The Nissan Note has a lower ground clearance than a Porsche 718 Cayman, why?
Hans · Nov 27, 2020 11:20 AM
The Nissan Note is a tall-ish hatchback, B-segment rival to the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris.
In Europe, the Note is classified as a mini-MPV, together with the Jazz, despite it being a 5-seater, but that’s just how European consumers sees any tall-ish hatchback. This applies to the Mercedes-Benz B-Class and Volkswagen Golf Sportvan too.
Naturally, you would expect the Note to have a higher ground clearance than a sports car, but you’ll be surprised to know that the opposite is true, as noted by this Japanese publication.
The Nissan Note has a 120 mm ground clearance – defined as the vertical distance between the ground and the car’s body. The Porsche 718 Cayman (Japanese market model, standard suspension), rides 125 mm above the ground.
Are there any other sports cars that ride higher than the Nissan Note? The Subaru BRZ and Toyota 86 twins, outgoing generation model (dimensions for 2021 second generation model is yet to be announced), at 130 mm.
Then there is the ground touring Lexus LC 500, at 135 mm.
In fact, the Nissan Note’s ground clearance is just 2 mm higher than a Toyota Supra’s 118 mm.
Why is the Nissan Note so low? There’s no clear answer but we know that low ground clearance is a selling point for consumers in Japan, because there is a large number of elderly population and ease of entrance and exit of a car is important, which also explains why sliding doors is a must-have feature for any MPV.
The Nissan Note is a simple, budget-friendly family hatchback so it doesn’t have fancy power-operated sliding doors, which would have added too much weight on the little Note, so it compensates by having wide opening doors and low ground clearance.
Like many Japanese market cars, swiveling chairs for special needs users are also available as an option.
Of course, we don’t need to point out the obvious that this being a Japanese market model, it won’t encounter the sort of road conditions outside of Japan.
Is the Nissan Note the lowest riding car in Japan? Not at all. The Nissan GT-R rides 110 mm above ground, as is the Honda NSX. The Lexus LF-A is 115 mm.
But do you know what other car has the same 120 mm ground clearance as the Nissan Note? The Suzuki Swift Sport.
To recap, the latest generation 2021 Nissan Note is currently only on sale in Japan, available exclusively only as a hybrid.
The E-Power drivetrain adopts a series hybrid setup, meaning that the 1.2-litre naturally aspirated HR12DE doesn’t drive the engine, but acts only as a generator. The engine alone makes 82 PS and 103 Nm but when combined with the EM47 electric drive, it makes a combined output of 116 PS and 280 Nm.
The drivetrain is shared with the Nissan Kicks, but in the Note, it makes 13 PS less power but 20 Nm more torque.
There’s also an all-wheel drive variant, which adds an electric motor driving the rear axle.
The outgoing generation Nissan Note is still on sale in Thailand but like all Nissan businesses in this region, it’s underperforming, selling less than even the Mazda 2.
The earlier generation Nissan Note was presented at the 2013 KL International Motor Show, and for a period of time, it was being considered for Malaysia, but the project never materialized, and it was the right decision.
The earlier generation Nissan Note didn’t offer anything that isn’t already done better by the Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris. This new 2021 Nissan Note however, is pretty competitive product, at least in Japan.
Still, Nissan Motor Thailand, which also supplies knocked down (KD) kits for Malaysia to assemble, have already mentioned that moving forward, it will only focus on SUVs and pick-up trucks.
The Nissan Kicks - due to be launched in Malaysia next year - will carry the Nissan flag for the B-segment class of cars, meaning that the Nissan Note is unlikely to make it to Malaysia.