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Economy & Tech

Car of the Year Award Goes to the Note Aura, a Top-Quality Compact Car

With practical size and plenty of luxury elements to make driving a dream, Nissan may just have taken a step toward its own economic revival.

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A premium compact, domestic car with a small body and luxurious interior has made its presence known. 

Most high-quality cars are large, and given the design of Japan’s roads, consumers hesitate to buy them. Compact cars are usually inexpensive, yet practical. 

However, the Note Aura has turned that image on its head. It was awarded Japan’s Car of the Year award for its overall quality, rivaling that of larger luxury cars. 

This is the “car of the year,” which has revived Nissan’s image.

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Compact cars are popular and hold the status of the highest number of automobiles sold. They are also the mainstay lines produced by their manufacturers. The battlefield is crowded, with rivals such as the Honda Fit, the Suzuki Swift, and the Mazda2. Toyota, the company at the top of the automobile industry, has two models ー the Yaris and Aqua ー in its compact car lineup.

Nissan aimed for victory with the Note. It has e-POWER technology, with an all-electric powertrain that delivers electricity to its electric motor. 

The Note Aura is based on the Note, but it has been widened by 40 mm (approx. 1.6 in). The headlamps have a sharper design, and the car’s body has extra impact. The motor’s horsepower has been raised from 116 HP to 136 HP, and the tires are 2 inches larger at 17 inches, which allows for a more comfortable driving experience.

The most striking difference is certainly its interior. The dashboard, which combines tweed-like fabric with synthetic leather and beautiful wood-grained panels, is elaborate and pleasing to the eyes. Unfortunately, the seats must be manually adjusted. It would have been better to offer power seats.

Although it is an option, the BOSE Personal Plus Sound System has been installed for the first time. Speakers have been built into the front seats’ headrests, creating a sense of realism that makes passengers feel as if they are in a concert hall.

Four models, including the Note and Note Aura, received the 2021-2022 Japan Car of the Year award for their solid car manufacturing and the technology Nissan is known for. There was a substantial gap between first and second place, with 14 of the 60 judges awarding the cars full points. This is Nissan’s first award in 10 years, since the 2011 Leaf.

This time, I test drove the second generation FF “G.” It has undergone a full model change, providing a different driving experience from the first generation. One-pedal drive, which allows the driver to control and even stop the car with just the accelerator, was used when e-POWER technology was first released. In the latest model, acceleration and deceleration using the accelerator has become smoother, allowing for a more comfortable driving experience.

The cruise control’s ProPilot is also closer to autonomous driving. On sharp curves, it reads the map information of the navigation system and automatically decelerates. The braking technology was so smooth that at first, I didn’t know why the car was slowing down. I was impressed by how far the technology has come. The suspension is especially good. It can feel a little bumpy driving in the city, but it shows outstanding stability on roads with continuous curves, such as mountain roads.

The sound of the motor running is somewhat noticeable, but overall I had no objections to it being chosen as the car of this year. I would recommend it without hesitation to those looking for a high-quality domestic compact car.

ABOUT NSSAN’S NOTE AURA
Seats: 5 passengers
Total Length: 4045 mm / approx. 13’3”
Total Width: 1735 mm / approx. 5’8”
Total Height: 1525 mm / approx. 5’
Weight: 1260 kg / approx. 2778 lbs
Engine (power generation): 1198 cc in-line 3-cylinder
Maximum Output: 82 HP
Motor (For driving): AC synchronous motor
Maximum Output: 136 HP
Fuel Economy (in WLTC Mode): 27.2 km / approx. 17 mi
Model Price: ¥2,610,300 JPY / approx. $22,830 USD
For Additional Information: In English, check the website, here

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(Read the Sankei Shimbun report in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Shigetaka Doi

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