Road noise


Nissan 350Z (1998-2007)

The original Z cars were all-time greats; while the brand went off the boil for a while, this masterpiece made sure it didn't wither on the vine. With a free-revving V6 up front there's power aplenty while handling is an enthusiast's dream - oversteer is available on demand. Despite superb performance credentials, the 350Z is easy to drive and reliable too - and although there's no prestige badge in evidence, you're not paying premium prices to buy or run one either.

Key Dates

3/03: The 350Z coupé goes on sale with a 276bhp 3.5-litre V6 only.

10/04: A roadster joins the range, powered by the same V6 as the coupé.

1/05: The Gran Turismo 4 limited edition arrives, with a 296bhp V6 and special wheels.

3/06: A facelift for both the coupé and roadster brings new headlamps and tail lights, extra power (now 296bhp) and a revised dash.

Nissan 350Z (2003-2008) Checklist

  • Clutches can fail in under 10,000 miles, especially on hard-driven cars, so check for slipping.
  • Don't be put off by a noisy gearbox in neutral - they all do that.
  • Gunmetal cars can suffer from the paint blistering or discolouring on the various plastic components.
  • The paint is also generally not especially durable, as it stone chips easily; look for damage on the nose particularly.
  • The final cars offer more power, but the engines don't feel as free-revving or powerful as earlier units.
  • Exhausts can fracture near the rear silencer, leading to blowing.

We Like

  • Performance
  • Styling
  • Dynamics
  • Reliability

We Don't Like

  • Thirsty engine
  • Cheap plastics
  • Nissan badge
  • No 2+2 option